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Charlie Stewart

There’s No Place Like Home

According to the 2000 census, Allegheny County residents spend an average of eight years and three months living in one house before moving to another.  Not reflected in that number is a Pittsburgh phenomenon that can’t be ignored: the unusually large number of people who spend their childhood in a house, only to return to it years later to raise their own families there.  For these people…

CSLynn Snyderman

            The idea of moving into her parents’ house, the one she fondly remembers growing up in as an only child, had “absolutely never crossed my mind,” says Lynn Snyderman of Squirrel Hill.  But when her mother passed away in 2002, shortly after her father died, circumstances quickly changed.

Lynn describes the day family and friends came to pay their respects at the house and “ganged up” on her. “You’re not going to get rid of this house, are you?” they asked. Lynn remembers her reaction. “My mother had just been buried, and it never occurred to me that I would ever have to deal with this issue. But I was so shocked that there was this unanimity of feeling. This house was so symbolic to our family. My parents had lived here since 1966, and people just couldn’t imagine it not being in our family.”

            A year later, Lynn, an attorney; her husband, Lew Hyman, also an attorney and an investment adviser on Walnut Street; and their three children (two from her previous marriage, one from his) all moved in—right in the middle of  a massive renovation project to add a second floor to their Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired ranch house.

             As a once-divorced, single parent, with no siblings and two deceased parents, Lynn said that at one time she had been “floating.” Now she smiles as she describes the “feeling of connectedness” she has to happy childhood days in the neighborhood she knows so well.

            “I love coming home here,” says Lynn. “I love pulling into the driveway and feeling like I am really home again.” 


CSLynne Adelsheimer Goldstein

“I was pregnant. Our son was one,” begins Lynne Adelsheimer Goldstein as she describes the four months she and husband, Michael, lived with her mother and father before her parents moved out of her childhood home.  “There were boxes everywhere,” she says. “Our whole life was in the basement.”

That was in 1999, when Lynne’s parents, Harry and Carol Adelsheimer, who own Linton’s, were about to downsize to a condo. “It was very hectic,” recalls Michael. “And if we didn’t love each other so much, we wouldn’t have done it.”

            Fast forward to 2006. By now the Goldsteins have remodeled almost every area of their Squirrel Hill house, including the third floor studio and office from which they run their photography business. Lynne says, “We live, eat, work, and breathe out of this house.”  And childhood memories often come to her. “We used to have a hot tub in the backyard and, if you ask anyone I went to high school with, they could probably tell you some stories.”

            Her memories also include the times when she and her girlfriends used a staircase landing window to spy on her brothers and their friends as they played basketball outside. A generation later she is amused by seeing her daughter spy on her son’s friends from the same window.
            As the Goldsteins look to the future and their next move, Michael jokes, “When Lynne’s parents are ready for Riverview [a senior living facility], we’ll be ready for their condo.”  

CSLucy Rawson

            Lucy Rawson never thought she would come back to Pittsburgh—and live in the house where she grew up. But when she and her husband, Ian, returned from abroad for her father’s funeral in 1972, they moved into her parents’ house to take care of both her mother and her father’s mother while Ian studied for his Ph.D. in anthropology at Pitt.

            “We thought it would be for three or four years,” says Lucy, whose mother passed away 24 years later in 1996. “We lived together for a long time.” Recalling the advantages of living with three generations in the same house, she continues, “It was a great place to raise our kids and it was nice for my mother because she was alone and she loved being with my children. She helped me and we helped each other, so it worked really well. Of course, my husband is a saint.”

            The memories easily come back to Lucy as her eyes scan the first floor—secret hiding places, playing tag, jumping rope, and walking to Linden School. Pointing to the same front hall staircase she descended in her wedding gown years ago, she almost casually adds that she was married in the dining room.

            And, each spring, more memories blossom as the bulbs that bloom in the garden remind Lucy of her mother who planted them. 

CSAnn Bass Roth

Dr. Lee Bass, the revered pediatrician and father-like figure to new parents, was only the second owner of the Squirrel Hill house that his daughter, Ann Bass Roth, now lives in with her family. With its short owner history, Ann says, “It really feels like it’s ours.”

            It was Ann’s mother, Marian, who first wanted to downsize, after seeing that all of her friends were moving to condos. But Dr. Bass said he wasn’t going to budge unless Ann and her family moved in. Ironically it was Ann’s husband, Richard, who had to finally convince Ann that it was a good idea. “I just couldn’t imagine the task of moving and renovating,” recalls Ann.

            Today, Ann appreciates living within walking distance of the same friends she had at Wightman School. “I think the fondest feelings, the warmest feelings that come are connected to my family and my childhood friends. We spent a lot of time here growing up.  My house was the comfortable place to come and hang and eat. It was very connected to food. And my parents were very much a part of that.  Just the warmth and sense of family and sort of community connection is still very much how we feel about it here.”  

CSRobert Uricchio

            Ten years ago, Robert Uricchio and his wife, Louise, were about to be married and were scouting for a house to buy. Meanwhile, his parents were preparing to downsize from their six-bedroom Squirrel Hill house. “Why don’t you just take this house?” his parents asked. Though it was more house than they needed, they took them up on the offer. “Everyone was happy,” says Robert.

Recalling his boyhood days living there, Robert says his father taught biology at Carlow College, while his mother was the at-home “handyman” and homemaker. “My father was the cook,” says Robert, a co-proprietor of Laforêt restaurant in Highland Park along with his brother and chef, Michael. “He did all the cooking; my mother did all the home maintenance. That’s why my two brothers and I all enjoy cooking.”

             Though the house was in great shape, the couple still wanted to personalize it. Doing the work themselves, Robert and Louise re-wired, re-plumbed, painted, and plastered, uncovering a beamed ceiling and wall murals in the process. His parents’ reaction to the changes? “Every step of the way they were excited,” says Robert.
“Never in a million years” had Robert imagined living in the house in which he grew up from the time he was a baby. Now he finds it very comfortable and, even though there are a lot of extra rooms, for the moment he dismisses thoughts of ever having to downsize.

CSJamie Edwards

“This is the only house I remember,” says Jamie Edwards, who was two years old when his father, Dick Edwards, bought their house in Squirrel Hill in 1958 to accommodate Jamie and his four older siblings. When Jamie’s father and stepmother moved to an apartment a generation later, in 1985, Jamie and his wife, Melinda, moved in with their one-year old and have lived there ever since.  

            Jamie enjoys recounting the architectural history of the house that was designed by Ingham & Boyd (the predecessor firm to IKM) and built in 1926. And he is absolutely certain of at least three prevailing, time-tested traditions with which he has grown up—namely, that no one will ever be able to figure out how to design a powder room to retro-fit into the first floor, that there is only one perfect size and position for the TV in the den, and that the ideal location for the Christmas tree is in the passageway between the den and the living room, which is where his mother decided a Christmas tree should go. Having lived here for so long, Jamie says, “I just know these things.”

            As a child, Jamie recalls having rubber band and paper clip wars with his brother, Mike, and using the large cardboard box that the new washing machine arrived in to make a slide down the front stairway. The sound of the streetcars he used to hear from Fifth Avenue may have faded away, but Jamie’s memories of the house he grew up in are as clear as ever.

CSMary Anne Hanna

In 1982, Mary Anne Hanna and her husband, Hoddy, bought her parents’ Arts & Crafts style house in Fox Chapel—the house she had grown up in from the time she was eight years old. How does a savvy real estate man—Hoddy is chairman and CEO of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services—purchase a house from his in-laws? “Both sides wanted to make it fair,” says Mary Anne. “Hoddy gave my dad a list of appraisers and my dad chose three. We kind of took the middle of the road and that was how we bought the house.”

            Five years ago, they renovated the home to create a front entrance on what had originally been the side of the house. “When the governor came to a reception at our house and had to enter through the kitchen mudroom, I knew we had to do something,” laughs Mary Anne.

            From her childhood days, Mary Anne holds vivid memories of “secret meetings” in what used to be the carriage house that became the girls’ “clubhouse,” and their neighbor, General Matthew B. Ridgeway, setting out on his morning walk with his swagger stick at precisely 7 o’clock every day.

            When you buy the family house, besides being around daily reminders of your childhood, you also become the host of family get-togethers, especially Thanksgiving. “Mom did it,” Mary Anne says, “so somehow I inherited it.” She wouldn’t have it any other way. With seven grandchildren, those family gatherings are becoming larger, so the Hannas have no foreseeable plans to downsize.

            But Hoddy, ever mindful of his profession, doesn’t encourage everyone to follow in their footsteps.  “If everybody did what we did, I’d have to be doing something else for a living!”

CSDavid Wolfson

Dr. David Wolfson looks back and sees himself as a little pre-schooler in his childhood house holding onto a Golden Book titled Doctor Dan the Bandage Man.  “And you got two free BAND-AIDs,” David happily recalls, “right inside the cover.” The Squirrel Hill house he mentions is the same house that he and his wife, Nancy, now live in with their three children.

Though he didn’t “consciously” decide to go into medicine until high school, it’s no wonder David was enamored with the idea. His father, Dr. Jerome Wolfson, a retired pediatrician from Bass Wolfson Pediatrics, is David’s role model, as both share the same love of caring for children.

Following David’s pediatric training in Chicago and Boston, he and Nancy moved back to Pittsburgh in 1991 when David joined his father’s practice. They subsequently bought his parents’ house in 1994. Nancy admits they “felt a little ridiculous” moving into such a large house with only their eleven-month-old daughter at the time but, as she says, they “managed to fill it up.”

David laughs good-naturedly about the notion of living his father’s life. “It’s true and it’s a very good thing,” says David, who values the opportunities he has been given and who sees his father not only as a role model professionally, but also as someone to emulate in “how to be there for the family and how life can be in this house.”

With many thanks to SHADY AVE magazine for granting me permission to reprint on my website.


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