A midcentury modern gem with a place in Pittsburgh history is up for sale for the first time. The steel-framed box, which uses red brick and glass as its main elements, is an early example of the clean lines and simplicity that exemplify midcentury architecture.
Built in 1951, the home at 40 Woodland Road in the Pennsylvania city’s prestigious Squirrel Hill neighborhood is on the market for $2.25 million.
According to public records, the four-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom home has remained in the same family since its construction. Jerome Apt, Jr., and his wife, Joan Frank Apt, commissioned the home in 1951, and it was completed in 1953.
The couple raised two children in the home, including Jerome “Jay” Apt, III, a NASA astronaut who flew on four space shuttle missions between 1991 and 1996.
According to published obituaries, Jerome Apt, Jr. died in 2010 at the age of 87, and his wife died in February 2020 at the age of 93.
Jerome Apt, Jr., was a mechanical engineer who, according to the Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, held several patents, including one for a leak detection system for a nuclear reactor that he patented in 1971, and another for a remote-controlled system for coal mining that he patented in 1976.
Joan Frank Apt was a leader of many arts and cultural organizations in Pittsburgh and loved to entertain in her unique home. According to her obituary, she celebrated her 90th birthday party there.
Joan Frank Apt grew up and was married in a home down the road that is now known as the Alan I W Frank House, after Joan Frank Apt’s brother Alan.
The Alan Frank House was the largest home designed by the founders of the Bauhaus, Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer.
Known as a significant work in the history of modern architecture, the home is now a museum. It’s almost unchanged from when the family lived in the home, even down to the fixtures and furnishings.
Joan Frank Apt was used to living in architectural masterpieces, so when she and her husband wanted to design their home, they turned to another famous architect, A. James Speyer. Speyer was born just down the street from this home and knew Joan Frank Apt.
Speyer was well-known around the world. He graduated from Carnegie Tech in 1934, and went to Europe, where he learned about the Bauhaus movement. Later, he studied with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and developed his own style.
A home Speyer went on to design outside Chicago became one of his most famous works. It’s now popularly known as the “Ferris Bueller” house, because it was featured in the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” in 1986, the year Speyer died.
Speyer’s modernist design is evident in the 4,160-square-foot Apt residence, which sits on 1.5 acres of wooded land. The entry is down a steeply sloped staircase made of granite, and the back of the home has large floor-to-ceiling windows.
The distinctive arched brick fireplace in the living room is echoed in the brick arches over the stalls in the three-car garage.
From the home’s listing photos, it’s apparent that it has been well-preserved.
The kitchen and bathrooms appear original and untouched. Wood-paneled walls still shine, and some of the home’s decor looks as if it has been plucked from a catalog from the early 1970s.
A new owner may want to replace the home’s carpet, but beyond that, not much more needs to be done but to sit back and enjoy the architecture.
Outside, the home is surrounded by patios and green expanses of lawn. It’s an ideal spot for entertaining guests, thanks to the flow between the indoor and outdoor spaces, a revolutionary idea at the time it was built.