Buying Here: Coraopolis

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Like many river towns in the Pittsburgh region, Coraopolis has seen better times. The Ohio River community has witnessed the rise and fall of steel and industry and is now looking to the future by building on the past.

A big part of that history is the housing stock -- solidly built homes with architectural details, character and charm.

The four-bedroom Colonial-style Foursquare at 823 Chestnut St. (MLS No. 972177) is on the market for $169,000 and is listed with Pam Keczmer of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services (724-601-5442 or

"I looked up the block and down the block and something just drew me to this house," said owner Wentworth Miller. "Thought I would spend the rest of my days there, but guess that won't be."

The three-story red-brick house sits on a corner lot with mature trees and landscaping.

Over the past 10 years, Mr. Miller has planted a variety of evergreens and ornamental grasses and installed two small ponds in the fenced-in backyard, creating a relaxing retreat by the large wooden deck.

Running the length of the front of the century-old house is a covered porch with double porch swings.

"The charm factor is old-world construction where homes stand for decades," said Mrs. Keczmer.

Pocket doors, 10-foot-high ceilings and beautiful wood trim are things not often found in today's newer construction and certainly not at this price.

Since Mr. Miller purchased the home in 2003, he has made numerous updates, including rewiring, new outlets and a new furnace. In the past two years, he put on a new asphalt-shingle roof and new circuit breakers.

More than just surge protection, the new electrical system also detects any deterioration in the wiring.

"Some fellow did a heck of a job of re-grouting the brick outside with a red grout," Mr. Miller said, noting that the unusual shade of mortar makes a nice contrast to the ivy that has grown up the wall over the years.

On the second floor, Mr. Miller took a bit from one of the other bedrooms to create a master suite with a bath featuring his and hers vanities and an enclosed shower with ceramic tile flooring. The master bedroom measures 14 by 14 feet and has two closets, tall windows and a 9-foot ceiling.

The 20-by-25-foot third-floor bedroom is a hideaway with a partial view of the river and an appealing combination of angled ceilings and window seats created by the four dormers.

With a small bonus room that could be a walk-in closet or another bathroom, this could easily become a home office with style.

There are two more bedrooms (14 by 13 feet and 14 by 14 feet) on the second floor and another full bathroom with a shower-tub combination, ceramic flooring and wood vanity.

A wide double staircase leads back to the 11-by-10-foot foyer or to the kitchen in the rear.

The solid-wood cabinets in the 14-by-12-foot kitchen feature a warm honey tone that carries over to the breakfast bar. A neutral tile backsplash and counter top give the new owners options to update the decor without having to make a major investment.

The appliances include a dishwasher, an over-the-range microwave, a refrigerator and a newer gas cooktop.

Access to the two-car attached garage from the kitchen means there's no need to walk in the rain with the groceries. Added by a previous owner, it is a modern feature that is rather unique for an older home in the area.

Another major update is the lower-level family room, spacious enough for a pool table (which is staying), a furnace room and a laundry area.

The neutral carpeting in the 15-by-14-foot living room extends to the four bedrooms. Mr. Miller installed hardwood flooring in the 15-by-13-foot dining room.

There is gas forced-air heating with central air conditioning Mr. Miller had installed a couple of years ago. Several rooms feature ceiling fans.

The property has a county assessed value of $104,900 (

Over the past three years, three properties have sold on Chestnut Street for prices ranging from $70,000 in November 2010 to $125,000 in May 2013 (

The house is a couple of blocks from the town's main street and offers easy access to the airport and shopping in Robinson. It is a 15-minute commute to Downtown (non-rush hour) via Interstate 279, Route 65 and Route 51. Coraopolis also is at the beginning of the Montour Trail, which can take bicyclists all the way to Washington, D.C. The riverfront offers boating and fishing.

Mr. Miller sees his house as a great family home.

"It's a great area for young people to come to because housing is so affordable."

And Mrs. Keczmer sees the history.

"Every home has its own character. This house has been standing for 103 years -- just think of all the generations that have been through the home, the history."

Lizabeth Gray:

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