STRONG-WILLED GRACE

She spreads her wings in her new home in Friend­ship

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Home & Garden - By Kevin Kirkland Pitts­burgh Post-Gazette

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.

An­tonella Crescim­beni/Post-Gazette

The ex­te­rior of the house has el­e­ments of Tu­dor and Crafts­man styles. For more pho­tos, go to post-gazette.com.

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