The Perks of Poe Way: An Upper Lawrenceville Gem
Poe Way isn’t pretty. Nor is it trendy, or lively, or any of the other buzzwords used to describe Upper Lawrenceville as of late.
But the narrow alley — sandwiched between Duncan and Wickliff streets; accessible only from Stanton Avenue — feels a little like home. It’s a quiet space, filled with neutrally painted houses and warm-hearted residents who would drop everything to help find a neighbor’s missing cat.
Julie and Aaron Young — who live on Poe Way now, in a two-bedroom flipped by K Bennett Development Group — found that out the hard way. “When Andy ran away, our neighbor two houses down made it her personal mission to find him,” Julie says of the feline dilemma. “She spread the word to all of the neighbors; they were all on the lookout for him.” Though Andy was found and safely returned the next day, we’re willing to bet he didn’t appreciate his capture quite as much as the Youngs value their street-mates. On searching for their ideal home in Pittsburgh, the couple says these community vibes are what swayed them towards Lawrenceville.
“I’ve lived in quite a few places,” says Julie, “but this is the first place that really feels like home to me.”
Construction began on the “Poe Way Project” in 2013. By the time rehab wrapped, and before the house even had a chance to hit the market, the Youngs had officially claimed it as their own.
So, what sealed the deal? “Definitely the back deck. It’s my dream backyard,” says Julie. Accessible through the kitchen’s large glass garage door, the rear of the house is surely the most alluring. First, there’s the sizable tiled patio, easily large enough to host a table and grill. Climb the patio’s staircase, and a private, enclosed wooden deck — which the Youngs would later paint a beautiful burnt red — unfolds into several upward tiers, eventually forming a walkway to the home’s one-car garage. Surrounding the deck are several built-in planters, transforming the space into a secluded urban oasis.
Though Julie and Aaron weren’t involved during the home’s construction and design phases, they made minimal interior changes upon moving in. Julie repainted one room — the living room, just a few shades lighter — and installed a small cat door leading to the basement. Other than that? “It’s pretty much always looked exactly like this,” Aaron says with a laugh.
“This place is so much different than others we had looked at,” explains Julie. “We especially love the hardwood floors — they were a big wow factor as soon as we walked in.” Natural wood — and natural material of any kind, in fact — is key. Poe Way’s transformation included marble floors in all 2.5 bathrooms, and quartz countertops in the kitchen and on the dining room’s wet bar.
“One of my favorite rooms is the master bathroom,” Julie notes. “That was big.” Between its double floating vanities, elegant subway tile, and contrasting off-white marble floor and black accents, this lavatory is one of our favorites, too. It’s connected to an airy master bedroom with heaps of natural light, exposed beams, and a built-in wall ladder leading to an open storage loft. Adorned with Julie and Aaron’s shared memories and Pittsburgh-themed tchotchkes, the space emits equal parts privacy and approachability — much like Poe Way itself.
“We lived in an apartment before this, right on Butler Street,” says Julie. “The first night we stayed here [on Poe Way], instead of hearing motorcycles and traffic, we could hear crickets. It’s amazing what a few blocks will do.”
Aaron concurs: “We love the deck; the garage door; the openness. But it’s all still very private.”
It’s not often an entire community equally values personal space and togetherness. Yet, as it continues to undergo major redevelopment, Upper Lawrenceville — a neighborhood that’s always taken pride in its staunch community ties — remains authentic. For its residents, that perk doesn’t come with a price tag.