Hot Property: A Classic Tudor Preserved by Love
In the first of a weekly series from Rosa Colucci, Hot Property takes you inside a three-bedroom brick home on Inglewood Drive in Mt. Lebanon that is listed at $728,500.
Greg Toto has fond memories of his Mt. Lebanon childhood home. His parents, Joan and George Toto, purchased the classic Tudor at 110 Inglewood Drive when he was 10. While the couple traveled extensively for work, this house was their permanent residence.
“My dad was a trained electrical engineer and worked in nuclear energy with Westinghouse,” Greg says. “He worked on the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine.”
While the house search was on, young Greg pleaded with his parents not to purchase one with a large lot.
“At 10, I had to mow the lawn,” he recalls with a laugh.
His request went unheeded, as this house sits on a double lot filled with trees and grass. Inside, the three-bedroom, two- and one-half-bath home is filled with stunning architecture.
On the market for the first time in 50 years, it’s listed for $728,500 with Vera Purcell of Howard Hanna Real Estate (MLS#1473008; howardhanna.com or 412/916-4488). It is open by appointment only in accordance with the state’s COVID-19 regulations.
The all-brick exterior features a low-slung dormer on the left and a central tower with an entry door.
“The value of the land alone is more than $350,000,” Purcell notes. “This house is so remarkable, it just gets under your skin with its beauty.”
The classic Tudor appointments at every turn begin with the front door with its thick, tongue-in-groove oak set on original black iron hinges.
In the entry, a two-story wall of leaded glass windows details glass shields that dance in the daylight. Carved oak railings and posts from old wood are so solid they belie their 90 years of use.
While George Toto was busy at work, Joan was diving into her passion for antiquities and Renaissance design. Her hobby became a career when she opened her own storefronts at several locations through the years, including Mahla Antiques in the Strip District.
Greg’s father taught him how to do everything from rewiring lights to laying a tile floor. Joan’s love of antiques kept the house with a revolving furniture collection and provided the means for her to acquire several pieces of vintage lighting.
“The kitchen fixture came from a church I believe. I rewired, repaired and hung it,” Greg says. “The chandeliers in the master bedroom were purchased at separate times, you would never know they were not there [originally].”
The 25-by-17-square-foot living room features a vaulted ceiling with timber wood cross beams. The fireplace mantel is two solid pieces of oak. The waist-high andirons are antiques found by Joan and left with the house.
Originally, the home was designed to have servants. The kitchen was a galley with red counters and white cabinets with a dumb waiter and a small bathroom. The couple remodeled the kitchen in the 1980s, designing the space to fit with the home’s architecture but with modern conveniences.
The 16-by-14-square-foot kitchen features solid oak cabinets, a tiled alcove, wall and floor. In recent years, Joan upgraded the appliances and replaced the countertops with black granite.
The first-floor powder room features a wallcovering with Renaissance dancing ladies that play off of the intricately carved fixtures.
Another stately light fixture hangs mightily in the 14-by-14-square-foot dining room. There are also a pair of built-in display cabinets that flank the corners. The stunning original radiator cover sits under a window.
The 17-by-17-square-foot den occupies a corner of the house with picture windows on two sides that have great views of the property. There is a high dormer ceiling and window seats.
Upstairs, the three bedrooms include the majestic 25-by-17-square-foot owner’s bedroom that features an Inglenook fireplace — a rare feature that fits right in here. The room has great exterior window views, vaulted and beamed ceilings and a cedar closet.
Two more bedrooms measure 14-by-14 square feet and 18-by-11 feet, respectively. They are connected by a Jack-and-Jill-bath.
On the lower level, a 14-by-14 game room was once the integral garage.
“My dad said one Christmas day in the late ’70s, ‘C’mon, we are going to start a remodeling project,’” Greg recalls. The pair went downstairs and broke up the floor with a sledgehammer.
“Then he taught me how to lay a tile floor, and over two weekends I laid the floor,” Greg adds.
A new garage was added.
Throughout the home, the walls are finished with a glazed Venetian plaster effect.
“My parents messed around with the process on a wall section for a few days before they perfected the finish. Then they hired an old Italian craftsman to execute it,” Greg says. “Years later, when we finished the basement, they convinced him to come out of retirement to do those walls. He was in his 80s by then.”
Joan Toto was able to remain in the home for most of her life.
“My mom loved that house. We were fortunate that she was able to stay independent almost until the end,” Greg says. “The home was an extension of her. She lived there for 50 years.”
About: Mt. Lebanon (mtlebanon.org)
Planes, Trains & Automobiles: Just a 25-minute commute to the airport; Daily via Port Authority’s T-Rail line and street buses; on-street, metered and by permit.
Schools: The Mt. Lebanon School District is highly regarded ranking 15th in the country and #1 in PA according to Niche.com. (mtlsd.org)
Neighborhoods: Mt. Lebanon has one of the most vibrant and thriving business districts (And dog friendly!) in Allegheny County. Take a stroll and visit Rollier’s Hardware, Uptown Coffee and The Fabric Place. Restaurants range from a quick slice at Mineo’s, to upscale dining at Bistro 19. Benches and trees welcome visitors and historic churches up and down the avenue are a marvel to behold any time of the year.
Drawing on her years of experience covering the region’s real estate industry, Rosa Colucci’s Hot Property will offer 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 region’s 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 email@example.com.