For years I have driven past the two-story, columned mansion at the corner of Wood and Hill in Wilkinsburg. I knew it as Gibbs Rest Home and I will never forget the day I drove by and saw a patient in distress on the porch. Not long after that the nursing home went out of business and for years I assumed the building was vacant. It was built in 1907 for $10,000 and was known as the Yingling Mansion. The house is now owned by Nicole Santella.
Months ago, I read an article that the building was going to be refurbished and it was going to be the 19th designers Show House presented by the Junior League of Pittsburgh. Needless to say I was excited. I love to look at remodeled homes, especially ones that are completely decorated. On an evening after work I stopped in and I’m so glad that I did. The designers did a wonderful job. I have to give a shoutout to one of my Taylor Allderdice friends, Evelyn Rosenwasser, who owns Evelyn James Interiors Inc. Her company designed what is known as the family room. The room is vibrant and modern and features a wonderful chandelier that mimics wisteria petals. The first floor is so bright and welcoming, there is something unexpected at every turn. The kitchen is referred to as a “kitchen suite” and is done in an art deco theme of black, white, gray and red. There were white cabinets with crystal knobs and to die for quartz counters in black with thick veins of white. The light fixtures throughout the house were unique and grand.
I took more than a dozen photos. The first thing I did when I got home was to move a few things around. That is the beauty of visiting a space like this, you get ideas and come home and carry out some of the ideas immediately. I love the balcony that you can see from Wood Street. I had always wondered if there was an actual balcony where one could sit and watch the sun set. The volunteers reminded me not to miss the “the speakeasy” on the lower level. Trust me, after paying my $30, I was not going to miss anything. When I found out the name of the designer was Nancy Drew I was intrigued; as a teenager I loved the Nancy Drew mystery series. Drew transformed the cellar into a space to entertain, complete with a bar, seating and great photos of Pittsburgh jazz greats by you guessed it —Teenie Harris. Before I left the show house guess who came to meet me? It was Nancy Drew of Drew Designs, Ltd. What a way to spend an evening.
Going forward, the property is expected to serve as a unique, easily accessible, multigenerational gathering place, offering community members with spaces to gather, hold meetings, attend educational workshops, wellness events and build new relationships. The fabulous décor will be gone but what a great addition to Wilkinsburg.
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