Buying Here: Victorian in Beaver retains classic splendor
November 18, 2016 10:17 AM
Built in 1900, this Victorian home features lots of gingerbread detail on the grand porch.
By Rosa Colucci/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Many a song, poem and play has been written about old houses. The Italianate-style house at 652 Bank St. in Beaver is certainly worthy of such treatment.
“It was built around 1876, when there was no plumbing. There was evidence of gas lines and all of the fireplaces in there were gas,” said owner John Pizzella.
He bought the home with his wife 14 years ago from an older couple. He has lovingly cared for it, but now the Pizzellas are selling. It’s on the market for $325,000 (MLS No. 1248585) with Rita Brimmeier of RE/MAX Select Realty (724-462-6140 or www.remax.com) It is open by appointment.
The home was actually built a few blocks away, on College Avenue. In 1900, the owners spent $3,000 -- a princely sum back then -- to buy a little more than one-tenth of an acre and relocate it.
“It was moved with horses and dragged on crude logs back in the day,” Mr. Pizzella said.
The house has ornate spindles and a double-door entry, a feature that made it easier to split the house into two apartments around 1955.
“One of the tenants bought the home and turned it back into a single-family dwelling,” he said.
When the Pizzellas bought it in 2002, they began a restoration that included rebuilding porch decks, replacing spindles and installing new hardwood floors made by Baird Brothers in Ohio. They also took a great deal of time testing and choosing paint colors to make it a true “painted lady.”
“The bow windows on the side had all of the decorative elements on the house so we used that to test the palette — yellow green and terra cotta red,” Mr. Pizzella said.
Inside, horsehair plaster was repaired, walls were painted and fireplaces restored. Some held surprises.
“Along the way, they were painted bright turquoise and when I stripped the paint thinking it was marble, I found that it was soapstone painted to look like marble,” he said.
The couple found an expert painter to restore the faux finish that was common in the Victorian period. Other mantels are cast iron.
In the 8-by-8-foot entry, Venetian plaster enhances the walls. Tile was imported from England for the floors. Individually hand-cut and laid, it forms a dramatic mosaic pattern that was repeated on several fireplace hearths in the home. It is one of many elements that helped earn the house the Beaver Area Heritage Foundation Historic Restoration & Beautification Award.
Original oak doors and a carved newel post are highlights of the entry, which leads to the 18-by-14-foot dining room. It features another bow window, ornate wood trim and a second front entry. Above the door, a red glass transom adds warmth to the color scheme, which is balanced by a crisp, white-painted wainscot.
The 16-by-14-foot living room has a brass chandelier, more wainscoting and a curvy wood mantel. It and the 14-by-14-foot family room boast traditional furnishings, colors and fabrics.
The couple recently updated the 13-by-11-foot kitchen by refinishing the cabinets and installing new granite counters, fixtures, a sink and ceramic tile floor. Nearby is a powder room. All ceilings are 9 feet throughout the home.
A porch on the back of the house offers lovely views of the small backyard, which leads to a stone patio. A two-vehicle carport is there, too.
The second floor has three bedrooms, the largest of which is the 21-by-14-foot master with soft green walls and an attached sitting area with large closet. The other two bedrooms measure 14 by 12 feet and 13 by 11 feet. One has a neutral gray color scheme and the other is pink. A fourth room measures 10 by 6 feet and is used for yoga. The full bath has a soaking tub and ceramic tile surround in warm colors.
“When a bathroom was put in up there, they took part of the bedroom. This space has been plumbed for an upstairs laundry if anyone wants to move it,” Mr. Pizzella said.
The laundry is currently in the basement along with a 13-by-12-foot paneled bedroom. There are steps to the outside.
The home has its original metal roof. To keep it sealed, the homeowner uses Acrymax roof coating. There is central air-conditioning and forced-air gas heat, a water softener and updated electric panel. The windows have been replaced and there is a home warranty.
The property’s assessed value is $55,100. In the past three years, six houses have sold on Bank Street for prices ranging from $177,500 in November 2014 to $245,000 in May 2013 (www.realstats.net).
“All old houses need work and attention. You just have to understand how people lived back then. It’s just a couple of thousand square feet, but a really cool, really unusual house,” Mr. Pizzella said.
Inside out: Located at the confluence of the Beaver and Ohio rivers, the 1.1-square-mile borough was laid out in a grid along the banks of the Ohio, with numbered streets running parallel to the river. Planners included four public parks and a town square, so no one has to walk more than three blocks to enjoy a public green space or the riverbank.
The borough’s population is 4,471. You might be surprised to know that many of the sidewalks are paved with bricks and giving the area a hometown feel. Third Street is home to dozens of businesses, many of them family-owned, including Kretchmar’s Bakery, the Beaver Yarn Shoppe and Castle Toys and Games.
History was made here at Fort McIntosh. Built in 1778, it served as the headquarters for the Continental Army and was the site of a 1785 treaty that opened the Northwest to settlement. The borough became the county seat in 1800 when the county was formed.
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