Dormont House Tour set for Oct. 6

Published Sep 24, 2013 at 4:05 pm (Updated Sep 24, 2013 at 4:05 pm)

After a six-year hiatus, the Dormont House Tour is back. And, Dormont Public Library Director Cindy D’Agostino couldn’t be happier.

For 18 years, the library had benefited from the tour, which featured houses, apartments and businesses throughout the borough. The event began in 1989 when Norm Simeone organized it. Tours continued until 2007 when the former library board member decided to step down.

An attempt to revitalize the tour failed in 2009 and no one offered to take over the reigns. Until this year, that is.

Because she and her girlfriends missed going on the tours, Janice Wyrostek volunteered.

“Every year I would call the library and say, ‘Are you having it?’ And, I’d get a ‘no.’ But this year they said, ‘We can’t get anyone to run it. Are you interested?’ So I decided to give it a shot.”

Because she worked for the municipality and is a crossing guard, Wyrostek is familiar with the community.

“Janice knows a lot of the homes and people in Dormont, which was a blessing,” said D’Agostino. “She has connections.”

While out walking, Wyrostek found some of the homes that will be featured on this year’s tour. “I’d see a really cool house and just leave a note on the door,” she said. Others volunteered their homes.

While she has never organized a house tour, Wyrostek said, “It’s been running really smoothly.” So smoothly, in fact, that almost every slot on next year’s tour is filled.

The 2013 Dormont House Tour will take place 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 6. Eight homes, including a duplex, and three businesses: The Dormont Historical Society, Hollywood Theater and South Hills Power Yoga; will be featured.

Seven of the homes were built between 1910-1928 and are “just massive, square footage-wise,” said D’Agostino, adding that the newest home was built in 1950.

This year’s tour includes:

• 2960 West Liberty Avenue: Constructed in the early 1900s, this home was converted into three apartments in the mid-1950s. Since purchasing the home in 1993, the Malka family has restored it to a single-family dwelling. They also updated the bathrooms and renovated the kitchen.

• 1530 Grandin Avenue: Built in 1925, this home was in poor condition when Mame Kendall and Mary Ann Achter purchased it two years ago. They have since updated the plumbing and electrical systems and refinished the floors. A fifth bedroom has been converted into a second floor laundry.

• 1627-1629 Memorial Drive: This duplex, owned by Jeremy Smith and Christina Dorko was constructed in 1925 and renovated in 2005. One side reveals a “love of visual contrasts, creative reuse and all things vintage.” The other reflects “machine-age functionalism, Pittsburgh’s industrial heritage and the homeowners detail-oriented personality.” Sharing a passion for art, the engaged couple has numerous works by regional artists. “This duplex is very unique because it’s very different styles on either side,” explained D’Agostino. “She’s very eclectic and he’s very modern, so it will be neat to see that.”

• 3035 Windermere Avenue: Having only three owners since it was built in 1927, this 1800-square-foot home features an original Spanish tile roof along with original stained glass windows in the living room, dining room and second floor hallways. Since 2007, both the kitchen and master bath have been remodeled. A new deck and large, personal garden were both added by the owners, Alex Shetler and Mary Jo Maggio.

• 911 Parkside Avenue: Extensive repairs didn’t deter George and Mary Beth Jaber from purchasing this 1928 fixer-upper. After tackling the roof, windows and drains, the homeowners moved on to the bathrooms, then added a fourth bedroom before remodeling the kitchen. Outside, a flagstone sidewalk, deck and shed will soon share space with a greenhouse and gardens as a 45-foot adjoining lot was recently acquired by the Jabers.

• 2700 Miles Avenue: This 1928 home, purchased from the original owners’ daughter, was well-maintained but desperately required updates. Renovations began in 1993 and included new wiring and fixtures. “Layer after layer of wallpaper” was removed from the walls and ceilings. Rooms were opened up, bathrooms remodeled, windows replaced and original hardwood floors refinished. A large, stained glass window overlooking the entrance highlights this home, owned by Gary and Dode Scheimer.

• 1620 Kelton Avenue: Built in 1950 and renovated in 2000 by the current homeowner, interior designer James Kraus, this 1300-square-foot home is “masculine but modern,” according to Wyrostek, with hardwood floors, fireplace and neutral color palette. A variety of trees, perennials and a stone fireplace complete the outside of the home.

• 2822 Espy Avenue: This Victorian home, which dates back to 1910 and was featured in 2007, welcomes tour goers back. A 55-foot porch, one of the largest in Dormont, invites visits to enjoy free refreshments and live music. The yard features an English garden, grape arbor, small fishpond and garden.

While she has not seen all of the interiors of the houses, D’Agostino is excited about the event and the enthusiasm the owners and Wyrostek have exhibited.

“I know some of the owners and how much work they’ve put into their homes,” she said. “I trust Janice’s knowledge. She’s gone on more house tours, but we both have a love and appreciation for the character of homes in this neighborhood.”

The Dormont House Tour is not a “decorator’s tour.” Instead, the tour highlights what has been done to preserve and enhance the qualities of Dormont homes, providing restoration, renovation and remodeling ideas.

An added bonus for tour participants will be the ability to view before and after pictures. “It gives you ideas for what you can go home and do,” said Wyrostek. Homeowners will also be on hand to offer information and answer questions.

Because the borough encompasses just under 1-square mile of space, the Dormont House Tour is entirely “walkable”. However, because the event will be held Sunday, free, on-street parking is available. Participating homes will be marked with yellow signs in their front yards.

Future plans are to add a garden tour, said D’Agostino, either separately or along with the house tour. But for now, she said, “We’re just really blessed that we have such great help with Janice.”

Proceeds from this year’s tour will be added to the library’s general fund, which helps to support programming, book budgets and salaries. Additionally, a $150,000 capital campaign is underway to repair erosion to the hill behind the library, which was built in 1962.

Dormont House Tour

When: Sunday, Oct. 6

Time: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Price: $20

Tickets: Purchase at the library, located at 2950 W. Liberty Avenue.

Information: Call 412-531-8754.

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