5 fall house tours for nebby Pittsburghers

From Bellevue to Lawrenceville, you won’t want to miss these homes.

Tour day is 'always a beautiful day in Friendship.'

Tour day is 'always a beautiful day in Friendship.'

Melanie Linn Gutowski / For The Incline

Fall is peak season for house tours in Pittsburgh, occupying that brief time between needing air conditioning and heat.

Tour day is “always a beautiful day in Friendship,” said Sara DeLucia, chairperson of the Friendship House and Architecture Tour. “It’s great to showcase our community and why we live where we do and open our neighborhood to the city.”

It’s also a good time for those featured on the tour to wrap up projects — and for tourgoers to get ideas for projects in their own homes.

“It’s really a chance for everyone to present the neighborhood in its best light,” said Leslie Vincen, house tour coordinator for the Mexican War Streets Society. “It’s a good deadline to have if you’ve been meaning to do something in the house,” she said with a laugh.

Plus, “people are nebby,” said Kate Bayer, chair of the Lawrenceville Hospitality House Tour. “They want to see what these houses look like.”

So grab your pumpkin spice latte, put on your comfy sweater, and crunch through the leaves this fall as you gawk at all the comforts of home and maybe soak up a little inspiration for your own place.

Check out houses of all shapes and sizes in the Mexican War Streets.

Check out houses of all shapes and sizes in the Mexican War Streets.

Melanie Linn Gutowski / For The Incline

49th Annual Mexican War Streets House & Garden Tour

Sunday, Sept. 9, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tickets: $18 in advance, $20 at the door

Now in its 49th year, the Mexican War Streets House & Garden Tour includes 10 homes and one garden.

“We like to say that we are the oldest and finest house tour in the city,” Vincen said.

Look for a sampling of various housing styles and sizes on the tour.

“People come down here and they’re always surprised because the houses look so small from the front,” Vincen said of the traditional row houses that characterize the neighborhood. “But then they get inside and see how big and deep they are. You get a taste of the real diversity of housing stock around here.”

Friendship is home to architectural stunners like this one.

Friendship is home to architectural stunners like this one.

Melanie Linn Gutowski / For The Incline

Friendship House & Architecture Tour

Sunday, Sept. 23, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door

Now in its 30th year, Friendship’s house tour has evolved from a traditional single-family house tour into an event that represents more of a cross-section of housing styles.

“We have a nice mix of single-family homes, rentals and condos on the tour,” DeLucia said.

While the exteriors of most homes reflect the 1880-1920 era, the insides may surprise tourgoers. One property of note was extensively featured in the 2008 film “Smart People,” starring Ellen Page and Thomas Haden Church.

Tour proceeds benefit the Friendship Community Group.

Alleys, Axles & Ales in Allegheny West

Saturday, Sept. 29 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 at the door 

There’s something to be said for curb appeal, which Allegheny West has in spades. But what of the unsung, more utilitarian parts of city properties?

This unconventional tour of one of Pittsburgh’s most picturesque neighborhoods gives attendees a peek at the flip side of Allegheny West, namely its alleys, garages, and some of the classic cars that live there.

Casually stroll the neighborhood while sipping local craft beer samples and getting under the hood of some vintage rides (of particular note is a nationally awarded Concours Jaguar).

Tickets include six samples of local craft beers at stops along the tour and a choice of meals — hotdog, chips and drink, or a $5 credit at Neumann & Marley’s food truck on-site.

Lawrenceville 2018 Hospitality House Tour

Sunday, Oct. 7, noon – 5 p.m.
Tickets: $15 in advance, $18 at the door, discounts for seniors

Lawrenceville’s annual house tour is a bit different than other neighborhoods.’

“It’s not an historic house tour, that’s not what we do,” Bayer said.

Instead, she and her committee select houses that reflect what the average homeowner could imagine in their own homes.

“We look for tastefully done renovations, restorations, or new construction,” she said. “What people like about our tour is that they see things and get ideas that they can take home and use in their house.”

Though, of course, with Lawrenceville being one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, there’s still quite a bit of history to be had. One home on this year’s tour dates to 1875 and underwent a major renovation long before the current owners ever saw it: The original facade of the structure is now in their dining room.

The tour this year includes nine homes and one “point of interest,” which is still TBA. In previous years, these points of interests have included local businesses or churches, structures that are not residences. Though Lawrenceville is a sprawling neighborhood, Bayer said this year’s homes are closer together than in past years making for a walkable route.

Bellevue homes on a hill.

Bellevue homes on a hill.

Photo by Pawsburgh Photography / Courtesy of Bellevue 2018 'Live Worship Shop' House Tour

Bellevue 2018 ‘Live Worship Shop’ House Tour

Saturday, Oct. 20
Tickets: $15 in advance, $25 at the door

Bellevue’s house tour committee wants you to be their neighbor.

“We have large houses that aren’t really expensive,” said Theresa Gallick, marketing volunteer for the ‘Live Worship Shop’ house tour.

With the rapid growth of their tour over the past four years, from 40 attendees in 2014 to 400 last year, they’re introducing lots of potential new neighbors to the area.

“Bellevue is filled with a lot of brick foursquares, and this tour is no different,” Gallick said.

But she’s quick to point out that the tour won’t just feature magazine-ready showplaces; fixer-uppers have a place here, too. One home on this year’s tour has been slowly but meticulously rehabbed over the course of a year. Though the owners took the historic structure down to the studs, Gallick said they salvaged “all the amazing things” inside and plan to use them in unconventional ways throughout the home.

Also featured is another renovation project, farm-to-table restaurant Revival on Lincoln, a former funeral parlor in a large Greek Revival home.