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House, family parting ways after 145 years

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

by Diana Nelson Jones/March 30

Keeping houses in the family is a ‘burgh tradition that has slipped away with the city's population losses. You still hear the story but it's gathering dust.

Since the 1960s, more of the kids have moved away than have occupied mom and dad's and grandpap's house. Joan Ferris

Joan Ferris is not unusual as the fourth generation owner of her home, but at 71, it is she who is leaving. Without children or grandchildren, she is the end of her family's line locally. After generations of big families, the uninterrupted chapter of Rice-Ferris ownership at 1240 Monterey St. will close this week. Joan expects to ink the papers to sell the home her great-grandfather built in 1865. She will leave the Central Northside, with her chow dog Bo, for a smaller home in Ross.

Her great-grandparents, who came from Ireland, and her grandparents and her parents and a bunch of cousins and their kids have lived in the house. After her husband died last fall, she decided the house carried too many reminders that make her miss him, plus the stairs are a chore to climb.  

"It will feel funny to walk out of this place," she said. "But it's time for another generation."

A longer story about this transition, with a good photo, will run in the Post-Gazette within the week. Stay posted.

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