Jhe year was 1955. Gasoline was 29 cents a gallon, a loaf of bread was 18 cents, and sending a love letter would cost you 3 cents postage. And the average price of a house? About $9,000.
It was during this time that cement worker Edward “Spitz” Caliguire built a house for his new wife, Helen, as a wedding present. Located on a double lot at 269 Sebring Avenue, it is a stone’s throw from Helen’s family home at the corner of Westfield Street and Sebring Avenue in Beechview.
“My aunt is 85 and has never lived more than three blocks from the house she grew up in,” says Helen’s niece Kim Hollabaugh, who is handling the sale of the home with other family members. “My uncle passed away in 2011. They were married in 1957 and together for almost 54 years.”
The mid-century modern ranch is priced at $174,900 (MLS # 1541115, Richard Xander, Berkshire Hathaway, thepreferredrealty.com). It is open by appointment.
The never-renovated all-brick home – kept in immaculate condition by Helen – is a rare find for Beechview. It includes three bedrooms, two bathrooms and an enclosed veranda. Along with a cyclone fence in front, the house property includes several flower beds filled with perennials and flowering shrubs.
“She was an avid gardener,” Hollabaugh says of her aunt, who is no longer able to live on her own. “The crocuses are already starting to grow. She was up front tending the yard last fall. She loved her flowers.
The original smooth-skinned front door to the house has a doorknob placed in the center of it; there is also a three fan window detail. Once inside, the stacked stone fireplace catches your eye with a central “V” detail and oak side panels with brick planters at the base. There is also a quirky light fixture hanging from a chain. The carpet covers the original floors.
Further on, the kitchen is marvelously preserved in time, down to the wall oven. Oak cabinetry features original black hardware, while Formica countertops and vinyl flooring complete the vignette.
Hollabaugh says that after the Caliguires got married, his uncle became a Pittsburgh City Policeman, working in the motorcycle corps.
“He was working [from] 3 to 11 and was coming home for her dinner break,” says Hollabaugh. “[Aunt Helen] loved to cook for him.
A door from the kitchen leads to the enclosed brick veranda, where Hollabaugh says Helen spent several days enjoying the view.
The three bedrooms in the home all have the original hardwood floors and tall sliding casement windows. The built-in cupboards in each room have sliding doors with recessed circular brass handles.
Painted in light lavender, the smallest of the three bedrooms features a mural that Helen painted.
“He’s a super creative person,” says Hollabaugh. “She painted the fresco freehand. It took him several weeks and contains images of spring, summer, autumn and winter.
In the original full bathroom, pink square tiles with a gray rounded nose and a gray alcove tub are charming. The basement has a large cedar closet and very high ceilings. There are also shelves and a large work table where Helen did a lot of her crafts.
Also in the basement is a full bathroom including a corner shower with an aluminum shower door and mosaic tiles. A brass bubble light hangs next to the vanity mirror. The backyard is large and a long driveway provides access to the one-car garage.
Hollabaugh says she and her sisters have enjoyed keeping many of the memories the family has created at home – and they continue to marvel at the remarkable way Helen has preserved it over the years.
“She was a wonderful housekeeper and she loved this house,” says Hollabaugh.
Hot Property is an inside look at unique and historic homes on the market. Each week, Hot Property goes behind the For Sale sign to share the story of a special Pittsburgh-area home. And four times a year, Hot Property provides an in-depth look at the area’s real estate market in Pittsburgh Magazine HOME, tracking home prices and sales and detailing where hot properties are located. Rosa Colucci can be reached at [email protected].
On: Beechview (beechviewing.org)
Planes, trains and automobiles: 25 minutes from the airport. Daily transport via Port Authority T-Rail line and street buses. On-street parking and parking meter. Carpooling available.
Schools: City of Pittsburgh, including Pittsburgh Obama 6-12, an international studies program just around the corner of Highland Avenue and East Liberty Boulevard. (pghschools.org)
Neighborhoods: Beechview has a vibrant business community. Renovations have recently been made to the local Carnegie Library and Community Center. The T-Lines run along the main street, making it easy to get around town. The neighborhood is also home to the world’s steepest residential street, Canton Avenue, which has a 37% gradient and was featured in an automotive campaign for Audi.