This Old Pittsburgh House: The Boggs Legacy

The Boggs Mansion, now The Inn on the Mexican War Streets, is a testament to the legacy of an early Pittsburgh tycoon.

photo by baidi wang


Of the remaining traces that the North Side was once the stomping grounds of millionaires, the stone townhouse on North Avenue that once belonged to Russell H. Boggs is among the finest.

Built as the 19th Century came to a close, the house has outlived the department store established by Boggs and his partner, Henry Buhl, in Allegheny City in 1869. Boggs & Buhl was demolished in 1960 for Allegheny Center Mall, now Nova Place. The store served the “carriage trade” — the well-to-do of old Allegheny City — and appropriately, the proprietors saw to it that their delivery wagons were drawn by handsome steeds.

Boggs also basically created the North Hills. The electric trolley line he built, called the “Harmony Route,” stretched from Pittsburgh to his hometown of Evans City and onward to New Castle. When it began service in 1908, at each stop along the tracks — Ingomar, Wexford, Bradford Woods — Boggs’ North Pittsburgh Realty Co. offered suburban lots for sale.

Boggs’ daughter also preferred the countryside, especially the family’s summer home in Sewickley Heights. When her father died in 1922 from injuries suffered in a fall, she sold the North Side townhouse to a seminary next door.

Retired teachers Karl Kargle and Jeff Stasko, partners for 40 years now, at one time owned 18 properties in the Mexican War Streets. When they bought the Boggs place in 1998 for $100,000, it was in grave disrepair. Downspouts in the stone walls had silted up, and water leaks formed icicles on the central staircase. Termites had consumed much of the woodwork, and a finial on the roofline had crashed through the porch roof and lay at the door like a tombstone.

​Kargle and Stasko estimate they put close to a million dollars into restoration. In 2000, they opened The Inn on the Mexican War Streets. Preserved articles from Boggs & Buhl, such as a piano and an old wind-up Victrola, can be found throughout. A mantelpiece of rare blood marble dominates the main hall.

A Steelers room with memorabilia nods to the sports fans who are frequent clientele. Still stored in the basement, however, is a row of seats from Three Rivers Stadium. “Jeff won’t let me bring them up,” Kargle says. “They have chewing gum on ‘em.”

The owners live in an expansive carriage house in back. For a year, they ran an upscale restaurant there; Stasko is also a chef who taught culinary arts and hotel management. Now the kitchen is for private occasions only — such as Kargle’s birthday party a few months ago.

For $159 on a weeknight, guests can stay in the master bedroom and enjoy the same view over West Park that Boggs did a century ago. Or, if that has a lasting appeal, the owners say they’re always ready to consider an offer to buy the whole place.  

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Did You See This? Steelers' JuJu Delivers Surprise Autograph

In a video he shared, JuJu Smith-Schuster shows up at a store that had just started selling his jerseys to sign one for a fan who had been waiting for it to come in.

Watch: The Terrible Towel and 45 Years of Steelers Nation

Perspectives from Franco Harris to Joe Manganiello.

Yinzers Eating Chicken Wings Are Going to Be on TV

Mt. Washington’s Bigham Tavern is the latest ‘Burgh eatery to host a film crew.

Madeline Bakery and Bistro to Open in Wilkinsburg

The French-inspired bakery will feature croissants, cookies, bread and more.

32 Years Celebrating Pittsburghers of the Year

As we honor the 2017 Pittsburghers of the year, take a look back at the previous honorees and their significant, unforgettable contributions to our city.

Wish a Steeler a Speedy Recovery in a Big Way

An oversized get-well-soon card for Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier is waiting for your signature Downtown.

Watch: Who is Faster on a Zamboni? Crosby or Malkin?

Sid and Geno love to compete, especially against each other. This time, the future Hall-of-Famers climbed aboard Zamboni machines for a race across a parking lot.

2017 Pittsburgher of the Year: Kelly Frey

No one would blame the veteran WTAE anchor if she took time off while undergoing intensive breast cancer treatment. Instead, she chose to use humor and grace to educate and inspire others, all while in the public eye.

Steelers Can't Ease Their Patriots Pain Until January

Much as they’d like to, the Steelers won’t be able to exorcise the ghosts of AFC Championship Games Past, even with a win on Sunday.

Green Medicine: The Business of Medical Marijuana

For many, medical marijuana is a panacea capable of alleviating a wide range of symptoms. As Pennsylvania begins allowing the drug’s medical use, patients are relieved — and business is booming.