You don’t have to go to France to live in this Norman-style house
James Stevenson wasn’t even house hunting when he was alerted to the perfect home for him.
“Some of my friends called me and said, ‘You have to see this house,'” he recalls.
Built in 1929, the house at 102 Bevington Road in Forest Hills was designed by architect R. Carey Dickson; its classic French Norman style had a fairy-tale quality that immediately appealed to Stevenson.
“I lived in Forest Hills in a similar period house built in 1930. I didn’t even know about this house,” he says. “I ended up signing the deal that night in the dining room of the house.”
That was in 2006. Since then, Stevenson, like many homeowners who live in distinctive or historic homes, considers himself a keeper of the building’s history.
“I thought it was time to pass the torch,” he says. “I just reached a milestone birthday, so I’m moving to a low-maintenance house.”
Listed for $479,900 (MLS # 1537869, Austin Kyle Rusert Group, Coldwell Banker Real Estate, coldwellbanker.com), it was agreed upon after more than 20 screenings in two days.
It’s easy to see what caused all the fuss. The house is enchanting down to the classic round stone tower entrance with its cone-shaped slate roof. This is one of the house’s most defining features and one that separates it from the classic Tudor-style house with which it is often confused.
“This style became popular after World War I after American soldiers returned from France,” says Stevenson. “This house was built just before the accident.”
Sitting on a third of an acre, the home’s landscape includes a limestone patio, covered patio, and lily pond. A cutting garden faces Castlegate Road, and there are several flower beds planted with perennials and other ornamental plants.
“I added a lot of lilies over time. There’s a little fountain in the middle,” Stevenson says of the pond.
The three bedroom home has two full bathrooms and two half bathrooms. The entrance has the original slate floor and the staircase, which has cut stringers in a decorative wavy pattern. A quirky iron balustrade adds more panache, with a treble clef and bass clef in the design.
To the left, a dramatic great room features a floor-to-ceiling bay window flanked by a pair of arched niches with built-in cabinetry. The tongue-in-groove oak ceiling with beams and arches is breathtaking.
According to the book “Small Manors and Farms in France”, the design is taken from the French region of Normandy, where barns were usually attached to living quarters.
A decorative balcony is accessible from the second floor and offers a unique view of the room below. Anchoring the great room is a limestone fireplace with a gas insert; it’s one of three in the house. Arched doors to the patio and multi-paned windows let in lots of light.
“The limestone wasn’t mined here at that time, so the hearths were probably from Europe,” Stevenson notes.
Opposite the entry, the dining room is painted a fun chartreuse color, a perfect complement to the French bones of the house. A built-in pantry is recessed into a niche, and there’s an iron chandelier that Stevenson says is original to the home.
In the kitchen, Stevenson installed a range of custom Lacanche ovens shipped from Burgundy, France. The company has been manufacturing ranges since the 18and century, according to Stevenson.
The kitchen also includes oak cabinets, stainless steel appliances and a beautiful island with turned legs. In the powder room, neoclassical wallpaper with griffins and urns is accented by deep mustard paint under the picture rail.
The master bedroom on the second level has an en-suite bathroom. The other two bedrooms are serviced by a bathroom across the hall that features vibrant blue paint and encaustic wall tiles. The decor is put together through a custom made silk striped fabric shower curtain and valance.
A bedroom on the third floor has been completed and a previous owner has also installed a powder room. It’s a nice finish to the over 3,200 square feet of living space.
Although he made many fond memories at home, Stevenson says his dearest are his mother, who adored the house.
“We held my mother’s 80th and 90th birthday parties there,” he says. “She has since passed away, but loved to sit on the patio in the summer and admire the unique brick and slate work.”
Hot Property, an inside look at unique and historic homes on the market. Each week, Hot Property goes behind the For Sale sign to share the story of a special Pittsburgh-area home. And four times a year, Hot Property provides an in-depth look at the area’s real estate market in Pittsburgh Magazine HOME, tracking home prices and sales and detailing where hot properties are located. Rosa Colucci can be reached at [email protected].
On: Wooded hills (foresthillspa.org)
Planes, trains and automobiles: 30 minutes from the airport. Daily transportation via Port Authority Bus. Carpooling available. Street parking.
Schools: Woodland Hills School District (whsd.net)
Piece: Established in 1919, Forest Hills is known as Tree City. The first settlers date back to 1758 thanks to land grants. Residential construction grew steadily in the early 1900s when gas, electric, and telephone services were firmly established, fueled by the growth of local businesses such as Westinghouse.