Want to live in a former funeral home in McKeesport? You can (2024)

When Marlene Fait-Schmalz bought her childhood home in 2011, she reclaimed a piece of McKeesport history. The unique Victorian-style residence, once the Richard L. Fait Funeral Home, boasts a parlor, chapel and grand entrance on the main level, while the upper floors offer cozy living spaces.

Now on the market for $475,000, the house at 2403 Jenny Lind St. blends historic charm with modern potential.

“My favorite place is the second floor,” Fait-Schmalz said. “It is so cozy and comfortable. It’s peaceful. There is nothing else like this in McKeesport.”

With its marble fireplaces, original wood floors, and a large deck perfect for viewing city fireworks, this 1920-built home is a hidden gem waiting for its next chapter.

What makes the residence unique is that because it used to be a funeral home, the main level has a parlor and a chapel. The second level is the main living space, complete with a living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom and full bathroom. The third level has bedrooms, a laundry room and sloped ceilings.

The property went from a single-family home to the Richard L. Fait Funeral Home funeral home in 1940. Located on a corner lot, it is on the market with Realtor Kelly Frey of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Pittsburgh Real Estate.

“My favorite thing is the grand entrance when you first step inside and off the front porch,” said Frey. “You see the majestic staircase, the soaring ceilings and the abundance of natural light. This property is so special. It took me a few moments when I first saw it to take it all in. It’s a real treasure.”

Built in 1920, the home was originally owned by an executive of U.S. Steel, Fait-Schmalz said. He sold it to her parents, Mildred and Richard L. Fait, in 1940. They opened the Richard L. Fait Funeral Home. As business increased, her parents built an addition in 1943.

She said as a child she didn’t initially realize it was a funeral home. The family used a back staircase and side door to enter and exit the house. She recalled taking piano lessons as a young girl on the main level.

Fait-Schmalz said she and her siblings needed to be quiet and weren’t allowed to run around upstairs. The children wanted a dog, but they couldn’t have one that barked — so their parents got them a Basenji, an African bark-less dog.

They named him Senji.

Her brother went into the business and owned a funeral home in Punxsutawney.

Her family owned the McKeesport funeral home until 1970, though it remained a funeral home until 2002. The residence had a few other owners until it was purchased by Duane Turnbull, a friend and classmate of Fait-Schmalz’s. Turnbull began several projects to update the home, including replacing the roof and windows. His failing health prevented him from finishing, Fait-Schmalz said.

The five-bedroom home has four marble fireplaces, one full and two half bathrooms, an elevator and original wood floors. Some of the stained glass is original. The house encompasses more than 6,000 square feet and has a large unfinished basem*nt with plenty of storage room.

Want to live in a former funeral home in McKeesport? You can (2)

Courtesy of Josh Yencik

The kitchen is on the second floor of this McKeesport home.

A six-car garage and additional space for parking are on the side of the home.

There are opportunities to purchase some of the collectibles and furniture with the sale of the home, Frey said.

It is zoned R-4, allowing for a single-family or multi-generational residence as well as a group home for communal living, Frey said.

Rich Roberts, a zoning officer for multiple municipalities in Western Pennsylvania, said it will be best for a potential buyer to apply for a variance through a zoning board for approval for anything other than a single-family home. The zoning board would decide what is appropriate for the neighborhood.

“It is solid and in move-in condition,” said Fait-Schmalz. “Someone with a creative vision will love this home. I hope they preserve the history.”

Take a virtual tour here.

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a TribLive reporter covering the region’s diverse culinary scene and unique homes. She writes features about interesting people. The Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist began her career as a sports reporter. She has been with the Trib for 26 years and is the author of “A Daughter’s Promise.” She can be reached at jharrop@triblive.com.

Want to live in a former funeral home in McKeesport? You can (2024)
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