Rather than fill the entire structure with a house, the couple’s plan was to build a 2,300-square-foot house, a courtyard and a garage, all of which would be inside the pre-existing brick walls. Dan calls this an “an adaptive restoration.”

The big windows stayed to bring in tons of natural light, extra bricks from the walls were laid down for the courtyard, and standing in Dan and Leslie’s bedroom you can see the old terracotta tiles, credited with preserving the foundation, now topping the brick walls of the courtyard.

Today the Northside is peppered with successful row house projects such as 1521. In neighborhoods such as these, innovative minds are doing what they can to work with what already exists. Not only are there possibilities to buy affordable homes, but for those who have a little creativity, tenacity and patience there is an opportunity to upcycle old Pittsburgh.

“PCRG can make something happen in an otherwise challenging market,” says Dan. Fewer people are opting to wipe out neighborhoods to create new ones, but instead people are learning to unearth the structures that have been there since the beginning and working to build from the inside out. In doing so, we can give Pittsburgh credit for preserving its original buildings and its original communities.

Next time you saunter up Monterey Street and the party is on in Dan and Leslie’s kitchen, wave hello. You might end up chatting at the kitchen counter or maybe even three flights up to check out the breathtaking cityscape from the new roof of 1521.

In the courtyard. Photo by Brian Cohen.

In the courtyard. Photo by Brian Cohen.

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About The Author

Contributing Writer

Janna is happily rediscovering Pittsburgh after spending nearly a decade living New York City. She’s a writer by trade—magazines, blogs and a book called He Never Liked Cake. And she’s also a yoga teacher. Her classes can be found pretty much all around this city.

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