A life well traveled, well collected, well lived. The evidence fills the spectacular city residence of a prominent couple who recently moved into an historic building. Their apartment occupies most of an upper floor, with views on three sides that provide a breathtaking panorama.
The house sits majestically on the crest of a hill, with sweeping vistas of other hills and the wooded valleys that connect them. There is little evidence of civilization even beyond the 33-acre site, which makes the home seem private and remote.
“I was desperate,” explains interior designer Jeffrey Graciano as he stands, looking anything but, in his Louis Vuitton loafers, gray slacks and crisp, white shirt. The Churchill native was recalling how he ended up buying a nondescript, 1960s faux-colonial ranch on a cul-de-sac in Fox Chapel.
This is the story of a thoroughly modern dilemma that was solved by a building erected in 1901 along the banks of the Allegheny River. More than a full century later, the Armstrong Cork Factory in the Strip District is bustling with life and assorted pursuits of happiness.
A casual inventory of the materials Philip Elias used for the interior of his 1920 home sounds like an exhibit in the hall of minerals. Semi-precious stones including tiger’s eye, lapis, charoite and sodalite mingle with Paridisio, Empress Green and Rojo marble as accents amid pale squares of Portugese limestone.
One of the many paths through Frick Park wanders past the house, which sits on the crest of a hill overlooking acres of woodland. Each time he passed it, the current owner would tell his wife that if it ever came on the market, he would buy it.
Following in the footsteps of Brandon Smith would be a daunting task for most architects. He left his imprint throughout the region, designing in his lifetime (1889−1962) many Western Pennsylvania landmarks.
The before pictures of the house in Fox Chapel would send a chill through the heart of even the most accomplished renovator. An 1870s cottage married to a 1950s ranch created a charmless union, to say the least.
Their Shadyside home was one of the city’s finest, sequestered at the end of a leafy cul-de-sac. The grounds included a stone courtyard, large pool and formal rose garden that Tim and Audrey Hillman Fisher often used for the many benefits and parties they hosted.
From the outside, the stone and shingle cottage could easily be perched along a bucolic lane in the Cotswolds instead of a quiet road in Fox Chapel. That’s what makes the inside all the more remarkable.
When Paul O’Neill was appointed Secretary of the Treasury in 2001, he planned to secure a pied-á-terre in Washington, retain his main residence in Pittsburgh and, with his wife, Nancy, vacation at their Maryland beach house. But finding an acceptable home in the capital proved to be somewhat difficult.