Buying Here: Mine owner built a gem in New Kensington
February 24, 2017 12:00 AM
Mark J Holewinski/MJH Imaging.com
The three-story brick house boasts a wide front porch and a smaller back porch.
By Kevin Kirkland / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Jean Nader grew up in an 1830s house in Springfield, Va. In 1974, when she and her husband, Howard, were looking for a house big enough for their growing family, they were delighted to find a grand house built in 1906 in New Kensington.
“It has a half-acre lot, it’s flat and it had a history,” she said. “It was a great house to raise four kids.”
For 25 years, it was also a great place for her business, Jean’s Fine Dining. Mrs. Nader catered and hosted wedding receptions and other events there until last year, when she retired. Nearly 80, she is looking for something smaller in the area and has put 350 Fourth Ave. on the market for $199,000 (MLS No. 1240092) through Karen Mandak of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services’ Allegheny Valley office (412-779-2667 or www.howardhanna.com).
The three-story brick house with four bedrooms, three full baths and two powder rooms was built in the Parnassus neighborhood for Belle and Henry E. Kinloch, an English immigrant who formed Valley Camp Coal Co. in 1910 with J.A. Paisley. In addition to the mine, which operated from 1917 to 1936, Mr. Kinloch was an officer of the Parnassus National Bank and he and his wife were major donors to Citizens General Hospital.
The mine, bank and hospital are gone, but this house remains. It has a wide front porch that leads to a leaded-glass door. Off of the 16- by- 9-foot entry is a paneled 15- by- 15-foot study with a wood-burning fireplace and a 16- by- 14-foot living room with a gas-burner and marble surround. But the grandest room of all is the 19- by- 16-foot dining room. It has tall windows, a window seat and a table that has five leaves and seats 16. Mrs. Nader bought it in the 1970s from a house in Fox Chapel. She would consider selling it with the house.
All of the first-floor rooms have 9- or 10-foot ceilings, crown molding and hardwood floors. The 20- by- 10-foot kitchen was last updated in the late 1970s and has a large banquette and table in a nook.
At the halfway point of the original staircase is a second floor with four bedrooms and two full bathrooms. The 14- by- 13-foot master bedroom has a gas-burning fireplace. The other bedrooms measure 10 by 6 feet, 14 by 10 feet and 15 by 14 feet. One has a decorative fireplace. The two second-floor bathrooms boast original stained-glass windows and some original fixtures including a sink, tub and toilet.
The third floor, the former maids’ quarters, contains a large bedroom, a bathroom with a clawfoot tub and two smaller rooms. The basement holds the laundry and a finished game room with a bathroom and catering kitchen.
In the late 1970s, the Naders replaced the slate roof with thick asphalt shingles that look like slate. When they replaced the roof, they added insulation in the attic. Though there are original windows in the study, living room and the upstairs bathrooms, most windows are vinyl replacements. They also updated the electrical and plumbing systems, but not the radiators and boiler.
“I have Mr. Kinloch’s boiler,” Mrs. Nader said proudly.
A plumber has told her it is 82 percent efficient, amazing for its age.
Ms. Mandak, the Realtor, said one attractive feature is an apartment above the detached one-car garage. Mrs. Nader said she and her husband had planned to offer it as a rec room to their children when they were teenagers, but they preferred to listen to music with their friends in the main house. She said the tiny bathroom and bedroom above the garage would require a lot of work to be usable.
The garage is entered by an alley rather than a driveway. A well has a new pump that can be used to water the many trees, shrubs and perennials that Ms. Nader has planted. They include evergreens, dogwoods, rhododendrons, tree peonies, hydrangeas, Japanese anemone, daffodils, tulips, winter aconite, ageratum and herbs. Boxwood anchors a formal garden and a patio was added in the rear, by an original back porch. A shade garden contains bamboo, periwinkle, bluebells and vinca.
Outside her kitchen window, Mrs. Nader planted a Southern magnolia to remind her of her Virginia birthplace. Mostly protected by the house, it has grown at least 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide.
The property’s assessed value is $26,340 (www.co.westmoreland.pa.us). Over the last five years, eight properties have sold in the 300 and 400 block of Fourth Avenue for prices ranging from $12,008 in June 2011 to $52,000 in May 2014 (www.realstats.net).
She noted that there are several restaurants, doctors and other professional offices nearby and the Allegheny River is just a block away.
“I have a base of friends here,” she said. “I’d like to stay in the area and commute.”
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