He Fell in Love With This Mexican War Streets Home While Grabbing a Coffee

Jonathan Raney and his wife, Danielle, completely remodeled a historical fixer-upper on Pittsburgh’s Central North Side.


The resurrection of 1414 Buena Vista St. on Pittsburgh’s North Side started with a coffee run on Jonathan Raney’s way to work. 

“I was at Commonplace Coffee — it is caddy-corner to the house,” Raney says. “We were just starting on a place in Lawrenceville, and I saw this house sandwiched in between a three-story apartment complex and a contemporary, 1,800-square-foot house, and I fell in love with it.” 


Raney and his wife, Danielle, have been investing in and remodeling houses for more than five years; this particular project quickly became a favorite for the pair, who are very hands-on in their work. 

“It’s in the Mexican War Streets and had everything that scared most people away,” says Jonathan, who is a licensed general contractor. “It was very run down and most people told me if the house had not been attached to the side houses they would have just torn it down.” 


The couple spent months securing the dilapidated, 90-year-old house and then getting the necessary permits to begin work. These days, the stunningly modern, yet classic home is unrecognizable from the building Jonathan once spied from the coffee shop. 

The couple has now listed the home for $724,876 (MLS#1592874, Brian Teyssier, Re/Max Real Estate Solutions, remax.com). It is open by appointment. 

The home’s exterior already had some brick painted before the Raneys purchased it. Because the property is in the Mexican War Streets historic district, the couple also had to comply with preservation guidelines for the renovations. They successfully petitioned the Historic Review Commission of Pittsburgh to continue with the painted brick and — luckily — found a company to work with them on repairing the original wood-frame, four-pane windows on the front of the home. 

“They were able to reseal and glaze them,” Jonathan says. “They are so beautiful and they meet the historic district requirements.”


The rear of the home also received energy-efficient replacement windows. Inside, the interior still contains many original Victorian elements.

“We removed most of the hallway’s walls to open it up by installing steel support beams,” Jonathan adds. 

The spacious new layout contains a living room in the front, a centered dining room and a new kitchen in the rear. Unfortunately, the couple couldn’t save the original fireplaces in the front and center rooms.

“Someone had taken a hammer to the brick and the plaster,” he says. 


Instead, Jonathan reworked the plaster and lath and installed new fireplaces with black fireboxes alongside modern, clean lines. The damaged floors underfoot also were removed and replaced with 10-inch wide, engineered white oak flooring. 

The white walls, painted in Benjamin Moore’s White Dove, give the home a warm, ethereal feel. The couple also added lighting with a Mid-Century Modern vibe, including a brass sputnik chandelier in the dining room.  


Danielle was responsible for designing the forward-thinking, functional kitchen space that includes a backsplash of stacked, square black tiles. 

“She found a photo on Pinterest that inspired her,” Jonathan says. “It had the dark stacked tile and the dark hood vent.” 


Anchoring the kitchen is a large center island with a gunmetal black undermount sink and faucet; a dishwasher is hidden under the quartz waterfall surfaces. Beneath the hood is a cafe-style, commercial-grade range by Cosmo. 

The MCM vibes continue with brass, globe pendants over the island and a slatted wood wall panel on the far end of the kitchen. An black door leads to a rear deck and a simple, fenced-in yard for the couple’s young children. 

“We just liked the idea of having a nice place to play and toss a ball with the kids or to make a nice little garden,” Jonathan says.  


Boasting 12-foot-high ceilings, the first floor also contains an elegant powder room with a penny tile accent wall. Adding more glamour is the original staircase, which wears a new coat of black paint on its dramatic carved spindles and railing. 

The second and third levels contain five bedrooms, a laundry room with quartz countertops and three full bathrooms. The bathrooms each have a Mid-Century Modern-style vanity with a slatted front and freestanding legs. The black fixtures play nicely against the gray floor tile. 


While the second level contains two bedrooms, the third floor has three bedrooms, including the primary suite. 

The 19-by-13-square-foot primary bedroom has a slat accent wall and an 11-by-11- square-foot, walk-in closet. The luxurious attached bathroom has a soaking tub, separate shower and a natural oak, double vanity. A lighted mirror has touch sensors and fog-free features, while the large-format floor tiles in warm gray mimic natural outdoor stone.

The other two bedrooms are digitally staged in the photos, one as a home office and the other as a stylish guest room. 


The home’s updated mechanicals include electric, heating and air-conditioning.  Its prime location also is within walking distance to several Pittsburgh landmarks, among them Randyland, the Mattress Factory museum and Alphabet City. 

Jonathan acknowledges it was a struggle for him to put the home he fell in love with so quickly back on the market. 

“It is the perfect blend of original features and today’s living experience,” he says. “You have space, a yard and, of course, a coffee shop.” 

Drawing on her years of experience covering the regions real estate industry, Rosa Coluccis Hot Property takes an inside look into unique and historic homes currently on the market. Each week, Hot Property goes behind the For Sale sign to share the story of a special Pittsburgh area home.  And four times a year, Hot Property will give an in-depth look at the regions real estate market in Pittsburgh Magazine HOME, track housing prices and sales and detail where the hot properties can be found. Rosa can be reached at onecordovaroad@gmail.com.

About: Mexican War Streets (mexicanwarstreets.org)
Population: 2,923 (Central North Side)
Planes, Trains & Automobiles: A 25-minute commute to the airport. Daily transport via Pittsburgh Regional Transit. Bike, rideshare and rail train.
Schools: Pittsburgh Public Schools (pghschools.org)
Neighborhoods: Part of the original Old Allegheny City, the Mexican War Streets were named after the generals who fought in the in Mexican-American War. At the turn of the 19th century the original landowners were some of the wealthiest men in the world. It originally was designated a historic district in 1975 with 119 buildings; it was later expanded in 2020 with an additional 288 buildings, making it one of the nation’s most extensive historic districts; the district subsequently was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places

Categories: Hot Property