302 Cola Street - Mount Washington

302 Cola Street.

There are many unique and mysterious attractions here in Pittsburgh, each with a story of their own. One of those stands along the Mount Washington hillside. Designed with an ultra-modern touch, this multi-colored, slightly slanted home at 302 Cola Street has intrigued Pittsburghers since the late-1990s.

Built in 1996, the house that resembles a set of interlocking, colored building blocks, can be reached by turning off Bailey Avenue onto William Street, a narrow roadway that also has a few fine homes with grand views.

302 Cola Street.

William Street is blocked off at the point where the road passes over the Liberty Tunnels to Arlington Avenue due to erosion. It is at that barricade where a sharp left turn takes you onto Cola Street.

A "No Outlet" roadway, Cola Street rests along a short level plateau. Nestled against the Mount Washington hillside are a few of Pittsburgh's real estate gems, each architecturally unique in its own way, and each with a stunning view of the city.

Built in a prominent spot with high visibility, it's the residence at 302 Cola Street that catches the eye of motorists as they pass southbound over the Liberty Bridge. The home stands on the sloping downside of the street, jutting out from the rest and putting it front and center for all the city to see.

302 Cola Street.    302 Cola Street.
The home at 302 Cola Street stands perched along the Mount Washington hillside (left) and
a view of the rear of the house from William Street. What a view!

Surprisingly, what appears to be a huge bungalow is actually just a two-story, contemporary structure with six rooms, two and half baths, a garage and basement. A married couple share the spacious, 3,272 square feet of living space, and their dream home rests on a 7,160 square foot slice of "Coal Hill".

Designed by the owner, an architect who playfully considered the house a "pet project," his wife added, "We thought that we would bring some color to the hillside."

As of 2021, the home at 302 Cola Street has an assesed value of slightly over $600,000. The view of Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle from any window in the home or the observation deck, however, especially during the Independence Day fireworks spectacular, seems priceless.

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Coal Street - Mount Washington

1890 Hopkins cartographic map.
1890 Hopkins Map showing Cola Street in relation to the P&CSRR marshalling yard and inclines.

Interestingly, Cola Street was once known as Coal Street. It was, in the late-1800s, populated with what appear to be ten residential homes. Where the road dead-ends, the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Railroad had a tunnel entrance, power station, switching network and the loading platform of their original coal incline, the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Plane.

In 1890, the lot on which the home at 302 Cola Street now rests was owned by David Martin. There were two wood frame homes in the same spots as the modern homes that stand today.

The Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Plane - 1888
An 1888 showing the P&CSRR coal incline, the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Plane.
Original homes along Coal Street are visible to the left of the upper incline depot.

At the turn of the 20th century, the area near the residences must have been a busy place, bustling with constant noise, choking smoke from nearby locomotives, and very little foliage in a stark, barren industrial zone.

That's quite a contrast to the serene atmosphere today, with a hillside lush with vegetation and a cool home sporting a grand view.

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