Buying Here: Sewickley


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If you walked into the house at 743 Maple Lane, Sewickley, you would probably say, "Great house, but it needs a new kitchen."

If Phyllis Leahey were still alive, she would probably tell you her kitchen was "just fine, thank you very much." You couldn't argue with her results.

"She made more than 400 dozen Christmas cookies every year -- yes, "400 dozen, not 40 dozen," said her son, Tim Leahey, "She would give cookies to everyone -- each of her seven children, each grandchild and each home on Maple Lane all got specially packed boxes."

The grand Victorian with five bedrooms and two baths (MLS No. 906349) is on the market for $299,000 with Realtors Peter and Alexis Theis of Howard Hanna (412-741-2200, ext. 285; www.howardhanna.com). There will be an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Mr. Leahey said the home originally belonged to his grandparents, who moved in around 1972. His parents, Thomas and Phyllis, took the home over in 1988. Mrs. Leahey passed on a little more than a year ago.

"She was so beloved, when we kids all came home to care for her, all of the neighbors took shifts and pitched in. That's the kind of neighborhood Maple Lane is," her son said.

Double-front entry doors swing wide to an inside door of solid oak that deposits visitors into a 12-by-12-foot entryway that features a window seat with built-in storage and a decorative fireplace (one of six in the home). A winding main staircase has a double landing and oak paneled side.

All of the wood trim in the home is painted a crisp white and is original. At the bend in the staircase is an arched stained-glass window in shades of blue and green.

To the left of the entry, a pair of pocket doors lead to the 16-by-14-foot living room. The well-lit space has large windows, a chandelier and another fireplace in pristine condition.

A pair of French doors at the far end of the room open to the 17-by-14-foot dining room. The decorative fireplace has a green marble surround, and the bay window to the left is topped by a trio of large windows.

The kitchen, which measures 13 by 12 feet, has no cabinetry save for a metal sink unit. Two built-in pantries store food, and the floor is ceramic tile. Doors lead to the backyard and basement. The wallpaper and white beadboard on one wall should be easy to remove.

Realtor Peter Theis said the house's floors are in surprisingly good condition.

"The floors were carpeted for more than 50 years on all three levels with 1960s orange shag carpeting. We suggested they pull it up." Mr. Theis said. "Beneath, they were all in pretty good shape, and they shine like they were protected under a blanket."

On the second level are three bedrooms that are either 12 by 12 feet or 12 by 14 feet; a fourth, the master bedroom, is 18 by 12 feet. All of the rooms have closets, and three of the four have decorative fireplaces.

The second-floor bathroom was redone sometime in the '60s and has green and black subway tile, even on the ceiling. A cast-iron tub was outfitted with a circular shower curtain rod surround, and a pedestal sink is close by. Another full bathroom on the first floor was more recently done. It has a shower/tub combo, a ceramic tile floor and a new toilet, all in white.

The third floor was outfitted once for a small apartment. The bedroom on the left is the largest of the home, measuring at 15 by 16 feet, with hardwood floors. To the right, another large room housed a kitchen whose remains are a single sink.

Mr. Theis points out the owners smartly installed zoned heating and central air conditioning. "Twin furnaces, twin air compressors and each floor has a thermostat so you can heat and cool as needed to save energy. The entire living space in the house is 2,900 square feet, so it just makes sense."

The basement has the laundry and a large workshop. In the backyard, a new shed was installed. Mr. Leahey said that he found every receipt for major repairs that were done. "My mother was very organized. She kept lists of everything."

A partial list of improvements from 1994 through today comes in at more than $58,000, including 23 new windows, soffit, fascia, gutter guards, roof, furnaces and more.

The property has a county assessed value of $154,900 (www2.county.allegheny.pa.us). Over the past three years, 15 houses have sold on Maple Lane for prices ranging from $135,900 in November 2011 to $1 million in June 2012 (www.realstats.net). Maple Lane is within walking distance of the shops and amenities in the village of Sewickley.

"I didn't grow up there, but I got to meet a lot of the neighbors in my mom's final days. It is a really nice neighborhood and street," Mr. Leahey said.

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Rosa Colucci: rcolucci@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1661. First Published July 28, 2012 4:00 AM


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