Holidays in the ‘Burgh

Get festive (and nebby) on these 6 holiday house tours near Pittsburgh

From Glenshaw to Upper Saint Clair, there’s a tour for you.

Inside Holmes Hall during a previous Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour

Inside Holmes Hall during a previous Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour

Melanie Linn Gutowski / For The Incline

Updated Nov. 20

A holiday house tour is a great reason to take a break from untangling last year’s lights to see how other Pittsburgh homeowners are getting festive this winter.

“People just love to see the houses,” said Linda Bennardo, co-chairperson of the Glenshaw Century Club Holiday House Tour. “We used to decorate them ourselves, but now the homeowners do.”

Sometimes, holiday house tours have a way of making potential residents want to celebrate every holiday there.

“I went from not knowing about the neighborhood at all to taking the tour, buying a house, and becoming chair of the tour in less than three years,” said Carol Gomrick of the Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour. “When I walked into these houses for the first time, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is magical! Who lives in these homes?’ It’s come full circle, and it’s been an amazing experience to be part of the tour.”

Isaac Lightner house

Isaac Lightner house

Courtesy Glenshaw Century Club

Glenshaw Century Club Holiday House Tour

10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10
Tickets available at the Shaler North Hills Library, or call Linda at 412-487-8753
. $20 in advance; $25 at the door.

The Glenshaw Century Club has been organizing its annual house tour for over 40 years, according to Co-Chairperson Linda Bennardo. “They’ve gone through different stages, but we’ve been doing them a long time,” she said.

This year’s tour features three houses, two 1920s Craftsmans and the 1833 Greek Revival Isaac Lightner house, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

While the homes are close together, shuttle service is included. Tours begin at Bethlehem Lutheran Church (1719 Mount Royal Blvd.), where the club is hosting a craft fair and complimentary tea table. Proceeds benefit local causes, including scholarships for Shaler Area High School seniors and grants to community organizations.

Home (tours) for the holidays.

The interior of a home on the 2017 Symphony Splendor House Tour.

Courtesy Pittsburgh Symphony Association

Symphony Splendor Holiday Home Tour in Upper Saint Clair

11a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18
Tickets available online, or call 412-392-3303. $55 in advance; $65 at the door; $25 bus tour add-on available till Nov. 15.

The nine houses on this year’s Symphony Splendor tour in Upper Saint Clair range from an 1859 farmhouse, which will be decked with period decorations, to traditional, mid-century and contemporary homes.

This Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra fundraiser lives up to its name with lavish decorations both inside and outside of each home, and some homes will also feature live music by PSO musicians.

Now in its fifth year, this tour is the most successful fundraiser for the Pittsburgh Symphony Association, Event Chairperson Cathy Trombetta said. Local restauranteur Atria’s will have a food tent, also benefitting PSO.

Drive yourself on this tour, since the homes are far apart, or opt into a bus tour for an additional $25. Bus reservations must be made by Nov. 15. Tours begin at Upper Saint Clair High School.

Oakmont Christmas Home Tour

Noon – 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2
Tickets available in advance only; no sales at the door. $25.

See six houses on this second annual Christmas House Tour, including a new home in the Edgewater development, as well as historic homes, per Chamber Director Karen Deturck.

Driving this tour is recommended, and proceeds benefit the Oakmont Chamber of Commerce and support local activities and events.

Inside Holmes Hall during a previous Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour

Inside Holmes Hall during a previous Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour

Melanie Linn Gutowski / For The Incline

Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour & Model Train Museum Tour

5-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7 and 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8
Tickets: $30 house tour and $12 train tour till Nov. 30; $35 house tour and $15 train tour after Nov. 30 and at the door.

If you really want a taste of an old-fashioned Pittsburgh Christmas, the Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour is your best bet. Homes and streetscapes in the neighborhood are decorated largely as they would have been at the turn of the 20th century, with fresh greens, fabric ribbons — and no blinking lights.

The tour, now in its 37th year, is the Allegheny West Civic Council’s largest fundraiser, according to Chairperson Carol Gomrick. Tours are docent-led and begin at Calvary United Methodist Church, where attendees can see original Louis Comfort Tiffany windows and shop for antiques in the basement.

Most of the seven buildings on the tour are historic, as Allegheny West is a historic district. But, as Gomrick notes, “We do have a diverse group of homeowners here, and we love to see how they take an old home and breathe new life into it. We have everything from Victorians to modern to an urban-loft feel.”

Tours end at the historic Holmes Hall, where visitors can pay more to visit collector John DeSantis’ private model train museum, only open to the public during this annual tour. House tour tickets are not required to purchase train museum tickets.

Inside the private model train museum inside Holmes Hall during a previous Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour

Inside the private model train museum inside Holmes Hall during a previous Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour

Courtesy of Allegheny West Civic Council

Crafton Reimagined House Tour

1 – 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9
Tickets available online or at D&O Wine Cellars, Crafton Public Library, or Crafton Borough Office. 
$15 in advance; $20 at the door.

Crafton’s long-running annual holiday house tour is shrouded in mystery. The number and architectural styles of featured homes are not revealed in advance.

“It’s usually mostly historic,” librarian Alyssa Zolkiewicz said of the home styles.

The self-guided walking route begins at D&O Wine Cellars on East Crafton Avenue. Proceeds benefit the Crafton Recreation Board, which grants funds to recreational facilities in Crafton including the library.

Edgar Allan Poe would envy this Dormont sitting room.

Edgar Allan Poe would envy this Dormont sitting room.

Courtesy of Dormont Library House Tour

Dormont Library Holiday House Tour

2 – 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9
Tickets available online or at Dormont Public Library. 
$15 in advance; $20 at the door; buy four, get one free.

Dormont’s self-guided walking holiday house tour, in its 29th year, is not about unattainable sparkle and pizazz. Rather, it gives tourists decorating ideas that might be suitable for their own homes, Chairperson Amie Downs said.

The five historic homes on this tour were built between 1910 and 1930s and feature beautiful original fixtures such as stained glass, butler’s pantries and restored period bathrooms. The tour, which alternates between a winter and fall tour every other year, is themed “Holiday Memories.”

“We’ve asked each of the participating families to showcase how their home is part of their holiday memories,” Downs said. “One family has celebrated large family Thanksgiving dinners in their home for the past 25 years, while another will be making their first memories this year as this is their first home together.”

Want some more? Explore other Holidays in the ‘Burgh stories.

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