Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cement City Home Has a Solid Place in History

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cement City Home Has a Solid Place in History

Article excerpt

In 1971, Michael and Marsha Beresh were a young couple looking for a starter home in Donora. A real estate agent suggested they look at 146 Bertha Ave. in a neighborhood called Cement City. They knew the houses there were made of concrete but that wasn't the main attraction.

"We were looking for a home and they were selling. The houses were just so well-constructed. It drew us there," he said.

They paid just $13,500 for a two-story house. Now looking for a one-level, the Bereshes have put it on the market for $45,000 (MLS No. 1214208) with Denise Bruno of Coldwell Banker ( or 412-655-0400). An open house will be held at 1-4 p.m. April 24 during the Cement City Walking Tour. Refreshments will be served.

Inventor Thomas Edison came up with the idea of building homes with Portland cement and aggregate poured into reusable cast-iron molds. Lambie Concrete House Corp. built 80 homes in Donora in 1916- 17 for workers of American Steel & Wire Co. All featured the same Prairie style with hip roofs and large front porches.

The sidewalk community with paved streets was a far cry from most worker housing available at the time. Finished in stucco, the homes' colorful exteriors developed through the years.

"Everyone paints their house a different color so you could find it when you went home," Mr. Beresh said.

He has fond memories of the early days. "At that time, we were among the younger people that moved into Cement City. There were a lot of retired workers there."

Mr. Beresh installed Z-brick in the 12-by-19 foot living room and paneling in some rooms. He noted that everything had to be attached to the walls with adhesive. The original wood railing is still in place.

"The walls are 10 inches thick and that maintains the heat in the winter and the central air [conditioning] keeps it cool in the summer," he said.

The 11- by-12-foot dining room leads to the 12- by 8-foot kitchen, which was updated in 2003. …

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