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SHARPSVILLE Teacher buys storied house



Published: Mon, August 6, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The new owner said he plans to complete restoration of the house and live in it.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

SHARPSVILLE, Pa. -- One of the borough's historical landmarks changed hands over the weekend.

The 16-room Jonas Pierce mansion, at 60 Shenango St., is now owned by a Sharpsville native.

"I want to preserve it," said Jeremy Zipay, 26, moments after he bought the four-story building at auction Saturday. Zipay lives in Greenville, where he teaches school.

He was the high bidder at $40,000, which is $2,500 less than the previous owners paid seven years ago.

Previous owners: Michael and Amy Lucas, formerly of West Middlesex, bought the mansion in 1994 with plans to restore it and rent space to retail shops and offices.

That plan never came to fruition, though the Lucases have done a great deal of restoration work, pouring $215,000 into improvements. Their work included remodeling the first and second floors, new electrical service and plumbing, a new roof and a paint job.

"The major stuff is done," Lucas said. The rest of the work to be done is cosmetic, his wife added.

The Lucases now live in Millersburg, Pa., just north of Harrisburg, and it's no longer convenient to continue working on the building, Lucas said.

"It's just costing us money sitting there," Lucas said, noting that taxes and utilities run about $5,000 a year.

They listed it with a Realtor in an attempt to sell it but got no acceptable offers, he said, adding that his wife came up with the plan to try to sell it at auction.

About 40 people turned out Saturday to witness the sale by Rocco's Auctions & amp; Appraisals, but there were only two bidders.

Zipay offered the best bid, and it was accepted.

He said he plans to continue the restoration effort, estimating he will have to put an additional $40,000 to $50,000 into it. It will take him several years to complete it, he said, adding that he plans to make it his home.

"I'd like to think I'm doing something for the town," Zipay said, noting that some prospective bidders wanted to dismantle the house and sell it in pieces.

The house was built 136 years ago by Jonas Pierce, a son of Gen. James Pierce. The general was a leader in industrial development of the area in the mid-1800s.

Historical figure: Jonas Pierce was the great-great-grandfather of Barbara Bush, wife of former President Bush and the mother of President George W. Bush.

The second and third floors were converted to apartments to house Army officers stationed at Camp Shenango in Transfer during World War II, and the apartments remained long after the war.

The fourth floor is a walk-up cupola.




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