Wow! Get ready for a photo tour of another positively stunning house!
I am re-writing and re-posting this entry, because I got to explore the inside of one of the Starr Houses: 1715 Denniston in Squirrel Hill. You might notice that my photos were taken in two different seasons. Also, a few of them were found on a realtor's website.
This truly was an act of exploration, because while I'd budgeted 30 minutes of my day to walk through the house, I accidentally lost track of an hour while roaming around inside. The incredible details and unique floor plan were conducive to exploring -- back stairs took me up to a half-floor with mini bedrooms, and more stairs led to a stunning master bedroom or sprawling attic. Even the basement was rich with rooms. Then, there were all the beautiful details to appreciate!
Let's start at the beginning.
The Starr Houses are twin homes tucked behind all the action of Forbes and Shady in Squirrel Hill, at 1715 and 1717 Denniston. They've been standing since 1927.
This pair, built for Albert Q. Starr and his family, ushers in a period of work that Martin Aurand describes as "up-to-date and familiar" because, he writes, it nods more to the "banal present" than the historical past. When I read that, I assumed that the houses must be somewhat straightforward or plain inside. I was wrong.
These beautiful homes, which suggest medieval castles, were commissioned to straddle a pre-existing driveway and common space.
|The Starr Houses|
1715 is currently for sale. (The asking price for the 5-bedroom, 3.5 bath home is $639,000.)
The realtor told me that Mr. Starr worked in the concrete business, so his solid homes were made out of concrete -- they're never going to creak! She also let me know that the home was formerly owned and inhabited by famed Pittsburgh boxer Billy Conn. (He died in 1993 and the home was sold in 1998.)
Let's go in!
|1715, which we're going to explore!|
|The garage was originally described as a "two-car garage." Those two cars would have to be Model T's!|
The first thrill in my visit to 1715 was discovering that the front door is curved. This heavy, solid door and the glass inside it are curved, which sets the tone for a house that just spills from one airy space to the next. The whole first floor is filled with circles, from a ring-shaped foyer with a slightly domed ceiling to a kitchen that seems to enfold you in a hug. The patio and driveway, too, are playfully devoid of straight lines.
|Unmistakable Scheibler window in the curved front door!|
|Stunning, round foyer|
This photo shows a built-in coat closet in the amazing round foyer. Its doors, too, are curved and hold stained glass.
|Stained glass light in the foyer. There's a similar one in the entrance to the Old Heidelberg.|
|Be still, my heart.|
|View from the living room into the foyer, with dining room yonder.|
When I walked in, I was immediately blown away by this -- a mosaic, log-burning fireplace that is flanked by two purple glass panels. Sunlight illuminates the panels with a gorgeous purple glow.
The realtor told me that one of the previous owners of the home completely --and inexplicably-- walled over the purple stained glass, the lanterns inside, and the incredible fireplace. A subsequent owner was working on the outside of the house when they discovered the stained glass and had it uncovered. That family had the mosaic fireplace reproduced. (Read more about this in the comments below!) The lanterns, she said, are Scheibler's original pieces, which were just covered over inside the walls.
|Purple: my favorite color!|
|Dining room opening into kitchen|
That's when I discovered a back stairway out of the kitchen! I know Scheibler intended for visitors to explore the house from the main, grand staircase, but this secret staircase beckoned.
The back (servant's?) staircase took me to a sub-floor between the first floor and master bedroom floor. It held two mini bedrooms, each with a crawlspace for storage, and it also held a black-and-white bathroom.
This bathroom reminded me of the black-and-white bathrooms in the Old Heidelberg, which makes me suspect that they look the way they do because of Frederick Scheibler, and not the landlords, Mozart Management! (More on this in the comments, too!)
|Apologies, but my friend Ken and I were having too much fun. Also, we matched the bathroom.|
|Bathroom window, which faces the twin house at 1717 Denniston.|
This is the set of mini-stairs that leads to the main second floor. There were built-in storage cubbies throughout the houses, like you can see in this stairway.
This level held a larger bedroom, the master bedroom, and another room, which I could see being a bedroom or a bright, welcoming den with a window seat. Newer shelves make me think it has functioned more recently as a library or media room. Check out the stained glass inside the doors!
|Second floor bedroom. Scheibler, ever progressive, offered his-and-hers closets in so many of his bedrooms!|
|Second floor bathroom|
Here we are in the master bedroom, which faces Denniston and has more cork floors.
|The thick windows definitely made me feel like I was in a medieval castle.|
|There were mirrors inside the closet doors. Apologies again.|
The master bedroom has its own immaculate bathroom, which looks to have been updated and redone with white and amazing iridescent green tile!
Back in the hallway, you can find stairs to the attic, which was also recently redone. It has a large and a small room. The stairs hide more discreet storage areas.
|View, from the smaller second bedroom, to the attic stairs|
|Smaller attic room|
Now let's take the main stairs back down. They're made of a beautiful slate.
Finally, we took the basement stairs to the back door and out to the patio, which I was delighed to see held stars... for the Starr family. (Nope! Wrong! Read more about this in the comments below!)
And last but not least, a berry patch!
I feel so lucky to have been able to explore this beautiful home. Well done, Frederick Scheibler! You're going to make another family very lucky, a century after you conceived this place.