Step Back Into A Period Perfect Restoration

It would be quite a feat of the imagination to remove the verandahs, the Victorian Gothic decorative touches, even the little bedrooms, and return the house in one’s mind’s eye to the steep-roofed home that John Neville knew, four rooms and a central passage with a detached log kitchen. It was not a “Southern “mansion in either size or form, not the home of a Virginia gentleman as popularly envisioned. Yet that is, in fact, what it was. This was the home of a general, a former commandant of Fort Pitt, a man of wealth and education. John and Winifred Oldham Neville’s home was deemed “a temple of hospitality.” Its window panes still bear the signatures of guests and relatives, scratched into them with the point of a diamond. The parlor was the scene of at least two weddings, that of Major Abraham Kirkpatrick to Mary Ann Oldham (John Neville’s sister-in-law), and their daughter Eliza’s marriage to Christopher Cowan.

The interiors reveal this way of life: the little plantation home is also a country seat from not long after the earliest settlement of Western Pennsylvania. The central passage, dining room, kitchen, parlor, and two bedrooms off the parlor have been restored, in part with complete accuracy, in part in a manner consistent with the place and period. Both informed hard work and good luck have contributed to the restoration of the house and our knowledge of its history.

In the dining room the carpet and furnishings are once again not original but in keeping, while the walls are painted in a bright verdigris green popular in the late eighteenth century.The bedrooms are papered in a replica of a pattern of c. 1815 that was actually discovered in the room under nine upper layers. Waterhouse Wallhangings, which reproduced the paper, is now selling it as the Woodville pattern.