Buying Here: Mount Washington


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Owning a piece of history means you also have a responsibility to the past to protect and preserve. When that is also your home, it can be a fine juggling act.

This is one act that Chatham Village homeowner Beth Goodwin not only managed but also did so excellently, taking a worn and tired house and creating a home that features the best modern conveniences while honoring its history.

The Georgian Revival townhome at 654 Pennridge Road, Mount Washington, (MLS No. 979302) is on the market for $325,000 and offers three bedrooms, 21/2 baths and an unobstructed view of Chatham Woods. An open house is scheduled for 1-4 p.m. today, hosted by Coldwell Banker Real Estate sales associate Kathy Reinecker (412-398-4896 or www.pittsburghmoves.com).

Designated a National Historic Landmark in 2005, Chatham Village's design came out of the British Gardens City Movement as interpreted by urban planners Clarence S. Stein and Henry Wright. Dr. Charles Lewis, the first director of the Buhl Foundation, invited them to Pittsburgh and the first stage of the community was completed in 1931.

Mrs. Goodwin's spent several years working on her townhouse, built in 1935 as part of the second stage.

"I have in the past remodeled houses and was looking for another remodel," Mrs. Goodwin said. "This particular one hadn't been touched since 1935."

Reconfiguring the first floor by removing several walls, she opened up the dreary space, bringing in light and an urban sense of style with soft grays and shades of white.

Down the length of one wall in the 20-by-15-foot living room is a wide picture window centered between a pair of built-in bookcases topped with crown molding. The window offers a view of the green, the houses surrounding a central communal green space. It's a 1930 version of social networking that fosters a sense of community with natural beauty rather than technology.

In the 10-by-7-foot galley kitchen, cabinets painted a soft shade of white feature glass-paneled doors and brushed nickel hardware. Though it's not a large room, the tall window at one end and the granite countertops combine to give it an expansive feel. A tall hallway pantry offers plenty of storage.

"The reason I got the cream stove, microwave and refrigerator is I wanted everything to blend in. ... I didn't want stainless [steel] to jump out at you," Ms. Goodwin said.

Appliances include a Maytag gas stove with double oven, a bottom-drawer refrigerator, a KitchenAid dishwasher, an over-the-range microwave with built-in exhaust fan and a garbage disposal.

Although not professionally trained in design, Ms. Goodwin's ability to make the most of the townhome's footprint is evident throughout.

"I lived here for almost two years before I did anything," she said. "I wanted to see how I lived in the space and that helped me see what I wanted to do."

A half wall with a single Roman-style column at one end divides the kitchen from the 14- by-11-foot dining room. A second half wall divides the living and dining room, giving the first floor the feel of an open floor plan while retaining the structural integrity.

Adding to that openness are French doors in the dining room that lead to a Juliet balcony. From there, occupants can see the former Thomas Bigham House. Built in 1849, it is now known as Chatham Hall and is used as the village's clubhouse.

"This was originally a four-bedroom [unit] but I combined two of the bedrooms to make a bigger room for my daughter and give her a closet," said Ms. Goodwin, adding with a smile: "Another wall that went by the wayside."

The main bathroom is art deco in style with a shower/tub combination, a new Marmoleum floor in black and a double vanity with black countertop topped by twin mirrors and chrome lighting.

Both second-floor bedrooms are good-sized (18 by 9 feet and 14 by 12 feet), but it's the third-floor master suite that steals the show. Ms. Goodwin created a new footprint by removing a hallway.

An oasis of muted shades of gray and aqua, the master suite is a retreat at the end of a long day. Shaped by dormer windows, the rooms measures 20 by 13 feet and has loads of storage tucked away under window seats and in a cleverly designed closet.

The bathroom has subway tile walls and a basket weave pattern on the floor set off by white beadboard wainscoting and soft aqua paint. The frameless design of the glass shower doors, jetted tub and heated floor add modern touches to the classic scheme.

"She's kept it true to the charm of an English village," says Mrs. Reinecker. "People are coming in asking, 'Can I buy the house with all the furnishings?' "

Because most Chatham Village residents enter their townhomes via their garage rather than their front door, Ms. Goodwin designed the mudroom off the garage with plenty of counter space for packages and storage for boots and coats. Down the hall is a well-organized home office with lots of cabinets, a powder room and a stacked laundry system tucked away behind louvered doors.

Making the most of every bit of space to be found, Ms. Goodwin also created shelves under the stairs. On the third floor, there is a pull-down staircase in the ceiling that leads to more storage.

Chatham Village is a cooperative rather than a condominium complex, so buyers don't own their individual units. They own a portion of the entire complex based upon the value of their home's purchase. A monthly fee covers a range of items that include the complex's property tax, security services and maintenance of the units' exterior and landscaping. There is a detailed list of services and membership advantages on the website, www.chathamvillage.coop/en/home.html. Because it is part of a cooperative, this townhome does not have an individual assessment and individual sales are not recorded by RealSTATs.

Something potential buyers should bear in mind is that because this a national historic district, there are restrictions on renovations that can be seen from the outside.

Ms. Goodwin worked with a contractor who prepared drawings for the house committee to review. During her renovations, she updated some of the plumbing and interior wiring along and added central air conditioning. Each unit has its own boiler maintained by the coop that provides radiator steam heating.

Ms. Goodwin enjoys the beautiful surroundings, convenient location and the community spirit of Chatham Village. In fact, her next remodeling project will also be in Mount Washington, she said.

Lizabeth Gray: lgray@post-gazette.com.


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