She spreads her wings in her new home in Friendship
True to her name, Grace Eagle only soars outdoors. She takes an ACCESS Paratransit bus four times a week to volunteer at the Animal Friends shelter in Ohio Township and on Sundays for services at Oakmont Presbyterian Church.
But inside her centuryold house in Friendship, she must carefully maneuver her motorized wheelchair through narrow doorways. Beverly, her service dog, can’t help much.
“Sometimes it’s hard to get around,” Ms. Eagle says. “I have to really pay attention to where I’m going.”
Yet the 22-year-old loves the home she shares with her mother, Jayne Bower,
stepfather Eric Thorp and caregiver Dinora Putman and her husband, Dave. It’s one of seven homes on the Friendship House Tour from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 24. The tour is sponsored by UPMC and proceeds benefit the Friendship Community Group.
Ms. Eagle says she prefers this 1905 brick Foursquare with Tudor and Craftsman details to the much newer house the family had in a Philadelphia suburb. They house-hunted for more than a year in the East End before buying this one in May 2016. When they heard there were two other offers, they moved fast.
“We bought it without walking in it,” Ms. Bower said, laughing.
“I wanted to be in Friendship. This house was by far the most beautiful. It was hard to find a house with the right features for Grace.”
The family spent several months renovating and adapting the three-story, red-brick house for their needs. A long ramp was added to the back door and the library on the first floor was converted into Grace’s bedroom. Its original pocket doors are closed for privacy. An accessible bathroom was added in the bedroom and a larger powder room built behind it, just off the kitchen.
All of the house’s architectural details were left intact, including the oak columned entry, leaded and stained glass, hardwood floors, coffered ceilings, fireplace mantels, window seats, wainscoting and delicate plaster ornament on many of the ceilings. There’s also a butler’s pantry and breakfast room.
The house got a new roof, all new wiring and central air-conditioning. A new patio with gas grill was added in the back by the carriage house. The Putmans live in an apartment on the third floor.
Highlights include a huge stained-glass window on the staircase landing and the dining room with a coffered ceiling, Craftsman-style fireplace and many original stained-glass windows and transoms. Sconces and a Craftsman-style chandelier illuminate the dark-stained woodwork beautifully.
Ms. Bower said there is still more to do, but the house feels like home.
“One of the reasons we came to Pittsburgh was to give Grace more independence,” she said.
Ms. Eagle said her favorite part of her new home is the ease of transportation. She became an Animal Friends volunteer before she even moved into the house. One of her regular duties at the shelter is to greet people who come to adopt a pet.
“Good connections with the people is what matters most to me,” she said.
After all of those weekday trips to the North Hills, you might expect her to find a closer church to attend on Sundays. Credit her good connections.
“A dear friend from Animal Friends brought me to this church,” she said. “It’s a dedication.”
The dining room features a coffered ceiling and Craftsman-style fireplace and woodwork. It is on the Friendship House Tour.
Grace Eagle with her service dog Beverly.
The exterior of the house has elements of Tudor and Craftsman styles. For more photos, go to post-gazette.com.