Bellevue prepares for first “house tour”

The four-square style home of Paul and Shari McGill will be one of the stops on the May 9 Bellevue house tour. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

House tour.

The words bring to mind such locales as Sewickley, Ben Avon, Mt. Lebanon.

Rightfully so, with their unique architecture, tended landscapes, welcoming hosts.

But now it's time to add one more stop on the tour circuit: Bellevue.

From 1 to 5 p.m. on May 9, several of Bellevue's best will be open to the public for self-guided tours, with four homes and two churches, as well as the Hermann museum selected for viewing.

"It is the 'Live, Worship, Shop Tour,' so we are trying to highlight all parts of our community," said chairperson and Bellevue Initiative for Growth and Revitalization (BIGr) founder Kathy Coder. "We tried to get a wide range of homes that would highlight the housing stock and the creative possibilities."

Types of architecture that will be represented include a 1905 renovated Grant School condominium, a 1915 Victorian Tudor that is true to its period, a 1904 four-square renovated to period, and a 1905 four-square renovation that was once apartments and converted to a single dwelling, mixing old charm and a new open plan.

In addition, guides will offer tours of Bellevue Presbyterian and Assumption Catholic churches, with everyone invited to attend 4 p.m. mass at Assumption.
Paper tickets are available at several Bellevue businesses, as well as on-line at showcilix.com, with pre-event registration costing $15. Tour tickets and maps will be available at $20 on the day of the event at Bellevue Presbyterian Church, 457 Lincoln Ave.

Businesses will be offering specials and hosting events, Coder said.

BIGr has organized the event, with the help of several volunteers from the community and the business district

Coder explained that "The purpose of the tour is to expose Bellevue's great livability and affordable housing stock so that people may want to buy homes and move here. We want people to see the potential of our neighborhood and the treasures of our walkable community. It is a two-fold event to attract outsiders in and for residents to gain more pride in their community and get ideas on what is possible. We wanted to utilize our iconic sign 'Live, Worship, Shop' to be our trademark event that would differentiate us from the 'typical' house tour. We are excited to make this event bigger every year and we have already secured several locations for next year's event."

Coder's enthusiasm for the community continues, with an answer to anyone who might question what a Bellevue house tour has to offer, for while it may not match Sewickley or Mt. Lebanon in some respects, she believes that it is "…a hidden treasure."

"There is a trend of baby boomers and millennials moving to the urban core. They are seeking walkable communities where they have easy access to transportation, a business district, good restaurants, affordable housing, charm of the old combined with the hip of today, trails, parks, etc. We have it all! I look at some of the areas in Pittsburgh that are booming and I scratch my head. Why we are not seeing the same growth? I have to think it's because we are not being proactive and showcasing our town in a strategic way. I believe the house tour is a first step to getting the word out there. We are excited to build on this and attract people to this wonderful place to 'Live, Worship, Shop!'"


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