a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Friday, November 13, 2009

A lost gem of a house in watercolor

By Scott Beveridge

ROSTRAVER, Pa. – Architecture nerds like me had grown to love this old redbrick house that loomed large above a sharp bend in the road approaching a county park in Pittsburgh’s hinterlands.

You couldn’t miss it while slowing to a crawl to negotiate the curve on a drive to Cedar Creek Park in Rostraver Township, Pa. Only a driver wearing blinders would have missed that opportunity.

Its red bricks were softened by age and neglect, but it seemed to still be in solid shape when someone came along and had it torn down nearly 10 years ago.

So I’m especially happy to have taken the time two decades ago to stop and snap a photo of the house, and later use that image to paint the watercolor of it, shown above.

Shortly before it was razed, I sneaked inside to take a closer look at the place at Lynn and Port Royal roads.

Its last occupants had left behind some of their useless belongings, including clothes that were spread in heaps about the rooms. Yet there was no evidence the roof leaked because most of the plaster was still attached to the interior walls. The house was nearly intact down to the original hand carved woodwork.

Even more interesting was a functioning trap door on the living room floor that opened to the basement. It made me pause to wonder if the passage was used to hide fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad from the people who were in their pursuit prior to the Civil War.

It’s a shame that someone didn’t come along more than a century later to save this house from demolition.


jhwygirl said...

I always wondered about the brick home - similiar, but larger to your watercolor - above California, at the junction of 88 and rt. 40, west of Brownsville. Large velvet drapes hung, closed, in the windows - a few of them shredding from age. But it, too, looked intact. There was always talk of it being part of the underground railroad also. Always wondered.

There's an italian deli down the road in the other direction that makes the best italian hoagies.

If it's all still there. Been years and years. Glad to have found your blog. Good memories. very visual.

Scott Beveridge said...

Thanks. I'll have to check out that house and grab a hoagie, too.