Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Brighton

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Brighton

Article excerpt

Victorian homes, often referred to as "grand old ladies" with towers, turrets and rounded porches, were designed to impress, expressing a sense of exuberance on the part of the industrial age.

A glorious example of a Queen Anne Victorian at 1301 Third Ave., New Brighton, Beaver County, is on the market for $324,000 (MLS No. 991505).

The brick-and-stone, five-bedroom home with its own carriage house is listed with Michael Bassillios of Howard Hanna West Suburban Office, (www.howardhanna.com or 412-445-1352).

This is a Victorian inside and out thanks to its owners, Terri and Arnie Gradek, who furnished the home with distinctive period pieces and curiosities that reflect the essence of the era.

"I looked up and down the East Coast and couldn't find anything I liked or could afford," Mr. Gradek said.

He had retired from the Navy in 1990 and had always wanted a Victorian. One day his brother in Ambridge called saying he had the perfect one.

The Gradeks bought the house in 1990, started renovation and moved in three years later. It had been broken into three apartments by a previous owner and they wanted to restore it to the single- family home it had been when it was built in 1889.

"Lucky me. One day a guy came strutting across the lawn, stuck out his hand and said, ?My name is Ed Spratt and I used to own this place,'??" Mr. Gradek said.

Not only did Mr. Spratt know all about the house, he had plans and drawings of its former glory. Those drawings helped guide the Gradeks' work.

Today, the walls stretch high to the curves of the cove ceilings. Many of the rooms are enhanced by elegant wallpaper, bands of color and decorative trim.

Everywhere you turn is another vintage crystal chandelier sprouting from ceiling medallions that have been hand-painted by Mr. Gradek.

The entry itself is larger than most rooms in a new house. At 21 by 12 feet, it is a study in fine woodwork and beauty. Tall windows flood the hall with light and a small nook to one side of the door offers a place to drop a hat or umbrella.

The intricate work of the newel posts, spindles and balustrade of the main staircase showcases the fine craftsmanship of the time.

On the first landing, a stained-glass window has an arched top.

The 18- by 15-foot living and dining rooms are on either side of the entryway through tall pocket doors ? oak on one side and chestnut on the other.

The living room's fireplace commands attention with its rich wood, ceramic tiles and mirrored overmantel. The same oak trims the tall windows throughout the house and oak shutters add drama while keeping the hot sun out in summer and warmth in during winter. Behind a pair of pocket doors is the library or den, which measures 20 by 15 feet.

Built-ins flanking a large fireplace run down one side of the dining room with a bank of windows on the opposite wall. …

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