Western Pennsylvania is full of interesting homes – many of them built by self-taught men who had the will and vision to bring them to life.
Walt Andrews was that kind of man. Her daughter-in-law, Mary Andrews, told me about her home at 109 Fronko St. in the central township which he built for himself and his late wife, Bunny. The lovers of a lifetime passed away late last year, just two months apart.
“He was 86 when he died,” says Mary. “They were there all the time. It was his pride and his joy.
Walt’s story began in Pittsburgh, in a depressed part of town. When he got a job as an adult, he wanted to leave town. He bought some land in Beaver County and spent his weekends building the A-Frame Alpine-style chalet from scratch. When much of it was over, he and Bunny moved in. Today, the two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath house includes a large attached garage and an apartment.
It is listed for $ 249,000 (MLS # 1488629; Rita Brimmeier, Piatt Sotheby’s International Realty, piattsothebysrealty.com, 724 / 462-6140) and is open by appointment in accordance with state COVID-19 guidelines.
The personalized stone and stucco exterior is enhanced by large arched windows. Over the years, Walt has added and made changes to the house.
“It was all about natural materials, wood and stone,” says Mary. “He had no experience with stone. He hired someone to install the stone for the fireplace before he learned from them and then he did all the stone outside the house.
The flat land measures 75 by 164 square feet. There is a stone courtyard, a long driveway and a beautiful courtyard. There are several water games inside and outside the house. During his lifetime, Walt kept bird feeders everywhere.
Once inside, a mid-century modern vibe sets in. Hardwood floors, cedar wood walls and more stone create a lot of geometry and make this a low maintenance home. The main living room is a sprawling 28 by 12 square foot space with a vaulted ceiling and a dramatic fireplace wall. A second wall has an Asian-style landscape mural. Large windows fill the space with light.
The living room attaches to a kitchen built on a 90 degree corner. It has ceramic tile flooring and white cabinetry with a mix of glass and full arch doors. Countertops are granite, and stainless steel appliances include glass cooktops, double-wall ovens, and side-by-side refrigerators.
Everywhere you turn, there is a circular design.
“He loved the arches and the round design – even in the garage,” Mary says of her stepdad. “He was setting up the arches. Where he grew up, everything was very framed and square. He just loved the feeling of openness.
The dining room measures 22 by 13 square feet. Because the house was large, it hosted all family gatherings.
Across from the kitchen, a 29 by 10 square foot room had many functions over the years, including hosting a game room with a pool table. In their later years, the couple lived only on the ground floor. This was easy to do as there is a full bathroom, as well as a second bathroom which has been converted from an existing utility room by adding a disabled accessible shower and toilet.
With its long pond, the biophilic design of the veranda was way ahead of its time. A door leads to the outdoor area.
On the second floor, a 21-square-foot by 12-square-foot en-suite bedroom was once two bedrooms. Walt knocked down a wall and unified the space, which could easily be converted back into two rooms. There are two exterior spaces attached to this level; a rear balcony and a front gazebo.
“Sliding glass doors lead to a small promenade and a terrace,” says Mary. “There was a tree growing there, when it got too big he took it off and added the gazebo.
Another bathroom in avocado green hues with brass fittings on this floor. The hallway carpet and railing are a rich red. An iron spiral staircase leads to a 21-square-foot by 12-square-foot bedroom with cedar wood walls and floor-to-ceiling windows that provide a view filled with trees. It’s a spectacular space – made to Walt’s taste.
“I first saw the house over 30 years ago. Like everyone else, I found it to be cool and unique, ”says Mary. “He did it the way he wanted. It’s weird. And he wanted it to be done right.
Drawing on her years of experience in the area’s real estate industry, Rosa Colucci’s Hot Property will offer insight into the unique and historic homes currently 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 will provide an in-depth look at the area’s real estate market in Pittsburgh HOME Magazine, track home prices and sales, and detail where the most sought-after properties are located. Rosa can be contacted at [email protected].
About: Canton of Center
Planes, Trains & Automobiles: A 17 minute ride to the airport via I-376. Daily transport via the port authority.
Schools: Central Valley School District. (centralvalleysd.org) Serves 2,400 K-12 students. STEM program, 16 university sports, numerous student clubs and school activities, including musical concerts, choirs and orchestras, excursions and dances.
Neighborhoods Monaca and the Township of Center date back to the mid-1800s. Fireclay is found in large quantities in the area and at one time more than 20 companies were processing raw materials into glass along the Beaver River. It was the home of the Anchor Hocking factory, where the still highly collectible Depression Glass was made.
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