“A Fairyland Home.”
That’s what the the Pittsburgh Press once called the 17-room Italian Renaissance mansion built for the family of Allegheny County Judge A. Marshall Thompson in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania. At the time, some of the original acreage belonging to the 1917 estate was being purchased, on its way to becoming Villa of North Park and later, Estates at the Villa. A 2009 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article chronicling the development noted that the mansion’s historic grandeur would serve as inspiration for these new upscale neighborhoods.
And so it has. Today, the two neighborhoods are filled with multimillion-dollar homes (and some of the most famous athletes from Pittsburgh’s professional sports franchises), but Tyburn Woods Estates, as Judge Thompson’s idyllic former home is known, remains the area’s preeminent real estate prize.
“This seven-bedroom, eight-bath house combines Old World elegance with modern convenience, privacy with a sense of neighborhood and familial warmth with formal entertainment possibilities on 9+ acres on the edge of prestigious North Park,” says Peter J. Kalis, the home’s owner for the past 16 years with his wife, Mary M. O’Day. They consider themselves to be “custodians of this wonderful property.”
The 12,000-square-foot residence, which was also the site of the Junior League of Pittsburgh’s “Decorator Show House” in 1979, is as fetching today as it was when it was first imagined, owing to good bones, meticulous craftsmanship and a pristine address that is at once convenient and exceptionally private. It provides a “sense of tranquility and peacefulness that is captivating,” says Kalis.
But a complete renovation helped “to return the house to its original splendor,” he says, by marrying historical detail at the highest quality with state-of-the-art modern amenities.
“The original lighting fixtures had all been removed and replaced with fixtures not worthy of this house, and we sought to replace them with fixtures that would have been original to the house,” says O’Day. “Similarly, we replaced the thatched roof with a new slate roof and added back the original dormers. We tried to save as much of the original woodwork of the house, including the restoration of the wood floors.”
The detailed woodwork throughout the home is one of its hallmarks, and it strikes you the second you enter. In the impressive foyer, rich wood climbs the walls and dresses the ceilings, contrasted by gleaming floors below. In the immaculate, immense dining room, oak paneling that hugs every inch of the walls serves as the ideal backdrop for a holiday dinner or charity banquet. In the formal living room, an umbrella of impressive beams is complemented by a statuesque fireplace. Through a set of French doors, the solarium awaits, a sun-splashed space that first dazzled guests a century ago.
Light, bright and chef-worthy define the modern kitchen. Custom cabinets, yards of stone counters, and professional stainless steel appliances cater to gourmet chefs. A wall of picture windows providing serene views of the grounds and a trio of skylights bathe the space in sunlight. Just adjacent, an incredible copper fireplace warms the breakfast nook.
Another new kitchen adds valuable function to the lower level, where “the basement ballroom was completely transformed into a recreational and workout floor for ideal entertaining,” says Kalis. Along with a new bathroom, this floor offers space for a pool/game table and a large theater area.
The entertainment potential may be even greater outside, where amenities are enhanced by exceptional privacy.
“There’s a pool surrounded by an English garden, a pool house, private, manicured grounds, patios and terraces, and a canopy of century-old oak trees,” says Kalis. “We also added a lighted sports court hidden behind the pool house. This is the home that many families, and certainly our family, always dreamed of living in; it is, in essence, a dream come true.”
Perhaps even a fairyland.
6 full and 2 half baths
Represented by: Linda DiBucci
Coldwell Banker Real Estate Services
By Jaymi Naciri
This article originally appeared in the fall 2016 issue of Homes & Estates.