ABOVE: Here I am in 1972, standing in the entry courtyard at our Pittsburgh home. There was a fireplace in my bedroom and French doors that opened to a wrought-iron Juliet balcony. I loved everything about this classic house–even the bats in the third-story attic.
THE HOME THAT SET THE STANDARD FOR MY DESIGN TASTE
(Originally published November 2, 2015; updated September 22, 2018) After my father’s corporation transferred him to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in August 1970, we lived first in a hotel and then in a rental home until my parents could find a house they wanted. Growing frustrated with what she was being shown, my mother resorted to putting my father’s business cards in the mailboxes of houses of which she liked the look. On the back of each card was a hand-scribbled note from my mother, enquiring whether the owner wished to sell.
One of those cards caught the attention of Milton Hume, the gentleman who owned this 1928 tudor home, designed by Brandon Smith. In his time, Smith had been a renowned architect both in Pittsburgh and in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada, where he designed cottages and boathouses for Pittsburgh families who summered there.
Our family lived here from 1971 until 1976, at which time we moved into a new house down the hill from this one, which my parents had built.
Even now I am awed by this house and its understated elegance–and remember it so vividly. I am blessed to have been able to experience it, some 40 years ago.
~Janis Lyn Johnson
(The below photographs were all taken in the early to mid-1970s.)
(ABOVE) The detached, three-bay garage had a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment above it, which included a living room, dining area, and full-size kitchen. (BELOW) Entrance to the cobblestone courtyard (the garage, not shown, is to the right).
(ABOVE) The three-car garage and stairs leading to its second-floor apartment.
(ABOVE) My father’s corvette in front of our house. (BELOW) My father, with his prized car. It must have been Christmastime when these photographs were taken (note the red bow on the stone urn and the red lantern with bow in the bottom left corner of the photograph).
(ABOVE AND BELOW) The front garden in spring/summer. My bedroom featured the French doors and Juliet balcony seen here on the second floor.
(ABOVE) One of the side gardens and the wrought-iron sun porch that my mother enclosed with glass so it could be used year-round.
(ABOVE) Although it’s difficult to tell in this photograph, the dining room walls were painted a soft shade of yellow, and the molding and trim were white. The French country-style John Widdicomb Co. dining room table (with hand-carved apron and elegant cabriole legs), 12 John Widdicomb Louis XV-style dining chairs, brass fire screen, and painting seen here in the mid-1970s are in my own home today, nearly 50 years later.
(ABOVE AND BELOW) The living room. Note the gorgeous, detailed wood molding.
(ABOVE) The living room, which opened out to the sun porch overlooking a side garden. (BELOW) The formal staircase, as seen from the living room (the home had three staircases leading to the second floor).
(ABOVE) The wood-paneled library, which my father used as his office. (I love the leaded-glass windows.)
(ABOVE & BELOW) Roy Engelbrecht photograph of our former home (featured along with a story about the home and couple who bought it in 1998) in Pittsburgh Quarterly, summer 2017.
(ABOVE) Roy Engelbrecht photograph of the detached garage, featured in Pittsburgh Quarterly, summer 2017.
(ABOVE & BELOW) Roy Engelbrecht exterior and interior photographs of the sunroom off the living room, overlooking a side garden, featured in Pittsburgh Quarterly, summer 2017.
(ABOVE) Roy Engelbrecht photograph of what was once our kitchen garden, featured in Pittsburgh Quarterly, summer 2017.
(ABOVE) Roy Engelbrecht photographs of the living room and (BELOW) dining room, featured in Pittsburgh Quarterly, summer 2017.
(ABOVE) Roy Engelbrecht photograph of the library, featured in Pittsburgh Quarterly, summer 2017.
*For more lovely photographs of the home, and the accompanying article, visit Pittsburgh Quarterly.