I’m going to start with the bad news. The Christmas House Tour is already sold out this year. I’m so sorry.
The good news is that we were able to get a VIP tour of one of the most fabulous Victorian homes from the annual event. Nick Duerlinger and Hal Dixler took a break from installing Christmas decorations to show us around their beautiful home.
Nick and Hal’s home was built as two homes in the 1870s and bought by the Singer brothers in the 1890s. When one of the brothers moved to Europe in 1907, the other brother combined the homes into an elegant Georgian Revival-style structure complete with a grand foyer.
When Nick and Hal bought the house in 1977, the single home had been converted into an 18-room boarding house. As we walked through the house that they restored, they explained how nearly every room had been subdivided into multiple bedrooms to accommodate the tenants.
Transforming the 1970s boarding house back into the Victorian/Georgian fusion gem that folks will see on the Christmas home tour took a lot of work. All the woodwork was covered with paint that Nick stripped by hand. Molding was hidden under walls. The couple kept an eye out for nearby houses that were being remodeled or razed and were able to rescue some period-appropriate fireplaces that they integrated into their house.
In the mid-1980s, Nick and Hal started offering tours of their home as part of the annual holiday event. Since then, the decorations have filled more of the house and become more elaborate each year. Today the house is overflowing with Christmas decor, though you’ll also spot some Hanukkah decorations and menorahs in the mix. Hal grew up Jewish and a few years back, Nick suggested they outfit a tree in the front room with blue and white stars and dreidels.
Though Christmas tour tickets are sold out this year, the Allegheny West Civic Council organizes a few home tours throughout the year. You can learn more about those at their website.