Tom Yargo will be opening his lovely Tudor Revival home for the Brighton Heights House & Garden Tour Saturday for the second time, but he wouldn’t be in his house at all if it wasn’t for another tour.   

About a decade ago while living in the city’s Mexican War Streets neighborhood, he opened his residence for that community house tour. When he returned home after the event was over, an envelope was waiting for him with an offer for the property.   

Yargo, himself in the real estate business as broker/manager of the Shadyside office of Howard Hanna, accepted the offer and then purchased his current home that looks out over Legion Park in Brighton Heights. It’s a place he said he had admired from afar.

The house, the property of which was originally part of the John Davis farm, was built by Ralph and Elizabeth Clepper in 1927, and they lived there until 1940. Three other families resided there, most recently the Sweeney family, who raised eight children in the home.   

Yargo, who sees many lovely homes in his line of work, said what attracted him once he got inside was that the interior was a literal time capsule. Nothing had been remuddled. All the original woodwork, bathrooms and fixtures and, most exciting, the kitchen had been left in their original condition. Even the large porcelain kitchen sink was still in use. Original tile floors were intact, stained glass windows were there, and none of the woodwork, except in the dining room, had been painted. The ornate plaster ceiling in the living room was in fine shape, and the original casement windows still worked.  

At some point, the Sweeneys put an addition onto the back of the home, adding a family room and more bedrooms upstairs. But even that was done with thoughtful consideration of the original architecture. The house now has six bedrooms and four full bathrooms. A powder room had at some time been secreted on the first floor in space that was once a back staircase.  

Yargo laughs when he says the old girl “was worn, but not destroyed.” That meant he could devote his time and money into thoughtful restorations and renovations.

He first added high-efficiency air conditioning and also had the home repointed, saying trees were growing out of the chimney. Inside, things have been refreshed. The rooms are furnished with pieces he has purchased over the years from estate sales. The dining room furniture, a case in point, looks like it is original to the residence and fits perfectly. It came from a home in the East End.  

Everything is curated to a T, including the many pieces of Asian porcelain he has collected that decorate the living room. The kitchen boasts that large porcelain sink, which has been reglazed along with the original tiles on the walls. He has found new fixtures and period-appropriate lighting to install where needed.

Some things did not survive the test of time, says Yargo, noting that the original leaded glass in the French doors in the living room had been replaced. When one of the Sweeney children visited the home, she explained that one of the boys had thrown a football through it. Yargo laughs and says that will be one of the projects he addresses in the future. 

The Sweeney family member also regaled him with stories of trying to stuff one of the children down the upstairs laundry chute and confided in him another change the family made. Father Time, the central medallion in the stained glass on the staircase leading to the second floor, ran out of time when he was replaced with a shamrock in honor of the Sweeneys’ Irish heritage. They also added tilework in the front door entry that includes the Sweeney family coat of arms. As Yargo does not have one for his own family, it probably will remain.

Yargo has a list of projects he wants to get to. Currently, the front door is being restored, and he’d like to have the paint stripped off the dining room woodwork. A house is always hungry, so other projects are sure to pop up.

The outdoor landscape has been redone; flowers and trees have been added around the perimeter of the large property.    

Yargo’s home is a lovely example of the architecture found in the Brighton Heights neighborhood, which has a large diversity of homes in size, age and architecture.

When asked if he gets another offer after this tour would he accept it? He laughs and says he loves the neighborhood and is happy to promote it. 

“Nice people live here.”

The Brighton Heights House & Garden Tour takes place Saturday, Sept. 16, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets for the self-guided tour, which will feature 11 homes and three gardens, are $25 on Eventbrite or can be purchased at Legion Park on Brighton Road the day of the tour.   

Tom Yargo speaks on the phone inside his home at 3605 Shadeland Avenue in Brighton Heights Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023. The house is part of the Brighton Heights Seventeenth Annual House and Garden Tour, which takes place Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. (Nate Guidry/ Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Susan Banks was a copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette who was on strike from October 2022 until she retired at the end of 2023. Email her at

Susan Banks

Susan Banks was a copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette who was on strike from October 2022 until she retired at the end of 2023. Email her at