1899 Queen Anne, Beaver, PA

Lost or Demolished
Added to OHD on 3/1/12   -   Last OHD Update: 1/13/19   -   145 Comments
199 Beaver St, Beaver, PA 15009
  • 6 Bed
  • 4.5 Bath
  • 6000 Sq Ft
OHD Notes
According to the article on the Post Gazette website, written in 2008, this home was split into 13 bed, 5.5 bath apartment building (not sure at what time it was reduced to 6 beds.) It features 12 fireplace mantels, pocket doors, leaded and stained glass windows. I don't know what, if anything, has been done since 2008. 7/8/12 Update: Timesonline.com reports that the home is pending demolition if a buyer is not found to preserve it. 10/23/12: Demolished! Article Link, YouTube
Status, price and other details may not be current and must be independently verified.
OHD does not represent this home.

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145 Comments on 1899 Queen Anne, Beaver, PA

OHD does not represent homes on this site. Contact the agent listed for details including current price and status.
  1. AvatarRyan says: 569 comments

    Nice! This house is so roomy and has lots of nice features. It does seem to have great potential, too…if this town could possibly support something like a Bed & Breakfast. The neighborhood is very attractive and looks to be well kept. The only thing is…I’d be embarrassed to tell people that I lived on Beaver Street in the heart of Beaver, in Beaver County yet!
    🙂

    • AvatarJohn C says: 469 comments

      Do you know a Cleaver family? That would tie it all together.

      Also the potential B & B would be a B & B on B, in B, next to the flowing B. I think this is ad executive’s dream.

      • AvatarElisabeth says: 1 comments

        The town will not give permits for it to become a multi unit home or a B&B which is why its been on the market for years. The contractor walked through and quoted just the plumbing and electrical at 50k….foundation has problems, then of course a million other things. House has beautiful bones but it might end up being a money pit.

        • Avatarjohn c says: 469 comments

          Thanks, Elisabeth. I think that local knowledge, namely that the local council won’t allow it to be a multi-unit or B & B, although it was a multi-unit in the past, explains a lot about the problem this house is encountering in being sold

  2. AvatarMark says: 162 comments

    Ryan, it’s also right near the “Big Beaver” river.

    I don’t think you’d want to open a B+B in Beaver. It’s fairly run down.

    • AvatarMerryweather says: 1 comments

      I have to disagree. I live in Beaver, and I have to say that the town is not run-down by any stretch of the imagination. True that this town is more like Mayberry than a bustling metropolis, but there is a lot of pride of ownership here. And as far as the town economics go, this house is also about a block away from some 500K+ and million dollar properties.

      One of the reasons that the town won’t let the house become a multi-unit is because of the stereotypical reputation multi-family dwellings have (i.e. “slum-lords” and irresponsible tenants). Still, I don’t understand why a B&B would be out of the question. This borough does make some weird decisions, but the decision to weed out multi-units is essentially to keep the neighborhood/town from devolving.

      The whole situation is really a shame — this house is amazingly beautiful even in its run-down state. (Oh, and the house is actually much closer to the Ohio River than the Beaver river.)

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  3. JimJim says: 4105 comments

    Love this place, exc. for the location, condition and the green.

  4. AvatarTracy says: 102 comments

    A former beauty. What a shame…

  5. John ShifletJohn Shiflet says: 4645 comments

    This was obviously a grand home back in the days when a staff of servants was necessary to keep up a home of this size. Inflation and structural economic changes since then have largely wiped out the upper middle class servant staff phenomenon for all but the very wealthy. Only someone with at least $500k-$1 million to spend on restoration could ever hope to bring the old manse back to a semblance of its original glory. Alternately, an investor might rehab it for continued rental use but even with historic tax credits, it would take quite a while to realize any return on investment. Still possible would be for someone to live in it and slowly restore it one room at a time but that would only buy the house more time, unless the aforementioned required large sums of money were later available. (as in someone’s rich uncle died and subsequently left them with a fortune to finish up the restoration) Beautiful house here with some very nice period details but also strong visible cautionary signs indicating a “money pit” situation. Not a good project in this example for an old house beginner or for the shallow of pocket.

    • JimJim says: 4105 comments

      John, I have no quarrel with your basic take on this house, and clearly your estimate of $500K – $1MM makes the full restoration of this property infeasible for any private party to undertake. It simply makes no economic sense. But I wonder if the house could be made livable and enjoyable for a far lower figure, assuming no major structural problems exist. Obviously, it’s impossible to assess it accurately based on a few photos, but I don’t see anything, besides possibly the front porch, that would require complete reconstruction. Your figure is $80-$160 per sf is almost in the range of new construction.

      • AvatarJohn C says: 469 comments

        That is a perceptive comment, Jim. I recall being in the house — a former abbey — where part of Spenser’s Faerie Queen was written. It was (in the 1960s) a cold house, vast, poorly lighted and with little electricity in some of the rooms, with some missing plaster and little paint in most areas in many, many years. Yet for all that the house was lived-in, with great joy, by a family that included an artist painting huge canvases, a daughter who was working as a blacksmith farrier, and a father who designed the prince’s crown for the then recent investiture in Wales. Everyone led useful, productive and wonderful lives. The house was in stable condition, although in terms of full restoration it no doubt would seem a ruin. If a house is stable and the family is strong enough, a great many amenities can be done without so long as there is room for all the family activities and a joint willingness to be active.

        Of course for some of us full restoration is one of the prime activity and objectives. Others may be content with one or two rooms restored fully and others left rough, in order to achieve other goals. A family that has a house left untouched but matained as it is, will hear no complaints from me if they fiill it with love and activity. That is what all houses, new and old, are for.

        For any individual and the decisions to be made, all this is a very complicated weighing of just what one wants, in what locality and structure, and what that given structure can do.

        Of course, my comment is nothing new. As always, I find the comments on this site and the selections by Kelly stimulating and near-essential in development of my own thinking. I will think this posting and these comments over for some time to come.

        • AvatarJohn C says: 469 comments

          I think John Shiflet’s comment on another house, the one at http://oldhousedreams.com/2012/03/01/1880-italianate-watertown-ny-499500/ , illustrates the other side of the coin. There is a beautifully maintained home, very spacious, etc., but in a location where one assumes there is little of interest to do, with winters long enough to give one cabin fever, all the while paying out extraordinary sums in property taxes and other charges. Of course, all of those assumptions may be subject to challange and qualification: John himself points out the possibility of internet business occupations and one might find Watertown vibrant etc. Still, a home — even a beautiful and fully restored home– is a useless burden to someone unless the life to be lead there is happy and productive in all or as many aspects as possible.

          Kelly does so much bringing to the site and to us these examples from all around the country. But they are examples of real estate available, and the difficult part begins only when they are presented: each of us has to think what would we make of the particular house presented and of our life there. That is a difficult detailed question, of course, and so many of us use shortcuts: too expensive, no probable occupation opportunities, etc. I don’t see any way around that. It is unfortunate because it is negative thinking, those shortcuts, and thus some possibilities are lost and not realized even to exist.

          Again, I realize that my thoughts are not everyone’s thoughts or even concerns, and I beg indulgence. How provocative (in the best sense) this site is! Thanks to all and especially Kelly!

        • John ShifletJohn Shiflet says: 4645 comments

          Could this house be restored for less than $500k? Maybe, but that guesstimate was based on replacing the electrical, HVAC, and plumbing systems, as well as dealing with smaller issues like basement seepage (if it exists) roof leakage, (if any) repairing or replacing deteriorated porch elements, repainting the exterior and interior, refinishing the floors and millwork, repairing any damage caused by being divided into apartments, relining chimney flues for any wood burning fireplaces and retrofitting gas log type burners in the smaller coal burning fireplaces, attic insulation, updating the kitchen and determining the needs for updating the 4.5 bathrooms. Last would be landscaping and repair/maintenance of any outbuildings. The large trees near the house represent a wind damage hazard-while I love mature trees they should not be next to a house. Have I gotten to $500k yet? But I did say that someone could take a minimalist approach for far less outlay but in my opinion that would merely buy the house some time rather than make it ready for another hundred years of use. Jim is 100% correct in that my figures are merely guesstimates and the total outlay may be less or more depending on the actual condition of the house. Every old house buyer would be wise to hire a third party home inspector familiar with old houses for an unbiased condition report.

          As for the surrounding community, the regional economy, climate, demographic mix, and other important factors, a potential buyer would be well advised to devote their time to study all of these important aspects of quality of life before buying any old home. I met a family originally from North Carolina a few years ago who had bought a large Queen Anne style home in Uniontown, PA. They, for all practical purposes, had bought their old house sight unseen with zero knowledge about the community. Fast forward a couple of years and their children keenly longed to be back in NC. The kind of work the husband did was in slack demand. They had already decided to sell and go back to their home state because they still loved the old house but disliked the community, the local economy, and the general quality of life there. All potential old house buyers need to carefully evaluate important aspects pertaining to the location as well as inspecting the old house itself.

    • JimJim says: 4105 comments

      John, I wish that your analysis was way off for the sake of the house, but I don’t doubt that someone writing checks for the renovation here would be into it for close to a half-million before they were through, if not more. Most folks today require up-to-date systems and amenities, and shabby accommodations are only acceptable for the poor. Apparently this house fell below even those standards and was vacated.

      There are many people who have the money to put into a project like this, but only a few who would live in a “seen better days” neighborhood in Beaver PA, especially if there was little prospect of getting their money back. That leaves only a few random millionaires who might fall in love with the place, or maybe a local contractor that can fix it up on his own time and showcase his abilities. It’s wishful thinking on my part that the total cost could be kept within a moderate range to increase the potential pool of purchaser-renovators.

      The only near-comparable fixed-up place in the area has been on the market for quite a while:
      http://www.prudentialpreferred.com/real-estate/index.cfm?fuseaction=property-detail&proptype=res&MLS=904259

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  6. AvatarJohn C says: 469 comments

    Very well said, John, and very well thought out. And I think the example you give goes to the heart of the decisions many of us have to make!

  7. Robt. W.Robt. W. says: 449 comments

    Hard to say how badly the house suffered from being chopped up into many apartments, and variously reconfigured, but expect it could be made solid and handsome for under $500K, perhaps even $300. But in Beaver PA, in that somewhat rundown looking setting of lesser houses, it’s maybe a lot to ask that that much would be spent (the comparable total money spent in the same region can go pretty far.)

  8. AvatarMark says: 162 comments

    Funny that John mentioned Uniontown. I was going to lump Beaver Pa in with numerous others areas such as Uniontown, New Castle, etc. in Western PA, in that they have/had tremendous housing stock that basically are on a downward spiral. Essentially everywhere in Western PA that was once a small city falls into the same boat.

    Beaver has its own hospital and some places to work. It’s also 35 to 40 minutes to the city area of Pittsburgh where there are lots of places to work. In theory, it should doing ok.

    However, this house would have to be in reasonable move-in condition to be priced at $169,000 in Beaver. Adding several hundred thousand in repairs makes it unsellable. For half of the $695,000 of the nearby property, one could purchase two move-in ready historic houses in the best Pittsburgh suburbs, or one really nice house even closer to town in the best neighborhoods of the city. The problem may be the largest local city has too much to offer in comparison to these outlying large towns.

  9. AvatarRyan says: 569 comments

    Other websites have this listed at $149,000.00 now. It’s hard to tell a lot without actually going there, but I don’t get why people are saying this is a bad neighborhood. From what I can see, it’s full of big old houses that all appear to be very neatly kept. There are mature trees lining the streets, and there’s a leafy park nearby. Beaver’s downtown area appears to be clean and active, and I don’t see any glut of burned out buildings, or empty storefronts, or anything like that. In this particular neighborhood I don’t see any run-down houses at all. Plus, when I looked for similar real estate listings, I did see some large Victorians in the same general area of Beaver, Pa, and all of them are asking a WHOLE LOT MORE than 149 grand. A simple 3 or 4 bedroom brick Victorian in this neighborhood seems to average about 180 grand, but there are larger homes (five or six bedroom places) that are listed for as much as $700,000.00. Obviously the condition of any such house would prolly be much, much better than this one, but still…this house doesn’t seem like a totally lost cause to me. Maybe I’d have to visit the town in person to see what others are talking about.

  10. AvatarBob H says: 112 comments

    I think for this house and town–that area of PA for that matter–this has to be a labor of love and a lifetime investment.

    Make it as beautiful as YOU want and live in it and use it with the knowledge that it will not return your investment in $$ but it will give you return in satisfaction that you saved a grand house and get to live like a Baron for little $$ (providing it isn’t collapsing…)

  11. AvatarJohn C says: 469 comments

    I just noticed this morning that the price has been reduced to $149,000.

  12. AvatarJohn C says: 469 comments

    As to “neighborhood” and the fact that some are referring to the neighborhood as well-kept, etc., and others as impoverished, I am becoming confused. Are people referring to the immediate neighborhood of the house or, instead, to Beaver, Pa (the borough in the county, etc.)? The Wiki reference says that almost the whole community of Beaver is in an historic district designation, that the poverty rate (as of 2000) was 3 or 4 per cent (depending on whether one viewed individuals or families, that the median income for a household was $42,000-odd and a family some $56,000. Even given that costs of living are higher, no doubt, here than in many other locales, those are pretty impressive figures compared to other towns presented on this site.

    I thought at first blush I understood the reference to lesser houses. However, Beaver may be one of those towns where larger houses were built next to “lesser houses” and, as to at least one other town (St. Joseph, Missouri), I thought some indicated that having the nicest house on the block, etc., was acceptable if that was the pattern of the town. Besides, others have indicated that there are large homes near this house. I myself have not been able to google-map this house at streetview to see the immediate housing stock and street.

    The one thing I am certain I understand is that the proximity of suburbs adjacent to Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh itself renders the price on this house too high, given what is comparable and available in those towns and that city. Moreover, the “amenities” that John correctly says most people want and that we assume this house does not have, do have a cost. If one assumes that the closer-in suburbs and Pittsburgh have better houses that are comparable in scale and architecture, at a lower price, then of course this is over-priced and that is an end to the matter.

    However, am I correct that if this house, as listed and described so far as we know it, were available at, say, $44,900, we all would believe that this could be a potential bargain? I am thinking of the South Boston Virginia house at http://oldhousedreams.com/2011/09/01/1910-eclectic-s-boston-va-73900/ That is another brick house in bad shape. That, too, had been a multi-family, and although it is in a town with larger homes nearby the town has poverty and income figures worse, I think I remember, than Beaver Pennsylvania. What prompt me to ask this is that I do not recall quite such an intense discussion of possible resale values, restoration costs, etc., as to other posts. Does the discussion reflect the fact that the house is tempting?

    • JimJim says: 4105 comments

      Beaver PA is by no means impoverished, blighted or crime-ridden. The demographics compare favorably to most of the towns surrounding Pittsburgh. There are many towns in the region that have suffered far greater in the last 50 years of economic contraction due to the loss of the once huge industrial base. Beaver was never a suburb of Pittsburgh, and there are attractive suburbs closer in that have captured the upscale old and new home markets. I suppose Beaver could be considered a lower priced alternative, but there’s lots of competition. I said that the neighborhood has “seen better days” only because many of the older houses have been converted to rentals and don’t reflect pride of ownership, not to suggest it was a bad place to live.

      Obviously resale is an important consideration before someone is going to invest upwards of a half million dollars total into a house. I’m not talking about flipping the house for a profit; that seems out of the question. But loving an old home and the quality of life it can provide over the years is not going to overcome the concern a family might have for their life-savings being tied up in a potential money pit. In a major metro area, the risk is less because the housing markets are much more predictable, or at least were until the last few years. If this house were in a good New York suburb, the market would price it accordingly and it would have been bought and renovated (for better or worse) years ago.

      There’s a huge difference, both in dollars and level of risk, between a $45K house in S. Boston VA that someone can move into and fix up as much and as quickly as finances allow, and this place which is $150K plus maybe $100K just to make it habitable, plus who knows how much in the future to restore it. Unfortunately that’s not a risk that anybody has been willing to take.

      • AvatarJohn C says: 469 comments

        I think that, as I remarked a moment ago in regard to John Shiflet’s examples, that the matter is now resolved. Jim has pointed out the forumulae: huge difference in dollars and level and risk. I don’t mean that we are all bottom-feeders, but our analysis, by each of us, seems intelligently geared with these explanations. Ultimately those calculations depend on an initial price.

        The South Boston place needed a new roof immediately and had damage upstairs, if I recall the comment by the prior realtor. Still, I thought that in the abstract at the price then (around $59,000, before the latest reductions, if memory serves me right), the South Boston home was in the range of “doable”. It would certainly seem to be so now, subject to a thorough inspection.

        My only lesson to myself in these matters is to take comments about the neighborhood, etc., with a different point of view. Such critical comments are probably not, in the final analysis, deal-breakers, but they assume importance to us if the price seems too high given, as Jim says, risk and costs.

        Ryan, thanks for the aerial view report! That is helpful.

        Now all we need to do is reassess if and when the price begins to be substantially reduced!

        Thanks, everyone.

        • Robt. W.Robt. W. says: 449 comments

          All good points. From afar, a low price grabs attention (and sometimes visions of living like a prince, but for mere peanuts.) Most of us, though, are from afar, and however theoretically ready we might be to pull up tent stakes and move across state or states for the right house, there are a lot of factors that go into that decision.

          Sticker price may be important, but there’s a larger “whole cost”: taxes, relocation, cost of renovation/maintenance, cost of living, but also less tangible factors like setting (immediate, town, region, access to amenities) and “livability” demographics concerns that are highly individual.

          For historic houses, one buyer’s $149,000 house may stretch their budget; another may have to stage slow improvements over a long time; and a third may fully anticipate spending multiples of the purchase price at the outset. It may represent a large investment for one person, a lifetime labor of love for another, or a mental more than a financial challenge for another. Some buyers are so taken with a house that they will make what others regard as hard sacrifices on its setting; others want the right historic house no less, but also want to be in a beautiful setting, or among like minded people, or close to an international airport, or a college town, or some complex combination.

          If buyers of new houses tend to buy more within expected bands of pricing relative their income and resources, that’s less routinely the case with people who “Will Move for Dream Old House.” A lot of historic houses may start out priced optimistically for that very same ideal buyer from anywhere, but far more often they end up selling at a price more in line with the similar house two blocks away.

  13. AvatarRyan says: 569 comments

    “As to “neighborhood” and the fact that some are referring to the neighborhood as well-kept, etc., and others as impoverished, I am becoming confused.”

    Welcome to the club, John:) I have never been there, and I couldn’t find any google street view that worked, but I did carefully scan the neighborhood using Bing’s Aerial map. This house is bigger than most of its neighbors, but there are still plenty of other very large homes nearby. There are a number of very expansive, seemingly well-kept Italianates, Queen Annes, Tudors, Georgians, Colonials, etc., etc., etc. on this same street as well as on the surrounding blocks. I can’t figure out why anyone would say it’s an unattractive or impoverished neighborhood. To me it looks lovely and appreciated.

  14. AvatarMark says: 162 comments

    Jim’s argument is right on the money about the house and the neighborhood. This property would never be for sale(essentially for 4 years now) if it could compete with other properties in the region.

    It may be a 6000 square foot mansion, but it’s also a fairly common 6000 square foot mansion for the area.
    Honestly, I’ve seen houses comparable to this for sale at around $100,000 in Western PA and they were lived in single family homes.

    • John ShifletJohn Shiflet says: 4645 comments

      During our short visit to Western PA in 2009 we visited Uniontown, Washington, tiny Millheim in Centre County, and Ridgway+ Bradford near the NY state border. Mark is correct in that 6,000 sq. foot mansions in the smaller towns are common. Here’s a few photos of Washington’s wealth of old homes as well as a half-dozen photos at the end of this set from Uniontown: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11236515@N05/sets/72157618437859030/ There’s some irony in that very large old homes with incredible period details are often difficult to sell at any reasonable price. The upkeep on a 6,000 sq. ft. or larger home is always going to be more than for a house under 2,500 sq. ft. Ditto for keeping it warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Property taxes are going to be higher. And, as stated, there are a LOT of these big old houses in Western PA but few people with the means to restore them and even fewer who are willing to relocate there. A net outward migration has been the regional pattern for decades, especially in the southwestern PA region closest to West Viriginia. I don’t have any suggestions or formulas for selling a house like this one but I do believe it will have to be priced somewhat lower for it to sell. When we visited Bradford, there were several houses of this size and grandeur priced in the $115k to $135k range and two of them have since sold. (to out-of-staters) Here’s some Bradford photos and a couple of nearby Ridgway PA photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11236515@N05/sets/72157618714282071/
      Ohio, western PA, and western NY, have some of the best old house deals in the country provided the buyer is willing to cope with all the other factors that are a part of living in these areas.

      • JimJim says: 4105 comments

        John, thanks for the photo links – and all your work to document and preserve historic structures.

      • AvatarJohn C says: 469 comments

        John, I join in all those sentiments. You are remarkable in what you do, what you know and what you intuit and distill from what you know and give so freely to others! I think this information adn thess exaamples resolve my questions.

        • John ShifletJohn Shiflet says: 4645 comments

          Thanks for all of the kind words. I’m passionate about saving and preserving old/historic homes (the argument here is that every home has some kind of history imprinted on it by the passage of time, though not necessarily an important history) We are literally in a preservation crisis nation-wide brought on by the collapse in real estate markets. Some cities are dealing with the crisis by opting for mass demolitions; other old houses in more remote areas and/or smaller communities slowly deteriorate and fade away on their path to eventual ruin.

          If anything I may suggest helps to save even one worthy old house then my time here is well spent. Historic preservation sometimes runs against the American cultural ideal which nearly always chooses the new and shiny over anything old and faded. Genuine early Colonial era houses were being razed in the 1800’s for the same reasons that we now demolish houses from the 1800’s and early 1900’s (or even later)

          While it may seem to us (from this site) that there’s a large body of caring people about old houses, the reality is we are a small subset within the general population; far more folks wouldn’t be caught dead living in an old house. Thanks for being part of this small “old house” club and thanks to Kelly for making it happen on these pages in the unique way that she does. I feel privileged to share my comments here. If I were to set up my preservation soapbox at the local Mall I’m sure I would be talking to myself. You folks are really special and I mean that in the kindest way.

          • Kelly, Old House DreamsKelly, Old House Dreams says: 693 comments
            Admin

            1901 Folk Victorian
            Chestatee, GA

            I had to smile at the “…we are a small subset…” line. Mostly because apart from my own family, my in-laws know nothing about me having this blog since they are kind of anti-old anything (they call antiques “junk” and more recently said that my husbands grandmothers 100+ year old home should just be torn down, gasp!) It’s far easier to let them think I watch soap operas all day and eat bon-bons than to explain why I do what I do. And strangers, when they’ve asked what I do, their eyes go blank when I tell them about the site. I’m then reminded that not everyone loves old homes. 🙂

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            • Robt. W.Robt. W. says: 449 comments

              Ha! A secret life.

              Years ago some acquaintances stopped by my house and I could tell that they were appalled that everything was old. Later invited to party at their place, I couldn’t locate a single thing that was old. Even their couple of “antiques” were spanking new.

              Besides the real estate crisis that John Shiflet cites, I think there’s another shift had hold before the downturn in housing. It seems to me that in the 1980s was the flowering of historic preservation and that enthusiasm has since waned. Increasingly it seems people want only a vestige or two of something old, or as they more likely say the “authentic character.” In fact, they’re not much bothered by authenticity at all, and give it up in a heartbeat. The antiques trade underwent the same shift: the once thriving middle market has withered, the junky low end is a hard sell, and only the very top tier of quality does well. Where once people wanted to furnish their historic houses with antiques, they’re now happy with one or two “sculptural” or “whimsical” pieces — they don’t care about age or provenance or connoisseurship, they just want one random eye-catching thing, whether it’s a piece of a plane propeller or one little crumb left behind of an old house that’s been gutted and everything old made flashy and new. “Sensitive restoration” has given way to “gut job”, the answer to anything involving an old house, and many buyers seem happy only when their crown mouldings are fresh from Home Depot and everything slick and shiny and brand spanking new. Increasingly, even as historic preservation has become an accepted fact in many places, it seems that “old” is a dirtier word now than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

              • AvatarJohn C says: 469 comments

                As always, your perceptive remarks lead to some thinking. A small part of the problem, perhaps, is that “gut rehab” has some hugely positive cash consequences. (1) At least in the Chicago urban area, State Farm and many other insurers will not insure an older home/duplex/triplex, unless the company is assured that the house has had a gut rehab within a certain number of years, in which all wiring has been replaced, piping, etc. (2) Banks and appraisers are happiest when they hear those words. (3) Those seeking to rent houses or to buy them love to hear the words as well.

                On the other hand, as you truly state, historic preservation — along with the less hi-falutin’ repair and fix-up — is becoming accepted. Part of that, to be frank, is the economy. I know of a number of families looking at larger, old homes to houses multi-generational and extended families, the members of which plan to live together to economize. I also know of some unrelated people — people on disability and/or retirement — thinking of becoming “roommates” in old homes, a sort of Fawltey Towers where the roommate situation will avoid tax consequences.

                We live in interesting times, as the Chinese curse goes.

            • AvatarTracy says: 102 comments

              I once asked my grandmother (who started her married life in the Depression) why she had so few antiques in her house. I was (and am) heavily into them and couldn’t understand why she had so little to show after so many years. For her, she had cast them off over the years because they reminded her too much of the “bad old days” such as waking up to frost on your covers, mice running rampant through the house, long hours in front of a wood-burning oven, outhouses, etc. By having everything new, she could revel in all the conveniences that modern living had to offer.

              I was born and raised in a farmhouse Bungalow, and my mother hated nearly every minute of it. She and my dad renovated it by getting rid of nearly all vestiges of the original house and filled it full of miles of paneling and green textured carpeting with some Danish Modern thrown in. (shudder)

              I totally agree that people are not as interested in the quality craftsmanship of old homes nor the upkeep associated with them. Let’s face it; most people are only interested in staying in a house for maybe 10 years before they upgrade or transfer to a new job in a new town. What’s the point of starting a renovation in an old house when life has become so transient?

              A couple up the street from us attempted to sell their modest Craftsman with natural trim and built-in buffet but they couldn’t compete with the glut of new housing a couple miles away. No one wanted an old house when they could get a brand new one chock full of new appliances, white tile, and a sea of white trim for essentially the same price. Who cares what the new place will look like in 10 or 15 years? They’ll have moved on to the two-storey with a three car garage in another subdivision by then.

              We are a society surrounded by disposable products whether it is Blu-Ray players, TVs, houses, furniture, or what have you. Our economy seemingly depends upon this constant flux of products through our homes, replacing what is tired or broken with new. Houses are now the same. Throw ’em up overnight and when we get tired of them, move on to the next.

              We are a special breed; we thrive on and find enjoyment in the rich history to which we tether ourselves. There is something about being part of something that is larger and deeper than one’s personal experience. For me, that is being in close proximity to antiques and my old home. It allows me to dream of different days, simpler, but also harder in many ways. You won’t find any experiences like that in any house in a cookie-cutter subdivision with an “E” added to the end of the name to vainly add a sense of luxury or uniqueness.

              Pardon my soap box… As others have said before, thank you, Kelly, (and everyone else on this forum) for providing an outlet through which we may vicariously experience other locales and homes through your kind generosity.

              1
  15. AvatarDebbie says: 9 comments

    Thanks so much for the photos. I am learning so much from this website and I love the debates! I see now when I win my lottery, I will have to head to Uniontown.

    • JimJim says: 4105 comments

      Debbie, if you win the big one and want to relocate to Uniontown, you might want to look at this one:
      http://isaacmeasonmansion.com/for_sale1.htm

    • John ShifletJohn Shiflet says: 4645 comments

      Actually, I was more impressed by what Washington, PA had to offer but Uniontown does have a few gems. Almost every community of any consequence in western PA has architectural treasures to be admired. What I’m afraid of is that someday one of the folks here will announce that they actually DID win the lottery; the question then is will they (buy that old dream house) or will they not? Good Luck…

      • Robt. W.Robt. W. says: 449 comments

        Washington PA had several very fine early 20thC, architect designed Colonial Revival and Tudor style houses for sale a year or so ago, each large with 5 or 6 bedrooms and generous rooms and great butler’s pantries and sophisticated detailing and materials, and each sitting on large park-like lots of a few acres with apartments over large original garages and all the rest, and set within the same small but cohesive neighborhood of comparably good houses. All were very sturdily built and beautifully maintained; a couple had $100K kitchens that were not flashy and trendy, but done to a high standard and not out of sorts with the architecture. All were in the range of only $250K – 450K, and were for sale long enough that I suspect that sold for less.

        Despite the stylistic differences, it if were just a matter of value, the Washington houses had it all over the Beaver house. Both towns are practically the same distance to Pittsburgh, and though Washington has the advantage of a college, the real difference was a beautiful setting and move-in ready houses that don’t require a good $100K to make a dent in what absolutely needs done and maybe times two or three more to bring it to the finishing off point. It’s always apples and oranges, but that part of Pennsylvania has a richness of choice of great, cheap houses.

  16. AvatarMark says: 162 comments

    Or not!! Don’t get started on that one!!! It’s been for sale for about ten years and surrounded by abandoned cars, bad neighbors, legal issues, etc…
    http://www.post-gazette.com/homes/20020623meason0623fnp2.asp

    • Robt. W.Robt. W. says: 449 comments

      Ouch.

      At this stage in historic preservation, it’s a pity so much of the available grants are still tied to federal money (channeled through states) for tax incentives on commercial buildings and tax incentives through the Historic Preservation Fund. Thirty years ago that made sense, and it still does some places, but rescuing the landscape context of highly significant sites would be a better application of money in other cases.

      It sounds like the only solution at Mount Braddock (Meason House) is a buy-out of the neighbors whose property wraps (and spoils) the place. It’s a lesson, too, in not underestimating the value of setting when buying.

    • JimJim says: 4105 comments

      Mark, that’s a very old article. Apparently the neighbor has cleaned up his property considerably. The owners deserve credit for starting the restoration, but they’ve also created problems by overstating the threats and holding out for a large profit. The fact is they have been in way over their heads from day one. The property and surroundings could be taken by eminent domain if there were the political will to do it.

  17. AvatarCourtney says: 12 comments

    I am in love with this house! I am trying to figure out a way that I could live in it and fix it up but it seems impossible! It has a really great school district and such a charming town!! I drive through there often and though I would love to live there and only a short drive to Pittsburgh from there! It is truly my dream home I can imagine the rooms finished with a bit of old fashioned charm and the modern amenities of today watching my children grow up there and living there for the rest of my life even passing the home down through generations. I have been reading through the comments and hearing things about led based pain which I couldn’t have my children near obviously. I would just love to restore it to it former glory! Who knows maybe I will!

    • JimJim says: 4105 comments

      Go for it Courtney! The lead paint won’t hurt the kids unless they eat it, which shouldn’t be a problem if you feed them! Seriously, that’s a big project, but if attitude alone could get it done, you would be the perfect candidate.

    • John ShifletJohn Shiflet says: 4645 comments

      Lead paint is a real risk in old houses; however, as Jim has pointed out, the main risk is ingestion of paint chips or exposure to dust if any paint is being sanded nearby. One restoration manual I have states that in the process of sanding, fine lead particles of paint can remain suspended in the air in a closed room for up to 52 hours. But the risk of lead paint exposure can be minimized in several ways. The easiest is encapsulation…in simple terms, paint over the lead paint layers with a modern primer (KILZ 2 for example) and then top coat over it thus trapping the lead layers below it. Another is stripping with chemical based strippers. The old Methylene Chloride based strippers were awesome but were also quite hazardous in themselves. The newer citrus and soy based strippers are more expensive and take longer to remove multi-layers of paint but are far safer to use. Last, in the hands of someone with lots of experience, a small heat gun (emphasis on small) can be carefully used to remove multiple layers of paint but there is an ever-present fire risk; whenever I use heat to strip I always have a small water sprayer at hand and pre-moisten any area that poses a hidden fire risk (cracks or holes that go behind a wall for example) and make sure I keep the heat gun the maximum distance away from the surface that will still allow the paint to soften. I also keep it set on the lowest heat setting that still allows the paint to soften. Extreme patience is required along with careful attention to the stripping process. If you’ve never used a heat gun to strip, then DON’T. Too many fine old houses have been burned to the ground by workers using heat devices to strip old paint. NEVER, EVER, use one of the old hand-held blow torches to strip ANYTHING, the fire risk is extreme and damage to the wood below the paint layers is very likely. Electric heat guns (again, small ones) are somewhat safer but all come with an inherent fire risk.

      As for hazards to children, the younger they are the more vulnerable they are to lead exposure. Infants and toddlers should never be exposed to lead particle risks as such exposure can cause brain and central nervous system damage that is irreversible. Children over 5 are still at some risk but all childern should be kept away from any work environment where lead exposure is a possibilty. The EPA greatly tightened the rules for lead paint abatement a couple of years ago and require lead remediation certification for all contractors engaging in that kind of work. Read the EPA regs concerning lead paint remediation for interior work as it may not even be legal in your location for a homeowner to strip exterior lead based paint. I personally think the EPA went a little overboard with the stricter rules but if they keep just one child from having permanent CNS damage due to lead particulate exposure, then it would be difficult to argue against it. Asbestos is another common old house hazard and best left up to a professional to deal with. Old furnaces and boilers were often insulated with asbestos and it is most hazardous when it is fraying and fiberous. When the microscopic air borne asbestos fibers are inhaled they lodge in the lungs and over time lead to mesotheliaoma, a fatal type of lung cancer.

      At one time arsenic was used as an ingredient for green colored wallpaper inks and paints. Our ancestors would have surely refrained from using so many different hazardous substances but the level of scientific knowledge back then was insufficient to recognize the long term risks. You’ve probably heard of the “Mad Hatter”…because hat makers used mercury in the process and over time exposure to high levels of mercury can cause brain damage and insanity. Common sense should come first before any old house restoration project. Successful old house restorers always carefully evaluate every project for safety and with great patience and a thorough understanding, tackle the challenges.

      • AvatarCourtney says: 12 comments

        I am glad you mentioned the asbestos, I completely forgot about that and the risks involved with it. Also I wasnt aware of the arsenic risk. These are all things to be considered for sure!

        • AvatarJohn C says: 469 comments

          Courtney, John Shiflet’s words are always well-chosen and his thoughts always well-framed by experience and reading. More important, despite all that experience and knowledge, he still sees clear the dream of living well in older homes of grace and beauty. Get what advice you can from that wonderful fellow, is my suggestion.

          • AvatarCourtney says: 12 comments

            Well maybe I’ll need his cell number if I decide to take on this house! It’s funny how I see this house and it pulls on my heart strings. There was one other home near me that did the same and is currently being restored by and great family. I just find the Queen Anne style to be what appeals to me the most. If this one is not a possibility I will hold out until there is one that I can handle.

            An Mr. Shiflet I will gladly take any words of advice you may have!

            • John ShifletJohn Shiflet says: 4645 comments

              Thanks for the kind words, We’ve lived in our own “project” house for nearly 23 years and despite almost countless hours spent on it, it remains a work in progress. Ideally, we’d all have enough money to bring in expert tradespeople to do most of the work for us but wealth and old house people seem to be at almost opposites. If nothing else, we’ve bought our old home (c. 1889) another quarter century of survival and it will be for others to see the restoration work to completion. I see nothing wrong with taking a room by room approach and taking care of the essentials (roof, foundation, electrical/plumbing/HVAC) on a priority basis. We lived with a primitive 60 AMP breaker box and knob & tube wiring for almost 20 years before finally upgrading to modern standards. When the microwave was going and a window A/C unit on the same circuit was turned on, it would only take seconds for the breaker to kick out.

              It all depends on what you can comfortably live with…my spouse insists our next old home will NOT be a perpetual construction zone..but for almost 25 years, we have tolerated it. By the way, the peeling white paint seen in the attic or upstairs is probably NOT lead based paint. A very common and cheap interior paint of the past was Calcimine paint, a form of lime-based interior whitewash. Here’s a good article on how to deal with it from a pro: http://www.plasterlord.com/notebook/fcalcimine.htm
              Good luck with finding and purchasing your dream home be it this one or another. I’m always happy to offer free advice based on my long years of experience in old house restoration. (BTW, I can be PM’ed at vintrest@yahoo.com or 817-332-7016)

              • AvatarCourtney says: 12 comments

                Thank you so much I’ll keep you guys posted on what I decide! I have a feeling it may not be achievable at least for me at this moment in time. If this one can’t happen maybe I’ll find one on a smaller scale that’s more attainable!

  18. AvatarJohn C says: 469 comments

    Courtney, I’m sure everyone who frequents this site, just like Jim, warmly encourages you, after you have done all your thinking and figuring, to do what you think is best. Dreams and aspirations — rationally calibrated and thought through — are what makes life worth while; your dreams and aspirations are what make you, you, and at some point and in some way you will act upon them. IT is best to do act upon them as you are doing it now, carefully and with caution, rather than to pent it up until you recklessly act on some other ocassion. And of course I am saying those words to myself far more than I am saying them to you.

    I agree with Jim that unless one encourages children to eat paint chips (or, to put it another way, likes peeling paint and paint dust decor), one runs little risk of exposing children.

    Best of luck whatever you decide to do!

    • AvatarCourtney says: 12 comments

      John,

      As much as I want this house I know it’s a huge project, I wouldn’t jump in with a blindfold on 🙂 I am defiantly in love with it even though my husband just sees a money pit and I agree with him on that. I am actually having a good friend who is an electrician and a contractor look at the home and see if it is actually a possibility to live there and fix it up one room at a time. I haven’t been inside the house yet so I have no real idea of the disrepair. I am interested in the electrical, plumbing, roof, foundation and the basement as well mold and things of that sort are to be considered as well. Like I mentioned I have children and it has to be livable. I think my children are too old to eat the paint ha ha. I have no real idea on anything that would have to be done I have never attempted to do any sort of DIY things in any home because I have never own one. I caught sight of this while looking for a home to buy for the first time. As much as I want this place to be mine I fear it is too much for me and my wallet but we will see after I have my friend looks at it.

      Although if I won the lottery like someone else mentioned I would be on it in a hear beat!

  19. AvatarJohn C says: 469 comments

    If you decide against this one, there will be another house coming up to suit your dreams — Kelly will find it. And your sound thinking-process means your ultimate dream will be rewarding.

  20. AvatarCourtney says: 12 comments

    Just got a message that the house has been sold! Hope they love it as much as I do 🙂 I’ll keep my eye out for the next one.

  21. AvatarJohn C says: 469 comments

    That is the spirit. Often, too, the next one is easily noticed, appearing about an inch away from your face. Here’s hoping.

  22. AvatarAnn says: 9 comments

    Enjoyed reading some of your comments. House is NOT sold. Had a contract contingent on demolition. HARB voted against demolition now it’s in the hands of the Boro Council to determine its fate. There are other potential buyers in the wings now that price is $129,000 and reasonable for a significant rehab project. You are right, this is not a “flip”, but it is a property worth restoration. Sits in most desirable neighborhood of town, 1-1/2 blocks to Ohio River and only 1/2 block from parks leading to river. Walkable to conveniences including Starbucks…marinas on Beaver River. It takes awhile getting accustomed to the Beaver jokes, but who cares…aren’t we all old enough to drop the snickers? Lots of people from out of the area confuse Beaver and Beaver Falls…..two VERY different places. Beaver is a fantastic place to live just 30 minutes (with no traffic) to the Pittsburgh airport and 45 minutes to all that downtown Pittsburgh has to offer. Good access to schools/colleges/medical services, too. Currently out of about 1400 contributing properties in the Beaver Historic District (yes, another Beaver!), there are probably less than 30 homes on the market. The entire Ohio River frontage is a historic park overlooking the river that’s available for walking, hiking, reading, etc. Very quaint…and yes, safe..you can leave your bike in the front yard and your front door wide open overnight …you can “hide” the key under the mat where all the neighbors know where it is, too. The climate is also pretty nice. Great for gardening! Take time to look at the website http://www.beaverpa.us/. We landed here by “accident”…moving for work….Now, we are looking to move South to be near family, but we can’t find another Beaver anywhere.

    • John C. ShifletJohn C. Shiflet says: 4645 comments

      Ann,
      Thanks for the update. My spouse and I just spent a week visiting and exploring the Cincinnati area and drove over 100 miles out of our way to look at an Indiana old house in tiny Earl Park. So it would not have been much of a stretch to visit Beaver had I known of its current availability. It’s a great old home and worthy of some new caring owners who can bring back the pride it once displayed.

  23. AvatarCourtney says: 12 comments

    I am glad to hear that it isn’t going to be torn down! I drive past it often even though it’s out I my way. I think I’ll take some photos of it when its nice next. It’s really a truly amazing home a truei testimony to the Queen Anne style. There are a few very near it that are Queen Annes as well fully up to date they are breath taking. What an undertaking this home will be, but the end product will be amazingly gloriouse!

  24. AvatarRudy Moon says: 1 comments

    On may 30th, Council gave the house a 60 day “stay of execution”, if no genuine buy and renovate buyer is found, it likely will be demolished in late Summer 2012.

    • John C. ShifletJohn C. Shiflet says: 4645 comments

      Rudy,
      Assuming that information is correct…how can a house being sold for $129,000 be suitable for demolition fodder in 60 days? If the sellers truly are motivated enough to avoid a demolition they need to do some soul searching and consider lowering the price. Perhaps majorly, as in dropping it by half. I visited a similar large prominent home in Earl Park, IN just over a week ago and it had period features arguably even more plentiful and of equal quality to this fine home-Fannie Mae had dropped the asking price to $54,900 from nearly $200k originally and was even soliciting bids below that amount. The location is also a major issue even if Beaver is a wonderful place which, by many accounts, it seems to be.

      I’d hate to see the Sellers end up with a vacant lot which would probably only have a fraction of the value of the lot with the house intact. Large houses of this kind are difficult to sell when they need significant work; it scares a lot of people into thinking they are getting themselves into a “Money Pit” and, unfortunately, sometimes they are. If there’s no willingness to be flexible on the pricing, I see no practical way to stop the demo. Maybe the owners should solicit offers below the asking price and consider the one that comes closest to what they are willing to accept for it. Some intense marketing is now required to get this house under contract in under 60 days and lower pricing will be the key. (but caution is also required to make sure no buyers who can just barely comes up with the funds don’t find themselves in a similar situation not far down the road-that would not help them nor the fine old home. This house needs a hefty investment, not just a little paint and putty, so the shallow of pocket should avoid it, IMO.

  25. Avatarjohn c says: 469 comments

    From a 2010 Council Meeting:
    Gloria Cheshier stated that the property owner of 199 Beaver Street intended to
    continue the multi-family use of this property even though it has been vacant for 5 to 7
    years. She is concerned that there is uncertainty as to the definition of abandonment in
    the zoning ordinance. She asked that Council be proactive and clearly define
    abandonment prior to this property owner making a zoning application for a multi-family
    use. See http://www.beaverpa.us/government/minutes/09_14_10_minutes.pdf I infer that this has been a problem property for some time, at least in the eyes of the local citizens.

    The Historic Committee has recommended demolition as recently as April as to another property. See the actions taken as to 199 Second Street http://www.beaverpa.us/government/minutes/04_10_12_MINUTES.pdf

    • Kelly, Old House DreamsKelly, Old House Dreams says: 10061 comments
      Admin

      1901 Folk Victorian
      Chestatee, GA

      Is the exterior so bad off looking that it requires a vote to determine if it should be demolished? Or are there squatters, druggies and homeless going in/out of it?

      Too bad, it doesn’t look like a good outcome for this house.

  26. AvatarAnn says: 9 comments

    This property sits in the middle of a R-1, residential/single family, area. While the property was used for several decades as a four-unit complex (owner unit on first floor, 2 units on second floor, and 1 unit on third floor). When the owner died, it was sold from her estate and has not been occupied except for a couple who lived there for a short time in exchange for doing interior demo in preparation for restoration. The property was put on the market, probably about 2004-5 for a fairly high price and, compliments of the the demo work that was done, basically not livable without rehab. A few years later, the out of town owner “returned to the scene” and declared he was going to make it a multi-unit again. While it would have been grandfathered by the zoning ordinance if it had been in continual use, a period of “abandonment” occured which returned it to use as R-1 single family residential. There was some discussion of a “loop hole” regarding what constitutes “abandonment”. For some reason, the owner never followed through on this intent to return it to multi-use. Time rolled on, and now, the Boro Council, after hearing the HARB recommendation based on the significance of this property, voted to allow a 60-day period in which the house could only be purchased for rehabilitation (not demolition). After that, if there is a contract for demolition, they will reconsider. Yes, neighbors are tired of the “run down” condition and lack of lawn care and the “out of town” owner who just doesn’t care. Beaver homes in this area are well cared for and owned by professionals who take pride and maintain their homes and yards. The house is roman brick, however all the wood trim, facia, soffits, and entire porch and balconies must be replaced. It the porch that scares so many people. Absolutely, there are no “squatters, druggies, or homeless” even in Beaver, much less in this house! The going in/out seems to have been limited to a group of neighborhood kids who went in a couple of times about dusk with flashlights and cameras looking for ghosts. The police warned them and that was the end of it. You are right that the outcome doesn’t look good….unless there is someone out there looking for a great old property. It does need someone with enough money in hand to purchase, renovate the exterior, and complete at least one floor as a living quarter. The rest could be done over time. So where’s the perfect buyer? While it would be nice if the price were lower, it’s fair based on value of lot.

    • John C. ShifletJohn C. Shiflet says: 4645 comments

      Ann, Thanks for the clarification. Absentee ownership is the bane of many old houses suffering from years of neglect. So, if the house is demolished, who will pay for the demolition? I assume if the City/township/Borough orders the demolition, a lien with be attached to the property until it is paid back by the owner. As a preservationist and old house lover, I sincerely hope someone with the means to bring back this fine old mansion will appear on the scene before its too late. Thanks as well for the information about the lot value; in many cases, a fine old house is the main value with the lot having marginal value. Apparently, the location here is good enough for the land itself to be valuable.

  27. AvatarCourtney says: 12 comments

    My husband and I took a serious look at our finances and position at te moment and we are unable to do the house the justice it deserves. We would not be able to live in it and fix it. The porch is very scary the brick is crumbleing underneath it. Still the thought of this home being demolished literally made me cry. I’ve driven past it so many time and every time I can imagine how incredible it can be. The size and potential is amazing! This has been weighing on my mind for days if there were only something that could be done!

  28. John C. ShifletJohn C. Shiflet says: 4645 comments

    Time is quickly running out for this old mansion..does anyone know if there has been any progress or changes that might avoid demolition? I’d hate to see this one come down due to neglect. A person could not build a house like this one today for ten times the asking price amount. It would be a real pity if it is lost. I’d consider looking at it myself except we are still waiting for our old house to sell. Glad we do not have any deadlines to be concerned about.

  29. Kelly, Old House DreamsKelly, Old House Dreams says: 10061 comments
    Admin

    1901 Folk Victorian
    Chestatee, GA

    I updated the post with a link to an article from last month. I’d love to know your thoughts about the price the potential buyer is saying would cost to restore the home. It seems a high to me, over $800k to restore it?

    • Robt. W.Robt. W. says: 449 comments

      I don’t get the $800K+ estimate, either. With the disadvantage of not having seen the place (and possibly some of its less unphotogenic problems), figuring $150K for porches and exterior walls, $100K for roof & chimneys, $150K for bathrooms/kitchen, and $150K for sundry other work/utilities/finishes totals $550K which seems ample buffer to ensure restoration of the principal elements and renovation of some of the lesser, more utilitarian spaces and elements (kitchen, baths, electrical, etc.) all to a high standard and in a fell swoop. Of course there’s little limit to how much could be spent if one were inclined, but there’s also the possibility of spreading some of the work and expenditure over time, and savings from concentrating on particular priorities or aspects: some people, happy with the trade-off of having great public rooms, might settle for a $40K kitchen instead of $75K. The actual cost of the house is the least worry, of course; but some of the figures seem blind to location. Sinking $500K or $750K or $900K+ on a restored house on that street (of <$250K houses) doesn't seem the wisest financial investment, but neither does "Plan B", building a new house on the same site for $900K-1.2M.

      • John C. ShifletJohn C. Shiflet says: 4645 comments

        I agree with Robert in that the potential buyer sought a “pessimistic” high restoration figure to bolster his arguments for tearing it down. In simple terms, his logic was why invest close to a million dollars in restoring an old house when one can build a new one from scratch to modern standards for just a bit more? The argument that such a large investment could never be recouped after restoring the old house applies to a new million dollar home in the same location as well. If the existing mechanical, plumbing, and eletrical systems are servicable and repairs to the porch are done quickly by the owner(s) or local tradespeople, then a far lower figure is possible albeit with compromises allowed for continuing to use the old systems. I argued early in this thread that it might take as much as $500,000 to fully restore this home and that figure still seems realistic; but to meet the minimum standards for exterior appearances required by the community a huge investment would NOT be required. Very few old house buyers have a carte blanche type budget for restoration. Some do take on more than their budget can handle but most prioritize their needs and gradually make the improvements over time. Rather than speculate about the maximum amount that could be spent on the house (which in theory is limitless) better to focus on minimums and in doing so broaden the appeal for the property to the largest number of potential buyers. I do feel the absentee owner might be willing to work with a preservation minded buyer so that might be a factor to consider as well. In any case, if this house gets razed it will be one of the saddest losses of any old house posted on OHD. Surely, despite the weak real estate picture, there is someone with the means and motivation to save this fine old mansion that is steeped in local history. That person needs to be found as soon as possible while there’s still time to avoid a needless preservation tragedy.

      • AvatarMark says: 162 comments

        $500k here, $800K there….

        “….might settle for a $40K kitchen instead of $75K.”

        These kind of remodel/restoration numbers must scare people away from any old house. I can, and have made kitchens for $6 or $7k that I would put up against most any kitchen.

    • JimJim says: 4105 comments

      The scariest number in the article for me is $520,000, the low end estimate of the preservation-minded architect, meaning a $650K total price, minimum. It’s going to be a hard sell to convince a buyer that it makes sense, but I’ve seen crazier deals.

  30. AvatarMark says: 162 comments

    I agree that the restoration numbers have to be exaggerated greatly. This is Western PA, not CA.
    Nobody pays those kind of prices for repairs around here. If you are, you getting taken to the cleaners.

  31. AvatarAnn says: 9 comments

    Well, the clock is ticking on this property and one potential renovation buyer just officially dropped out of the running. I talked to the realtor last week and there are two parties interested in purchasing for demolition. It would be extremely sad to see this house go.

    Let’s face it, renovating and maintaining historic properties is neither cheap nor for the faint of heart. I think that if all of us who have done this had studied the “total price” we could or would spend on our historic properties; a lot of historic properties would have been lost. Fortunately, the price to buy this house is finally right. And, because the house was divided into four units: one on the first and third floors and two on the second floor. It would be possible to renovate the exterior and one floor making the house perfectly livable while “tackling” the other two floors over time. Hopefully, by the time it is finished, the US housing market will return to some sense of normal. A home just a few doors from this one sold for $435,000 in 2007….so contrary to what someone said about “on this street”….the house is in a perfect area to have value when renovated. Might I add, the weather in Beaver PA is pretty good, too. We’ve been grumbling about 90+ degrees this past week and the highest temp since 1988….but a fair number of houses in this neighborhood don’t have air conditioning because it’s normally not needed.

    • AvatarMark says: 162 comments

      Are they interested in purchasing for demolition so they can take all the parts out to sell?

      This just proves that old homes are like new homes… everything is “location, location, location”.

      If you moved this house 15 minutes away to Sewickley, it would have sold in 10 minutes at this price, to be restored and resold for well over a million. In Beaver, it just lingers, slowly approaching demolition at $129K. It’s too big, too expensive, and with too much work required. The price probably needs to be in the 90’s for anyone to buy it here without losing their shirt.

  32. Robt. W.Robt. W. says: 449 comments

    “The price probably needs to be in the 90′s for anyone to buy it here without losing their shirt.”

    I don’t think the fate of this house turns on a $30,000 reduction in the asking price, or even a $90,000 reduction.

    • John C. ShifletJohn C. Shiflet says: 4645 comments

      I agree with Robert, I know of a couple of parties interested in the property with or without the old house on it. The neglected state of this home is not mirrored in the surrounding neighborhood, that’s why pressure is being applied to fix it up or else. Of course, my hopes are for someone with compassion for the old house to buy it, not raze it for a new home. Given that only about 3 weeks remain, we will know something soon. (or will we? The Earl Park IN house’s fate is still a mystery weeks after an apparently unsuccessful second auction ended)

  33. AvatarAnn says: 9 comments

    I am seeking clarification now on whether demolition is “guaranteed” after 60 days. I believe that Council simply said they would give it 60 days to allow someone wanting to renovate to step forward before they would consider granting demolition. At least that’s what I’m hoping! The “guarantee” would mean the Seller could “pit” the renovators against the demolitionists to up the price and line his own pockets. Doesn’t seem exactly right, does it?

  34. AvatarToscar says: 56 comments

    ***

    As one who has experienced the dream..and nightmares…of old house restoration, as far back as 1978, I think the cost numbers thrown out by some are extremely high. That being said, how many people sit down and look at their mortgages for NEW home construction/purchase, with a 20 or 30 year mortgage, a purchase price in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and add whatever interest rate on top of that. It adds up to an astronomical amout of money over the duration of the loan….and without the wonderfully restored old home as an end result.

    I think the idea that a house like this needing so much work to simply move in…..and the location…is just too far removed from the simplicity of signing your life away on a new home without much hesitation. Also, a conventional mortgage has a set amount borrowed and payable each and every month and doesn’t usually require finding chunks of cash every few weeks or months to repair or add to your living quarters. As all of us who are passionate about old buildings know, it takes a VERY special person to tackle these gargantuan projects. The current real estate climate is the worst enemy right now of old homes and their potential buyers IMO.

    I hope someone saves this once grand old lady. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  35. meganmegan says: 101 comments

    Just another voice speaking for the ridiculousness of the numbers being thrown out for the restoration of this house. Our house in Pittsburgh was in worse condition, and identical in size and finishes. We purchased it for slightly more than this one is listed for, took a 203k loan for 100 grand, and were able to tear off and reinstall our slate roof, rebuild 5 chimneys, completely rewire the house to current code, replace rotted studs and completely overhaul the plumbing, including reconnecting our original hot water radiators – all the work done by one of the best contractors in the area. Other work we’ve done ourselves has totaled around 5000 more – refinishing floors, rebuilding (and backdateing) two bathrooms and a kitchen from scratch using craigslist etc . . . This isn’t to say it’s easy, but this Beaver house is a once in a lifetime type of house given the area it’s in, the city would be foolish to let it go, and prospective buyers would be foolish to take the given numbers to heart.

  36. AvatarCourtney says: 12 comments

    I have some pictures I took today is there a way I can post them in here?

    • meganmegan says: 101 comments

      Hi Courtney – Any chance you’ll be making a low-ball offer, I’ll be here in Pittsburgh cheering you on!

    • John C. ShifletJohn C. Shiflet says: 4645 comments

      Courtney,

      Thanks for taking another look at this endangered house. Seems that nearly every restored old house at some point in its past was under the gun facing demolition; my hopes are this fine old manse has one of the happy stories that follow a brush with oblivion. As for photos, I took some photos of the Earl Park, IN house back in May and posted them to my Flickr album and posted a link to the album in a OHD posting. Kelly was kind enough to incorporated that photo link later into the blog page for the house. Kelly may be able to offer better advice than I have but I’d love to see some more photos. It’s a really neat old house, IMO.

    • Kelly, Old House DreamsKelly, Old House Dreams says: 10061 comments
      Admin

      1901 Folk Victorian
      Chestatee, GA

      Hi Courtney! You can either email them to me at kelly@oldhousedreams.com or do as John S. did and upload them to a Flickr album. I know I’d love to see them too!

  37. AvatarCourtney says: 12 comments

    I only took two pictures with my phone but I am planning on going back with my dslr soon. I’ll let you all know when update it. I know an editor at the Pittsburgh Post Gazzette, maybe I can see if there is a way to peak interest that way if he is willing.

    http://m.flickr.com/#/photos/82889474@N05/

    • AvatarMark says: 162 comments

      Post Gazette?

      There was already a Post Gazette article on this home four years ago and that didn’t help.

      • Avatarcourtney says: 12 comments

        I see thanks for letting me know. I think I remember seeing something when I was look up information on the house now that you mention it.

  38. AvatarAnn says: 9 comments

    Courtney–If you have Post-Gazette connections, please try. The article 4 years ago didn’t include the demolition situation and the urgency. I contacted the writer of the first article, but did not get a response. Also, if you are seriously interested in the property, please “throw your hat in the ring.” So far, since May 30, there have been two couples seriously interested. One decided the timing wasn’t right in their “life cycle” and the other is still “scratching his head” trying to get it to make financial sense. This property needs an old house lover who plans to live in it a long time.

    Someone else suggested the owner lower the selling price to see the property is saved. The owner wants the highest price…without regard for whether the house is saved or razed. To date, it was a buyer who put contingentcy on his sales contract that the Boro must allow demolition. Therefore, it would be at the expense, etc., of the buyer to demolish it. The HARB ordinance allows for “suggestion” of architectural salvage, but it’s not binding. And, it is NOT the Boro saying the property must be razed….it’s buyers who want to purchase and demo the property for the lot. To understand this, you should know that Beaver is desirable (near Pittsburgh airport, on Interstate, and on Ohio/Beaver Rivers) and land-locked. There is also recent potential that Shell Oil will build “cracker” plant nearby in 2014….so there’s some speculation going on that housing/land values will increase drastically. Lots of things in play here!

    • Avatarcourtney says: 12 comments

      I would love to throw my hat in the ring. Unfortunately my husband doesn’t feel the way I do about the home he sees money I see life beauty and potential. I will send an email to the person I know at the Post Gazette. If the person who buys this home wants restore it I will volunteer any time I can to help in return for their permission to take photos every step of the way, and to learn how to restore a home for my self some day.

  39. Kelly, Old House DreamsKelly, Old House Dreams says: 10061 comments
    Admin

    1901 Folk Victorian
    Chestatee, GA

    Updated with photos from Michelle M. They are huge, so if you click on them you’ll see a larger photos.

    • John C. ShifletJohn C. Shiflet says: 4645 comments

      Thanks, Michelle! I was looking for the major brick damage said to be on the front porch but your photos tend to support that repairs are feasible and maybe not too expensive. I’ve personally worked on several porch repair projects and in one case recreating a replica of a Gothic Revival porch on a California house so this does not look that intimidating. Up close it still looks like a wonderful house. Thanks for sharing, Michelle.

  40. AvatarAnn says: 9 comments

    Where the brick is bulging on this porch is in area where most of the Beaver house porches have wooden lattice…inbetween the brick piers. One option could be to replace with wood, or reuse brick and have it relaid. It’s probably beyond just pointing but given the issues with wooden structure, it’s probably not the primary concern.

    • meganmegan says: 101 comments

      The brick skirting is decorative and not structural (unless the porch is poured concrete, which it’s not). It’s an easy job, and would be fairly inexpensive for a mason to do – the materials cost for the cedar lattice would probably to the same as a proper repair to the brick done by a mason. Porches are one of the easiest things to mothball for a later date (usually 2×4’s get it done) this one is low to the ground which makes it even easier. Just take tons of pictures before dismantling anything like the brick, and keep all the woodwork – epoxy is a wonderful thing when it comes to spindles and columns, and will save tons of money. If anyone here is currently pursuing the house they should try to see it today or tomorrow – with all the rain it’s a great time to look for current leaks and wet basements. This house just needs to find the right borderline bohemian, fix a few rooms then embrace the chaos! (was that inspiring enough?)

  41. AvatarKevin ONeill says: 126 comments

    Without seeing the house in person its hard to estimate but I’ve been doing this for years and I’m not signing up with these high six figure estimates but yes you absolutely could spend that kind of money.You could spend 150k on the kitchen alone but why? Looking at the exterior photos the roof looks fairly new with correct flashing on the chimney etc, this also tells me the inside has probably stayed dry. It looks like the interior pics are views of this so called “demo” not water damage or anything of the sort. Was the heat kept on? HVAC, electrics, and plumbing of course are big. The exterior porch needs repair including shoring, stabilizing and rebuilding, the wood elements of this home have suffered and obviousely need replacement. I believe you could buy this home for 100k and wrap a rehab loan for 250k and be well on your way for a grand total of 350k.
    Porch 40k
    Kitchen 20k
    Bath 3@10k 30k
    Plaster-Sheetrock 25k
    Electric (budget) 30k
    Plumbing 35k
    Floors 20k
    Heating plant 15k
    Ext trim 25k (high estimate)
    misc fees dumpsters 10k
    Total 250k

    Cmon people step up someone buy this place ……Kevin O’Neill “Circa 1900 Llc” “Is Vetus Domus”

  42. AvatarMark says: 162 comments

    In addition to the needed repairs, is it possible that the style of the home looks “cold” to most people. As I said at the top of the discussion, this is in fact a rather plain looking mansion. Most people probably can’t see past the problems.

    I’d also suggest even the estimates provided by Kevin are still quite high such that you could do all the work he outlined for far less than estimated.

    • AvatarKevin ONeill says: 126 comments

      Again without being there these estimates have room to go either way, yes the plaster, sheetrock is high, floors might come in 5k cheaper with no patching, but the heating plant could go to high 20s with asbestos if its present. I’m only making a point that the 500-800k figures are ridiculous and I find architects guilty of inflated estimates. I’m just trying to boost Courtneys enthusiasm and determination to get into this house and not be scared off by all the “experts”

  43. AvatarRyan says: 569 comments

    Wow, I’m glad I came back to this house because I had no idea all these comments had been added. I sure hope the place isn’t razed. The reason I did come here today, though, is that I was giving directions to a stranger today…we got talking, and he mentioned that he was from Beaver Falls, PA. So I asked him if he knew anything about Beaver, PA. He said he grew up there and still visits family there regularly. Anyway, I grilled him about the town, and it sounds like a really nice place to live. My new friend (who I’ll never see again) says the town has plenty of businesses, everything is clean and well kept, the people are generally very friendly, there’s very little crime, and it’s close enough to other larger places that you don’t feel isolated there. It was a ringing endorsement, really, which makes the fact that this particular house is so imperiled even sadder. I guess all I can do is say a prayer, though:(

  44. AvatarKimjolittle@hotmail.com says: 1 comments

    My husband and I looked at this house and offered 170k about 2005,if memory is correct. This was before a water pipe broke and ruined beautiful hardwood flooring. I fell in lovewith the stained glass windows,stone fireplaces and mantels. This house has such character. Unfortunately it will probably be destroyed due to greed on the owners part. A recent offer of 50k with restoration was declined. I don’t know what Patrick M. Is looking for. Heh as enough money to restore it himself and began to do so. I guess he is on to other things and this poor beautiful home will suffer for it.

  45. Avatardreya924 says: 10 comments

    Anyone know the latest on this house?

  46. Avatarnanl2002 says: 21 comments

    I contacted the realtor after seeing your post because I was also wondering what the latest news on this house was. She just responded and reported that the house has just been put under contract. YAY!!! Was hoping someone would jump in and save this house from demolition and apparently, they have. Hope it goes well. This house is really incredible!

    • Kelly, Old House DreamsKelly, Old House Dreams says: 10061 comments
      Admin

      1901 Folk Victorian
      Chestatee, GA

      Put under contract by someone going to save it or some other purpose? It’s awesome if they intend saving it. Thanks for the update!

  47. Avatarnanl2002 says: 21 comments

    The realtor did not specify but I do think I will reply to her msg and ask. I am just trying to think positive. This house is simply incredible and deserves to be returned to her former glory.

  48. Avatarnanl2002 says: 21 comments

    Just heard back from realtor again. I asked her if the house was going to be restored? She says the people buying are restoring. GREAT NEWS!!!!

  49. AvatarGloria says: 9 comments

    Yes….but there is still time for back up offers! I’ve heard there is one offer to renovate and two back up offers to demolish. It would be nice to have one more back up offer to renovate!

  50. AvatarMichelle says: 8 comments

    For those following the status on the house, Beaver council voted Tuesday to grant the demolition permit. The article can be found in today’s edition of The Beaver County Times (Timesonline.com):
    http://www.timesonline.com/news/local_news/demolition-permit-granted-for-beaver-house/article_579f990f-1b31-5637-bdba-4112ddafb59f.html

    I am presenting this because, my husband and I knew the appraised value of the house and offered $50,000.00 ($10,000.00 above the appraised value) on the house four months ago, with full intention of rehabbing the house (our offer was with $20,000.00 cash down). We don’t have any involvement in the house currently. Our offer was declined by ******* via his Real Estate representative within hours of receiving it.

    While the article states Elaine Savoldi disagrees with the $40,000.00 appraisal, it is consistent with the appraisals my husband and I saw and what we based our offer on.

    Several years ago, my sister and her husband also made an offer on this house. Mind you, that was before the house sat vacant for 9 years, before the upper floor pipes broke and destroyed granite, before the second level floors bowed and warped, and before it was full of mold from sitting with water damage. Their offer was also declined, even though it was well over what Mr. *** had paid for the house.

    Human greed is a funny thing.

    -Michelle

    (Edited by Admin)

    1
    • Kelly, Old House DreamsKelly, Old House Dreams says: 10061 comments
      Admin

      1901 Folk Victorian
      Chestatee, GA

      Well, I have some not-so-nice things to say but I’m going to hold my tongue. Greed is disgusting and the loss of this home is just another one that could have been prevented if people cared about history or preserving any sense of it.

      I do hope someone will be allowed to go in and strip the place down as far as it will go before it is demolished. Thanks for the update Michelle.

  51. AvatarMark says: 162 comments

    SInce when does this site call out an owner by name for not doing what you or other readers want him to do? That’s really inappropriate.

    In the end it’s his property. Why should he sell it to people offering many times less than he paid for it? How is that greedy? I also agree that the $40,000 appraisal is unreasonable, as is offering anything near that.

    Yes there is a lack of historical appreciation and a lack of judgement in wanting to spend more to build a new house than this would cost to restore. It will be a great loss to the historic character of the community. There are a lot of tire kickers who didn’t come forward with an offer the owner couldn’t refuse despite the many years of being for sale, historic review board intervention, and national recognition.

    • Kelly, Old House DreamsKelly, Old House Dreams says: 10061 comments
      Admin

      1901 Folk Victorian
      Chestatee, GA

      “SInce when does this site call out an owner by name for not doing what you or other readers want him to do? That’s really inappropriate.”

      I’m not really sure what you are talking about? I called the current owner greedy, not sure why that’s inappropriate since that is what it is. I edited out his name since this might offend someone.

  52. AvatarMark says: 162 comments

    I don’t see where the greed is? I didn’t see any indication anyone has offered what the owner paid and was able to obtain financing or otherwise didn’t have numerous strings attached to the offer that weren’t unreasonable.

    Why not then throw the word greed right back at the previous poster who offered $50K for a house that the owner paid much more(was it $137K?) in 2004. It was listed for $209,000 in 2008, which the newspaper article seemed to suggest was a bargain, yet their offended that their offer of $50K in 2012 was promptly turned down. He’s greedy and they deserve it at $50K because they somehow like old houses better. That doesn’t makes sense. Then his name is posted in some attempt to shame him, even though nobody here likely actually knows the person and he isn’t here to defend any of his decisions.

    The offer of $50k probably wouldn’t cover the cost of the lot and the architectural salvage alone but he’s greedy for saying no thank you.

  53. Kelly, Old House DreamsKelly, Old House Dreams says: 10061 comments
    Admin

    1901 Folk Victorian
    Chestatee, GA

    If anyone has any details on when or if this will be demolished, sold or the status changes, please contact me so that I can update the status.

  54. Kelly, Old House DreamsKelly, Old House Dreams says: 10061 comments
    Admin

    1901 Folk Victorian
    Chestatee, GA

    Demolished. Updated post with a link to the article about saving the turret and You Tube video of it on a truck.

    Comments turned back on.

    • JimJim says: 4105 comments

      Very sad. The roof of the turret is not really unique and is easily replacable. Saving it is symbolic at best. Better that they salvaged stained glass and hardware, but little consolation for a great loss and one the community will lament.

      • AvatarAudrey says: 109 comments

        I just don’t understand why no one stepped in to save it? I understand it has water damage and significant neglect, but it seems like there was still so much there. I have followed this house and read every comment on here, and it just seems odd that so many are so passionate about this house, yet it still didn’t make it.

  55. AvatarAnn says: 9 comments

    Perhaps it is easier to understand if you consider the price of purchase and renovation combined was around $475,000 to $500,000…..and the Pittsburgh appraiser valued the 6000 sq ft property (without the basement included) at $350,000 fully restored! He assigned a value to the lot of $40,000 even though a nearby lot sold (following a house fire) for $100,000 and it was closed/documented. He refused to amend his appraisal. So….lots of people were/are passionate…but few have half-million dollars sitting around or want to own a 6000 sq. ft. property for their primary residence. The potential buyer tried a local savings and loan and Wells Fargo without success. The HARB reviewed the application for demolition twice and voted NO both times. The second time, they asked Council to consider allowing the owner to reassume the multi-unit use, or a condo or bed and breakfast or other commercial use, to help the owner sell it rather than demolish it, but the COA was granted for demolition with only two Council members voting NO. When the people “at the top” do not value preservation of the largest residence in the community, unfortunate things happen. While the Heritage Foundation is making the most of a really bad situation by saving all they can, I agree with the person who said it’s a great loss and one the community will lament. Too many towns tear down old properties, build new, and never realize what’s lost until suddenly the scale tips and instead of “somewhere special” the place looks just like everywhere else.
    Demolition will officially start at 7AM on Wednesday, October 24, 2012. I am sure that by dark tomorrow there will be an ordinary vacant lot where this beautiful Queen Anne once proudly stood. But….ahhhh….the owner who had the money for her upkeep, but let her sit for years and decay, will walk away with money in his pocket and claim a loss on his tax return. And, the neighbors will wait to see what will replace her……2013 new construction?

    • AvatarAudrey says: 109 comments

      That does help me understand a bit… if the appraisal doesn’t come in high enough, the bank won’t lend out enough money for the renovations. But would they not have lent out up to the 350k appraisal? Could someone not have gotten the house, done the most important things, and then had it reevaluated down the line?
      My main point is that I am surprised that this house wasn’t someones ‘hill to die on’ so to speak. That no one had so much passion for it that no matter the cost, they were going to try to give the house another hail mary. I wish it could have been me, but PA is a far cry for Texas…
      Anyway, I agree with you wholeheartedly, an irreplaceable loss for the town, and really, for everyone who was touched by this sad situation.

  56. AvatarKara says: 27 comments

    Oh no! I was just looking at this one again the other day, hoping that it was getting fixed up.

  57. AvatarMichelle says: 8 comments

    Mark,

    First of all, Kelly did nothing wrong in allowing my post as well as the reiteration of the owner’s name. I commend her on what she does with this site on a voluntary basis and see no reason for her to have to censor what was already made public.

    I’ll take the heat for calling “Mr. Blank” out though and respond, not only to “calling him out” but also for mentioning “greed,” not that any of it matters as demolition of the house started yesterday and the house is estimated to be completely down by 8:00 PM (est) tomorrow night.

    My post was an update to the status of the house, with a link that clearly identified the owner. With that, I did not see a need to hide Mr. Blank’s name within the rest of my commentary. Anyone who clicked the link to read the story would have seen his name. He was already called out by the journalists of Beaver County Times, Inc. Did they have a right to call him out? Absolutely. Mr. Blank became known years ago when he allowed the property to fall in disrepair. His name and ownership of that property became a matter of public record in numerous Beaver County Council meeting minutes (also available online and a matter of public record –nuisance complaints regarding the property). Need I mention the fact that the Beaver County Tax Assessor Records are also online in a search-able database? No one needed a secret decoder ring to figure out who the owner is/was.

    This isn’t a case of someone sneaking around, finding out an owner’s name, and then calling him out on a public forum to crucify him. It was a reiteration of information already available to the viewing public and you know full well that anyone who has access to this site also has access to the media link that clearly identified him. But your post begs to ask, why did you take it so personally? After all, I also named another person listed in the article, but yet, no defensive post regarding her. Interesting.

    As for the “human greed is a funny thing” remark I made, “greed” is subject to interpretation and a matter of opinion. My opinion is that, when it came to this piece of property, Mr. Blank was greedy and I have a right to that opinion, just as you have a right to disagree with it.

    But I will defend your “backatcha greed” comment on our offer. You can disagree with the appraisal all you want, but the $40,000.00 appraisal was in line with 3 other appraisals that I saw. Could 4 appraisers be wrong? We offered $10,000.00 over the appraised value of the property. That’s life. The minute you drive a car off the dealer lot, it’s worth less (worth less, not to be confused with worthless). The years you leave a house sit vacant, not maintain it, and allow pipes to break, allow mold to form, all the floors to rot, allow the foundation to crack, walls to peel, granite to split…it’s worth less. How is offering $10,000 over the appraised value of something greedy? It isn’t. If anything, it was stupid on our part. But yes, he had every right to decline the offer and he did. It is, after all, his property.

    However, you have no idea how many “tire kickers” were out there and how many offers were made on the house through the years. Two other members of my family alone made offers on the house well over Mr. Blank’s purchase price – a $50,000 profit wasn’t enough , no, this man was going for a $70,000 profit. He was holding out for that listed “bargain price” of $209,000.00. Their offers were declined, and time passed and no one purchased it. Why is that? Could it be that the house was not worth $209,000.00? Bargain, according to a newspaper article? Really? You’d base the value of a piece of real estate on a reporter’s opinion? That’s as bad as basing the value of a piece of real estate on a realtor’s opinion (tell your mortgage provider a reporter and your realtor will provide the appraisals and see what happens).

    Anyway, I think you missed my entire point. My point was that there were simple middle-class people trying to save the house, but they simple could not compete with human greed.

    Argue with me about greed after you read today’s article and pay close attention to the portion that states, (the owner) “stood up foundation members at a Friday meeting” followed by the portion that reads, (the owner) “gave them three ‘very impossible’ options, which included buying the property, which was listed four months ago for $129,900; paying $5,000 to collect items; or taking what (name omitted) called ‘three little token items.’”

    If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s most likely…a duck!

    Michelle

    P.S. The rant about calling him out was actually comical. I had misspelled the owners name.

    • AvatarMark says: 162 comments

      Not sure what is comical? Ever heard of libel lawsuits?
      SImply mentioning the owners name is not a problem and I’ve never seen that done here before in the fashion that it was used. Notice that the names have been removed?

      I’d also have to say if they had full access to whatever they wanted, $5000 should be a bargain. Have you looked at the price of architectural salvage? How is that an impossible option?

      Middle class people could have bought the house. Big money new construction contractors could have bought the house. All they had to do was pay what the owner wanted at any point…..209K to whatever he last wanted.

      My tire kicker reference refers to the dreamers who think they could handle a project of this scope and would likely only kick the can down the road as far as the eventual demise of this house after they got in over their heads. It just wasn’t practical in any way to save this property or it would have been done after years of trying. It was a bad investment for the owner. Everyone else seems to have recognized it was a bad investment and weren’t willing to pick up the pieces after what he had spent for the property and wasn’t accepting anything less.

      • AvatarMichelle says: 8 comments

        I am a journalist (as well as a former Realtor), so yes, I have heard of libel lawsuits, defamation of character as well as slander. Mr. Blank is welcome to knock his socks off and give it a whirl if he feels I have made false statement and offended his man-ness in any way.

        Yes, I did notice the name was removed. But, I learned a long time ago, that someone will always be standing outside a library wanting one written word or another pulled from the shelves, so it didn’t suprise me. She’s sensitive to your needs and I applaud her for that, regardless if I agree or disagree with it. Perhaps you should have granted her that same respect and allowed her to moderate her site how she saw fit, instead of letting the mention of an owner’s name chafe your sensitive behind.

        -Michelle

  58. AvatarAudrey says: 109 comments

    Mark,
    You are entitled to your opinion, and you clearly have a vested interest in the owners reputation. The following, however, is not opinion, it is flat false:

    “It was a bad investment for the owner. Everyone else seems to have recognized it was a bad investment and weren’t willing to pick up the pieces after what he had spent for the property and wasn’t accepting anything less.”

    This house was not a ‘bad investment’. It was a sound house that the owner directly caused to deteriorat to the point that it was worth no where near what he paid for it. He left it vacant. For many years, no less. Anyone who knows anything about maintaining a house knows that a house left empty, especially a historic age home, will deteriorate. Then a pipe bursts, floods the house. As Michelle pointed out, the water damage is not noticed or taken care of and the house is filled with mold. Floors warp, irreplaceable woodwork is ruined. The house is now worth significantly less, and it is 100% the owners fault. Heck, my icemaker flooded my 10 year old kitchen with maybe an inch or two of water for oh like, an hour? Tops, and we cleaned it right up. And insurance covered almost 10k in damage. If the owner had proper insurance (like every responsible homeowner should), he likely collected much more than I did. If he did not, well, see the above comment where that is 100% his own fault.

    Simply stated, what this owner did is called ‘demolition by neglect.” This is where an owner knowingly and willfully lets a property deteriorate to the point where the only economically feasible solution is demolition. In areas with a ‘demolition by neglect’ ordinance, this can be penalized by huge daily fines, and demolition permits are not issued. In other words, bad behavior is not allowed nor rewarded. It is not deflamation of character or any of the other silly things you suggest, it is flat fact. We are a country where property records are a matter of public information, and people are held accountable for their actions. If not legally, then socially, and the owner should be prepared for the court of public opinion.

    It is a sad loss, and one that is shouldered by everyone who takes the time to post on this site. Michelle clearly has a lot of passion for this house. She clearly wished to restore it, and tried to do so in the only way that she could: by making an offer on the property in it’s current, horribly deteriorated, conditon. By tearing the house down, the owner only proved her point: that the home was not worth what he paid for it. Maybe if the actual owner had 1/100th of Michelle’s passion, instead of a vacant loss and a true treasure and piece of history lost, we would have a beautiful restored home.

    1
    • AvatarMichelle says: 8 comments

      The road is closed. The house is down.

      -Michelle

      • Kelly, Old House DreamsKelly, Old House Dreams says: 10061 comments
        Admin

        1901 Folk Victorian
        Chestatee, GA

        Thanks for the update Michelle, I appreciate it.

  59. Kelly, Old House DreamsKelly, Old House Dreams says: 10061 comments
    Admin

    1901 Folk Victorian
    Chestatee, GA

    Alright, back to discussing the house only, well at least the memory of the house.

  60. Kelly, Old House DreamsKelly, Old House Dreams says: 10061 comments
    Admin

    1901 Folk Victorian
    Chestatee, GA

    Updated with pics of it demolished.

  61. AvatarMichelle says: 8 comments

    Don’t those pictures just make you want to throw up a little?

    While I appreciate Audrey’s comments, – don’t give me that much credit , it’s not deserving. The person who really should have gotten the house, the one who truly would have done the house the most justice is my sister, Kim (her photos were submitted today). My “passion” for the house was non-existant compared to hers.

    I remember the day she saw the house and called me. She was absolutely beaming through the phone, squealing with excitement, reviewing every little detail of the house, it’s size, the beauty, the woodwork, the turret, the fireplaces, the granit, the staircase, every nook and cranny. She saw it for what it could be, not what it was. (of course, it was before the pipes broke, before the plumbing was gone, before the knob and tube wiring was removed, etc. etc). But, it was by no means perfect when she saw it …. And, they tried with an offer based on what she saw, not what was, and even that wasn’t enough.

    Today, that’s the true loss. She would have least one floor rehabbed by now, but more importantly, the house would still be standing. But, it didn’t work out that way and this is what’s left – a beautiful vision turned into rubble on 199 Beaver Street, Beaver, PA.

    -Michelle

    • AvatarAudrey says: 109 comments

      I am sorry to hear that. I remember her comment as well. I do think you are due some credit though. You made an offer where few else did, and you tried to save it, even after all it had ‘been subjected to’ at the hands of an absentee and uncaring owner. This is more than most people can say. I am sorry you failed, and even more sorry that she failed back in 2007. Since she had the passion, the photos she took are even more heart wrenching. Kim, my heart goes out to you. I know you probably feel like you lost a friend. I kinda do and I have never even set foot within 200 miles of the house. Something about the house just spoke to me, and apparently to so many of us.

  62. JimJim says: 4105 comments

    My question on this whole affair is why did the guy buy the house to begin with? Often properties that are left to decay are bought for nothing (tax sales and such) or sometimes inherited, so the owner has no investment to protect by maintaining the property. I can’t imagine this guy buying this for over $100K without some intention of doing something with it, before realizing it wasn’t in his interest to spend more money. Or maybe he just thought he was getting such a bargain to begin with he could flip it for profit. I’m hesitant to condemn him as greedy without knowing the whole story. Perhaps he was just foolish and got caught in a no-win situation. It does seem as though he had an opportunity to get out intact and have the house saved, but do we really know that for sure?

    • AvatarMichelle says: 8 comments

      Jim,
      Honestly, no one can answer your question, nor should they. It is one thing to regurgitate public information, include your own involvement, and form an opinion on it. It’s an entirely different beast to spew his personal business on a public forum (spewing my own is my business).

      There have been a couple posts regarding this house that conatined personal information that I wanted to comment on, but it was still his personal business and shouldn’t have been stated at all, let alone commented on and pointed out as an innaccuracy.

      Did he have an opportunity to get out? In my opinion, yes, he did and he passed it by. He was offered well above his purchase price, well above the appraised value, and he declined – look at averages, during a buyer’s market (which is the market he would have been dealing with in 2007/2008), the average starting offer is 20% below list price and prospective buyer’s work their way up in negotiations with the seller. With a list price of $209,900.00, the starting offer my sister made was above that average, just slightly below 10% of the list price. The offer was $81,000 above the appraised value at that time. But, the number that really counts, their offer was $47,233.00 above what the owner paid for it (tax records read $137,777, 3-02-2004, 2004 being a seller’s market). There was no “counter offer” made. It was a flat out “no.”

      Do we know that happened for sure? The only way it could not be true is if his realtor never presented the offers that were made (within my family) and simply called back and said, “”he won’t take that” (in our case, it was a text – lol). If you were a realtor, would you turn down an $11,100 commission on that house (based on the normal 6% commission), not to mention, risk loosing your license over not presenting an offer to the seller? I have no reason to believe the offers weren’t presented to the seller and every reason to believe they were and that they just weren’t what he wanted. It was his house, it was his choice. And, in this country, it was his right.

      I hope no one takes me wrong. I am not trying to turn the owner into Historic House Public Enemy #1 by any means. I won’t speak for my sister, but I posted our offer because I was disgusted with the media reporting “only one prospective buyer came forward” and made an offer on the house after the “stay of execution” was granted to try to find a buyer before reconsideration was given to the demolition permit, and I have been consistantly vocal about that. What the media reported was false. Another offer existed, and that was lousy media coverage, by a journalist who just didn’t dig around as he should have.

      -Michelle

  63. AvatarAudrey says: 109 comments

    Just because I obsessively read all of the comments, I feel I have your answer from the ‘facts’ presented on here. Owner bought in 2004 for $137k. The owner never occupied the home and it has been vacant save a short stint where a couple lived there in exchange for working to demo the previous apartments. Tried to sell as soon as 2007 for $209k (with little to no work done). Offer made for $170k in 2007 was turned down (and who knows what other offers). After 2008, pipes burst causing significant damage and mold. Recently, a $50k offer was also rejected.

    It would appear the owner bought it to ‘make a buck’ and even once it was apparent that he would not make as much as he had hoped, he refused to give up the idea that he would get a bigger and better offer. I agree with Michelle, it appears this is a duck!

  64. AvatarAnn says: 9 comments

    Pretty close to correct….owner said he purchased for a large family in need of a home and he was trying to be a “good guy”. However, they never moved in. When he first offered it for sale, the price was in the mid to high 200’s and/or $450 renovated. The house sold out of the estate from the attorney without so much as a tiny sign or ad in the local newspaper. Several people capable of restoring it tried to buy it then and were told it was already sold. What the deal was between the current owner and the attorney was no one seems to know. Only this year did he finally come down to reasonable price and that was for someone to demolish. He listed it, but refused to put sign in the yard. In my opinion, he didn’t care.

    • AvatarAudrey says: 109 comments

      Refused to put a sign in the yard? Oh he!! no! If I was a neighbor I’d put a sign in my yard with an arrow and and all the listing info. I’d have said “please buy and restore me and maintain the quality of this neighborhood! You will have a beautiful house with great neighbors!” 🙂
      But I am ‘spunky’ lol

  65. AvatarAudrey says: 109 comments

    Does anyone, namely Michelle or her family, or Ann, know if there are any additional interior pictures taken of the house that are available online? I’d love to see more.

    • AvatarMichelle says: 8 comments

      The only photos I’ve ever seen of the interior were the ones featured/shown by the Post Gazette in 2008. There is an old, old, book featuring historic homes in Beaver County but I have no idea if the the Cunningham house is in it, nor did I see any online in the Beaver County Historical Society pages. In my opinion, any photos taken beyond 2009 would simply be heratbreaking, mere fragments, of what she (or anyone else) saw in 2007. But I do hope they surface so people can see what actually happened to that house.

      Kim was at the house the day the turret was removed and said she regretted not taking pictures of the inside that day. She spent some time there touring people through the house, showing them where different things “had been.” From what she said, much of the character was allready gone. The three photos she took have been posted.

      Apparently, those overseeing the demolition of the house were very cordial and sensitive to the needs of area residents who wanted to say their good-byes to the house and allowed people to go inside, view, and photo the house. Quite a few people were there taking pictures, so they’ll surface sooner or later – human nature, someone will be trying to make a buck off of photos of it.

      -Michelle

  66. AvatarKevin O'Neill says: 126 comments

    After being a police officer for twenty years and a detective for five of those years I am always fascinated by what motivates people to do things and the mechanics of a crime or crime scene, the “who,what,why” if you will. Without getting to analytical, this to me is an classic example of “cutting off your nose to spite your face” In the earlier posts if memory serves me, and correct me if I’m wrong, I thought this owner had tried to reclassify the house to multiple units and was turned down. This may of been the start of the downfall. It appears by reading the posts he may of never had any intention of selling. Putting on my detective hat the person who would have the most information as to the sellers “psyche” would be his Realtor. There is something here that doesn’t pass the smell test obviousely. It appears he may of wanted to “make a statement” and he certainly did. I would like to know what the lot is worth, and then ad demo costs to the house and I’m certain that was in the 20k range. None of the numbers make sense as to taking the house down and selling the lot, as opposed to the last offers that came in. Maybe someday we will get it right from the horses mouth.

    • AvatarMichelle says: 8 comments

      The discussion by council on the owner wanting to continue multi-use occurred on 9-14-2010 (6.5 years after it was purchased): http://www.beaverpa.us/government/minutes/09_14_10_minutes.pdf

      (Opinion) The lot and appraisal will probably be debated for some time. Some realtors seem to think they’re also appraisers. While there may have been one lot that sold for $100k, there was also another that sold for $25k. If you’re going to bicker about an appraisal, you’re not going to mention the $25k lot, but the appraiser is certainly going to take it into consideration (end opinion).

      For a property search: http://www.beavercountypa.gov/property_search

      -Michelle

  67. Avatardawn says: 1 comments

    It is almost a sin that the house was demolished!!!! As far as salvage places go, does anyone know where there is a construction salvage place that would have mantle places and such?

  68. dragonflyspirit14dragonflyspirit14 says: 263 comments

    such a pity ~ hope they at least gutted it first.

    1
  69. AvatarAlicia Hamilton says: 6 comments

    That is almost depressing they demolished, that house, wish I had alot of money, to buy up all the old houses, like this and restore them

  70. Avatarejdesigns says: 58 comments

    That this was demolished makes me want to cry.

    1
  71. Kelly, OHD adminKelly, OHD admin says: 10061 comments
    Admin

    1901 Folk Victorian
    Chestatee, GA

    Want to see what was built?

    • Avatargerry s says: 28 comments

      Sad story ending with a mc mansion lacking a chimney and with only a brick façade!! Someone loved it’s newness and bought it without a clue to what once stood there.

      1
    • AvatarCrimson_Roo says: 123 comments

      There’s a special place in…you know…reserved for people who do things like this. I say this with all due respect of course. [sigh] I’m reminded vividly of Rhett Butler’s comment on waste while I fight tears looking at this….

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