Above: One of the ten house featured in Observatory Hill’s house tour. (Courtesy OHI).
Observatory Hill welcomed over 200 visitors on Sunday for a house tour that took participants through ten houses and two churches.
In addition to its views of the skyline and surrounding parks, Observatory Hill is the home of early 20th century architecture that, according to event planner Jane Sestric, is well-preserved by Observatory Hill homeowners and still in good shape.
“We have houses from the early 1900s to the 1940s, so these homes are not really that old. In addition, these homes were built to their terrain. Each house complements its surroundings,” said Sestric.
This year marked the first house tour in Observatory Hill since 2009.
“The homeowners just weren’t ready in years past. There just hasn’t been enough money to put into home restoration,” said Sestric.
The tour lasted about four hours and showcased some of the neighborhoods best homes that could be easily overlooked.
Bonnie Kwoleck offered her house on Garvin Street where the view from her and her husband’s living room reaches across the river valley to the South Hills neighborhood of Mount Lebanon.
Despite the view, what she is most proud of is the extensive work that they put into their home.
“The tour makes all of the hard work worthwhile,” said Kwoleck, “It makes you feel as if you are really taking care of something important.”
The price of the tour started $10 for pre-registration and $15 on the day of the event, but the profit goes back into the community. Observatory Hill Inc. made over $6,000 on this year’s house tour.
“The [funds] that we make from the tour goes into community projects and activities such as spaghetti dinners, children’s events and other activities that need funding,” said Sestric.
The fall festival held in Riverview Park was among the events mentioned that benefit from the tour. It is an event that “brings the community together and is mostly for the kids,” Sestric said.
Along with the fundraising aspect, according to home owner Joseph Skoski, the house tour allows members of the community to contribute to the development and awareness of a forgotten area of Pittsburgh.
Visitors to his and wife’s California bungalow on Orleans Street enjoyed iced tea and cookie bars during the tour in which he said was a huge success.
“By opening my home for the tour, I really feel like I am doing something positive for the neighborhood. It is about time I share our hard work with the community,” he said.