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Buying Here: Oakmont

A fine arts-and-craft home for a young family

Sunday, January 09, 2011
By Gretchen McKay, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

This home on California Avenue in Oakmont is on the market for $249,900. Bob Donaldson / Post-Gazette

Oakmont is probably best known for its luxurious country club, home to a famously difficult golf course that’s hosted more combined USGA and PGA championships than any other course in America. But its roots actually were planted in industry; early employers along the Allegheny River included Allegheny Valley Railroad, Woodings-Verona Tool Works and Agnew & Co., one of the most prolific glass companies in Pittsburgh at the turn of the 20th century.

Along with the elegant (and uber-expensive) homes that sprang up on Hulton Road about the same time as the club, the borough is blessed with a variety of more modest turn-of-the-century homes. Pretty as a picture is a 11/2-story Craftsman bungalow at 710 California Ave. (MLS No. 842126), constructed 11 years after Oakmont incorporated as a borough in 1889. It is being offered by Howard Hanna Real Estate’s Shadyside office for $249,900 (; 412-361-4000).

The Arts and Crafts Movement flourished in England in the mid 1800s. Yet the style — marked by architectural simplicity and natural materials — didn’t catch on in the U.S. until decades later, in the early 1900s. After the fussy opulence of the Victorian era, American homeowners welcomed uncomplicated designs that were easy to envision, build and maintain. Architect/furniture designer Gustav Stickley’s “The Craftsman” magazine, first published in 1901, proved so popular that the 200-plus house plans he designed for its pages eventually were published in two books.

Situated on a double corner lot within easy walking distance of the shops and restaurants on Allegheny River Boulevard, this house features the style’s characteristic low-pitched, gabled roof and covered front porch. Inside, the rooms are large, with minimal ornamentation, high ceilings and lots of windows. Some could some updating.

First-floor bedrooms might seem like a Baby Boomer invention, but they actually were fairly common in Craftsman bungalows. This 2,500-square-foot house has two on the main level, including a 13-by-13-foot master, plus two more upstairs. Something else that will appeal to modern sensibilities: There’s a full bath on both floors.

The 15-by-10-foot eat-in kitchen opens onto a 15-by-14-foot formal dining room. Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette

The updated, eat-in kitchen measures 15 by 10 feet and is brightened by white wood cabinets and white appliances. It opens onto a 15-by-14-foot formal dining room, which adjoins a 20-by-14-foot living room with built-in bookcases and a working fireplace. Hardwood floors run throughout the first floor; out back is a one-car detached garage.

The large yard and quiet, tree-lined street make it a perfect starter house for a young family, says listing agent Justin Cummings. With most of the living space on the first level, it also should appeal to older couples who are downsizing but still need bedrooms for grandchildren and other visitors.

The 20-by-14-foot living room features built-in bookcases and a working fireplace. Hardwood floors run throughout the first floor. Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette

The current owner paid $265,000 for the house in 2007. It has a 2010 full market value of $175,000


In the past three years, eight homes have changed hands on California Avenue, ranging in price from $167,500 in May 2007 to $285,000 in July 2008 (

There will be an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. today. For more information, contact Justin Cummings of Howard Hanna’s Shadyside office at 412-361-4000 or

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