Observatory Hill


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Summer 2017 Newsletter
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3708 Perrysville Avenue

3708 Perrysville Avenue

A West Virginia oil tycoon named Frederic Bannerot built this large house in 1905 for his son Frederic and Frederic's wife, Margaret. They lived here only briefly before they moved to Squirrel Hill. Over the years, the house changed hands many times—and, thanks to thieves, vandals, and neglect, it had become uninhabitable by the 1990s. Nineteen stained glass windows disappeared, and a large hole in an upstairs bedroom let the sun shine in. John purchased the condemned property through a sheriff's sale in 1999 and worked for 18 months to get the house back to its original grandeur.

In the sitting room, take a look at the handpainted tile signed by Margaret Bannerot. The "B" in Bannerot is reflected in the carving on the newel post in the front hall. And make sure to check out the photos of the house being built: Can you spot Frederic?

The only lighting fixtures remaining from Frederic’s day are the hanging lights and wall lights in the front living room and one fixture on the second floor, but the house does retain many original woods: You'll find oak, birdseye maple, mahogany, walnut, and cherry in every room on the first and second floors. Somehow, the woodwork remained unpainted throughout the years. Brass, copper, and glass hardware are evident throughout the home as well. The six fireplaces must have been in full use to keep this large house warm in the winter.

The home still boasts its original terra cotta roof, and the vestibule floor is made of fallen roof tiles. The back porch had to be removed, but four years of work (including two weeks of stripping paint, even from the beadboard ceiling) saved the front porch. New plumbing, a revamped heating system, and a zoned air conditioning system upstairs make the house very comfortable. There's no need for air conditioning on the first floor—the multitude of windows, two large shade trees, and constant breeze on Observatory Hill keep it perfect all summer long.