When we bought Nutwood, we were told that it was built in 1877; it had been moved to its current location from someplace else. That's it.
So I went first to the local library, to look at "the archives." The archives for Edgewood Borough turn out to be a manila folder full of some clippings, and some copies of "A History of Edgewood Borough," published in 1934. In all the file, there was no mention of the house at our address, or any mention of some house getting moved there. I did learn that the piece of street the house is on wasn't put in until about 1897, and before that it was a stream, making the story about the house getting moved here more plausible -- clearly, it was built before the street existed. I found some plat maps on line, and I was able to see that indeed there was no house here at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, though it shows up later.
I went down to the Allegheny County Courthouse to research the deeds. This got me back to 1911, when the plan for the land plots (of which this is #11) was filed by George Johnston (whose name shows up in early Edgewood history). It also gave me the names of the owners of the house for several decades -- back to 1911, though the deeds didn't go back further.
I went online to do genealogical research, and found, by looking at census forms and draft cards, that the house, which had been sold to Maud Bean in 1918, had been occupied by the Beans by at least 1917. But before that no-one shows up at this address. (The Beans would eventually lose the house, in foreclosure, in 1933.)
I also found, by googling the name of the owners from the 60's through the 70's, the man who had, in 1984, restored and flipped the house. Emailed him. He and his sister, who grew up here, are going to come by some weekend soon, to tell us about the house as they knew it. She told me that the old people who lived behind them told her that the house had been originally moved from the hill above -- so it would, originally, have been on the street behind us, before this street was moved in. He told me that a history of the house had been written, by one of the founders of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.
I went by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks library to see what I could find. They do not have, in the founder's collected papers, the history of the house. Darn.
But through looking at the plat maps, and working with the Edgewood histories, and doing genealogical research, I believe -- so far -- that the house was built in 1876, by Alexander Cadman -- it was next door to his dad's house (that'd be Sampson Cadman, immigrant from England), and you can see on the plat maps that at the time this house was built, Alexander owned this property, as part of the property that's now behind it. If you're following this.
Anyway. Alexander, who along with his dad was one of the founders of Edgewood, built it, when he married his first wife. She died, and he remarried, and this house got moved here. From the time it was here, it's been at least two apartments, sometimes three.
And now it's one house again.
I've got three more places I can look; Edgewood was part of Wilkinsburg when the house was built, so I'm going over to the Wilkinsburg library to look at THEIR archives -- maybe I'll have more luck. And the main Carnegie library has a Pittsburgh history collection which also I need to look at.
If all that fails, I might contact the owner of the house for whom the history was written. (Or not; he might not be into hearing from total strangers who bought a house he once owned.)
Someday, perhaps, I'll be able to prove who the builder was, and then the house can be "The Alexander Cadman House," or whatever. Till then, I now think of it as "The House Formerly Known as Nutwood."