USC House built in 1800s could be demolished

Published Oct 1, 2013 at 5:25 pm (Updated Oct 1, 2013 at 5:25 pm)

Maxine Brunwasser of Upper St. Clair has many memories of taking her children trick-or-treating; specifically at a house across the street known to many residents simply as the Hoffman House.

Brunwasser, who has lived in her Fort Couch Road home for more than 50 years, remembers the historic house, built in 1880, fondly.

“There was needlepoint (textile) on the risers of the staircase in the house,” she recalled of a time when she was in the home. The house also still has its original wooden windows.

Brunwasser also attended an auction at the house several years ago and bought a random box.

“It was a box of crepe paper costumes meant for children to play dress-up,” Brunwasser said.

Now, the home at 623 Fort Couch Road could be demolished because of its poor condition. According to the Historical Society of Upper St. Clair, the house is one of about 20 houses in the township built prior to 1900 that is still standing.

“The options are to either bring it up to code or abate it,” said Randy Hindman, building inspector for Upper St. Clair Township.

J. Peter Hoffman and his family lived in the home. Later his daughters, referred to as the Hoffman Sisters, lived there as adults.

According to Jean Brown, president emeritus of the Historical Society of Upper St. Clair, Emma Hoffman was a teacher at the McMillan School and her sisters were also teachers in the Upper St. Clair area. The sisters’ cousin, Clara Hoffman was the post mistress at the former Beadling Post Office. Agnes Hoffman was the last sister to reside in the home.

The sisters never married and all worked as teachers.

“That family is an old family,” Brunwasser said, ranking them with other prominent Upper St. Clair clans like the Morrows and the McLaughlins.

“At one time people were trying to make it into a bed and breakfast,” she said.

The history of the house indicates only two families have owned it.

Currently, Marcia Paradis of Upper St. Clair owns the home. She acquired it after her husband, Eugene Brunozzi, died. According to the Allegheny County Assessment website, Brunozzi bought the house for $77,000 in 1983 and Paradis inherited it in May of 2011.

The house is listed as “condemned/boarded up” and structurally unsound on the assessment website.

Brown said “minimal repairs” were done on the house over the years because there were no men living in the home.

The property was condemned by the township and Paradis was told to either clean it up or tear it down. Because there is so much damage to the home, including fire damage, Paradis has chosen to demolish it. She has already filled in a large cistern in the back yard.

Brown also recalls that when a bank moved into the community, the manager inquired about a historical house to recondition. He looked at the Hoffman House. However, it was in such bad condition that he did not want to do the work.

“I feel bad that the house will be demolished. It’s just sad,” Brown said. “The Hoffman’s were one of the backbones of the community,” she added.

A demolition permit must be filed with the township to raze the building. It is Paradis’s responsibility to procure one. As of Sept. 30 no permit has been filed.

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