Virtual tours are now available for the railroad-themed residence located in Manchester.

By Ashlee Green

Photos courtesy of James Hoy

Northside resident and developer James Hoy, says that for years, he coveted the carriage houses he saw in Brooklyn Heights and wanted to look for one to design in Pittsburgh. 

He got his chance last year, when he found one in his own neighborhood of Manchester. He says he drove by it every day and felt that even though it was “a real eyesore,” it had potential. 

“It’s great to recognize something that so many people have dismissed,” he says, claiming that he asked 10 different people to be his partner on the project, but none of them were interested. 

Hoy says the Manchester carriage house was originally built in the 1870s, and had fallen into major disrepair: the building’s roof had caved in and there were two 30-foot trees growing out of the garage.

No stranger to renovation, Hoy bought the property and has since turned the place upside down. Much like his previous renovation projects, Hoy’s carriage house has a theme—railroads—and features repurposed materials. 

“We tore the walls down and cleaned every brick and replaced every brick,” he says. The bar, he says, is made from an original beam from the garage which was salvaged and restored and the bed frame is made from a railroad service cart with wheels on it.

Hoy, who goes by “Coach,” says he recruited young boxers he coaches from the Western Pennsylvania Police Athletic League (WPAL) to help with the carriage house project, pairing each one of them with a tradesman such as a plumber, electrician, and carpenter.

“It’s important to me that you’re not just teaching them sports, but you’re teaching them work habits that apply to work and the gym,” Hoy says. “Training the craft as they would train as boxers.”

Out of all of the projects he’s done, Hoy feels that this one’s been the most gratifying. He’s now offering virtual tours of the newly renovated space.

“I think if you pay attention to the house, the house will tell you what it needs,” Hoy says. “Try not to go in there with a headstrong plan. Keep working with the house and you’ll get it right; I think we really got this right.”

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