Husband and wife Leslie Vincen and Dan Wintermantel have occupied Monterey Street in the Mexican War Streets in multiple ways. They moved to Pittsburgh nearly 14 years ago and just finished “rehabbing” the fourth building on their block. The pair is drawn to structurally unsound properties. “We typically fix them up and fold them on a hobby basis,” says Wintermantel. “But, this last one was for us.” Vincen and Wintermantel chose 1521 Monterey Street, a commercial building with good bones, but no roof, for 30 years. Built around 1860, the 8,000-square-foot space was once a candy factory and the former site of Bidwell Training Center with upper-floor residences. The couple lived next door to the condemned building for some time before making a move after it was announced the city slated to demolish it last spring. “Nothing existed except the shell of the building,” says Wintermantel. “We started construction June 17, 2013 to turn it into a 2,300-square-foot residence and moved in the first week of January 2014.” During construction, bricks from the partial demolition were used as fill. And, the floor plans were kept as open as possible, with a spiral staircase from the third-floor deck, which leads to a rooftop deck, providing a 360-degree view of Pittsburgh. “We wanted to prevent another missing tooth on the block,” he says. “The city and the neighborhood have been very good to us. We’ve benefited greatly from, first of all, the opportunity, the affordability, and we’ve had good luck with a contractor.” When asked what’s next for the house hunters, Wintermantel says, “We might take a break for a while. This neighborhood is seeing a lot of activity because it’s become increasingly desirable. We plan to enjoy.” Well-deserved!

+ With the help of John D. Francona, RA, LEED AP, Astorino, and David Menk of Premier Renovations, this couple created their dream home. For more photos from the Monterey Street house project, visit

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