Updated 5:45 p.m. May 3
To old house junkies and HGTV addicts, warmer weather means house tour season, when local homeowners open their abodes to members of the public, often to raise money for a local organization.
House tours “really share the character of each neighborhood and they attract people from all over the city,” said Bonny Kwolek, co-chairperson of the Observatory Hill house tour committee.
Sometimes a house tour can even turn into house hunt.
Kwolek attended the Observatory Hill house tour for years before deciding to move there herself from the South Hills in 2010.
“The fact that it’s a walking tour means people aren’t simply passing through the neighborhood but are really engaging and getting to know it,” said Janine Jelks-Seale, co-chairperson of the Highland Park Community Council’s house tour committee.
“Tour-goers cannot only appreciate the history of architecture from another era, but there are some really great comeback stories of dilapidated homes brought back from the brink,” she said.
Both women credit house tours as great ways to meet neighbors.
“You actually produce a community that way, and pride in the community, so that people take care of the community,” Kwolek said.
And don’t forget your walking shoes and your sense of adventure.
“It’s just nice to get out and explore the nooks and crannies of Pittsburgh,” Jelks-Seale said.
The Sewickley House Tour is one of the region's longest-running house tours, this year's marking its 38th iteration. The 2018 tour called "At Home in Sewickley" includes five homes in the village of Sewickley and the boroughs of Edgeworth and Bell Acres. All proceeds from this self-guided tour benefit the nonprofit Child Health Association of Sewickley, founded in 1923, which provides grants to regional programs and services that help Western Pennsylvania kids. Tours run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
Where: Various locations in Sewickley, Edgeworth, and Bell Acres
When: May 4, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. to May 5, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.
How much: $50
This year marks the return of one of the Junior League of Pittsburgh's most popular fundraisers after an 11-year hiatus: The Designers' Show House. This year's chosen home is the Greek Revival-style 1905-era Yingling mansion, where each of the home's 28 rooms will be remodeled by a different designer. Proceeds will benefit organizations working to end food insecurity in the city's East End. Following its turn as a show house, the building will be used as a community center. Hours vary by day.
Where: The Show House at 1300 Wood St. (Wilkinsburg)
When: May 5, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. to May 20, 2018 at 8:00 p.m.
How much: $30
A perfect Mother's Day weekend treat, the Highland Park House Tour offers a self-guided walking tour of 12 neighborhood homes. Typical of the neighborhood's architecture, you'll see many turn-of-the-20th-century homes in Victorian, colonial and craftsman styles, among others. Proceeds benefit the Highland Park Community Council.
Where: St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church at 5801 Hampton St. (Highland Park)
When: May 12, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
How much: $35
A trio of North Side neighborhoods have teamed up to offer the first-ever East Northside House Tour. Your ticket even includes trolley service between the three neighborhoods. Expect plenty of vernacular architectural gems — late 19th century Victorian row houses galore. Proceeds will benefit the Troy Hill Citizens Council and the Community Alliance of Spring Garden and East Deutschtown.
When: June 16, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
How much: $15
Allegheny West hosts several seasonal house tours, not simply its perennially popular Victorian Christmas tour. This summer guided home and garden tour features seven stops, beginning at the historic Holmes Hall mansion. Each location on the tour will feature a wine and appetizer pairing. Proceeds benefit the Allegheny West Civic Council. Times vary by day.
Where: Holmes Hall at 719 Brighton Rd. (North Side)
When: June 22, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. to June 23, 2018 at 9:00 p.m.
How much: $75
The Historic South Side Home Tour is a great opportunity to check out how a historic neighborhood has married its past and present. You'll see lovingly restored late 19th century homes, as well as brand-new construction and re-purposed industrial spaces on this tour. Bring your walking shoes, because the featured properties are in both the Flats and the Slopes. Proceeds benefit the South Side Community Council.
Where: Home Tour Check-in at 2000 Mary St. (South Side)
When: June 23, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
How much: $14 until the end of May | $18 June 1-22 | $20 day-of
The Observatory Hill House Tour can't be beat for its spectacular views of the city. While you're walking the tour route, don't miss a chance to check out Riverview Park and the neighborhood's namesake Allegheny Observatory. This year's theme, "The Ins & Outs of Observatory Hill," will focus on an area of historic homes along Perrysville Avenue known as "Judge's Row." Homes on the tour will feature craft beer tastings and artists on porches and in gardens along the route. Proceeds benefit Observatory Hill Incorporated.
Where: Perrysville and Riverview avenues
When: June 24, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
How much: $15 in advance | $18 day-of
Manchester, on the North Side, is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and one of its greatest historic preservation success stories. This tour will take you "from high Victorian to funky chic," according to the Manchester Historic Society, which sponsors the tour.
Where: Colonel James Anderson House at 1423 Liverpool St. (North Side)
When: August 5, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
How much: $15 in advance | $20 day-of
Correction: A photo caption incorrectly identified a neighborhood; the houses are in East Allegheny.