|Written by Administrator|
|Wednesday, 11 June 2008|
Kiren House, c.1950
This unique stone house was, for many years, the home of Joseph and Theresa Kiren and their five children. Joe was the son of immigrants from Slovenia. He graduated from Ohio State University in 1941, and was employed for a period of time as a bricklayer, before going on to serve in the U.S. Army in WW II.
Like many veterans returning home, Joe dreamt of building a modern house for his young family. Sometime after his discharge, he moved his family in a trailer to Pennsylvania, ending up on a parcel of land on McKinney Road, Patton Township. The family would continue to live in the trailer as Joe began to design and build his family home; one he would construct out of local fieldstone. The area was full of coal mines; run-off water was a problem for the site, but the mines also provided an abundant source of stone -- discarded tailings.
The whole family was enlisted in the effort to collect stones wherever they went, and they all worked at cleaning used brick for the interior walls. Family lore has it that Joe hired a local character named Riley who lived in a shack near the abandoned coal mines behind White Swan Tavern (behind the current Monroeville Mall). For a $1.25 or a bottle of wine, Riley would collect stones discarded as tailings from the mining operation.
For the most part, Joe would cut and lay each stone by hand; he also designed a mold to create interlocking forms. He was to use these solid forms in building the lower part of the kitchen walls. Otherwise, he used a double wall construction technique. Exterior walls were built of sandstone; interior walls of brick with the space between the walls filled with rock wool fiberglass insulation. Exterior walls were plastered; inside walls sheathed in maple paneling. Joe bought all his materials locally, and he used to frequent Taylor’s Auction Barn for picture frames, using the glass for window panes.
Cream-colored tile was used in the kitchen, and pink and maroon tile for the walls, ceiling, and floor of bathroom -- colors fashionable in houses of the 1950s.
The steel frames of the 4x4 casement windows were painted in black enamel, again a feature typical of houses built in the 1950s.
Working from his earlier experience in using interlocking molds, in the 1960s Joe decided to go into business of building stone walls and planters. He was to build several stone walls in the area, and in neighboring communities
Joe Kiren never lived to see his dream house completed as he was to suffer a fatal heart attack in 1975 at the age of 61. Theresa lived in the house until she died in 1999 at age 82. Upon Theresa’s death the house was sold by the estate. At the time of this writing (in 2008) the ultimate fate of stone house is unclear.
|Last Updated ( Sunday, 15 June 2008 )|