Who doesn’t love Mister Rogers?
Fred Rogers, the beloved host of the long-running kids’ TV show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” died in 2003, but his warm, neighborly vibes will live on forever. And if you’ve ever wondered what his real-life house and neighborhood were like, you can now get a glimpse. His former house was recently listed for sale for $850,000.
Just to be clear, this 3,700-square-foot house isn’t the one where you saw Rogers stroll in, don a sensible cardigan, and entertain the under-5 set with puppets and drop-in guests like the friendly mailman, Mr. McFeely. (For the record, that house was based on the one in Latrobe, PA, where Rogers grew up.)
This century-old, five-bedroom, three-bath abode—located in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh—is where Rogers lived in the late 1950s and early ’60s with his wife, Joanne, before he got his big break in children’s TV programming.
During his time in this house, Rogers was working as a puppeteer and organist while getting a degree from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. According to a birth announcement that’s included in the home’s listing, the family lived here when the couple’s youngest son, John, was born in 1961. They moved in 1966.
According to a report in Next Pittsburgh, Rogers was known to perform puppet shows for local kids here, and he considered this home to be his favorite among the places he lived in the Steel City area.
At 100 years old, this brick house is a bit of a relic, but it’s been updated throughout with a quiet color scheme, lovely built-in shelves, and lots of closets.
Still, potential owners might be wondering if the price is right for a house this age, and how life in this Pittsburgh enclave has changed since Rogers resided here. We’ve got all the neighborly details.
Will Mister Rogers’ home draw a crowd?
According to Linda Corcoran, the real estate agent with Coldwell Banker who holds the listing, the interior of the bright and sunny home was just painted, and the most recent owner installed new hardwood floors throughout the first floor, including the living room, dining room, and den.
Along with the excellent condition of the home, Rogers’ reputation as a gentle, caring soul has attracted tons of attention—in terms of media buzz and eager home buyers alike.
“It has been surprising to me how many media stations have reached out to me since this house was listed, and the impact Mister Rogers has had on the world. He reached international status, and so has Squirrel Hill,” says Corcoran. “We had 16 showings in two days and multiple offers, and now an accepted bid.”
Other agents agree that this house is likely to move fast, given its fame, condition, and price.
“What a gem,” says Cedric Stewart, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties in Washington, DC. In fact, he’d seriously consider moving in himself, he admits, after updating the kitchen and some of the decor details.
“This home is in surprisingly good shape, considering its age, and the amount of space and charm the place provides could certainly be worth the $850,000 price tag,” he says. “Those who grew up watching ‘Mister Rogers’ might be further compelled to pay the premium associated with this property and its unique history.”
What Rogers’ neighborhood is like today
Still, what would “home” feel like outside the confines of this house? The neighborhood, after all, is what the “Mister Rogers” show was all about. And Squirrel Hill has changed a lot since Rogers lived in the area.
“Trolleys have been gone for a long time, and I don’t think driverless cars were something anyone thought of,” says Corcoran.
Since Pittsburgh is a technology hub with cutting-edge medical research facilities, “this has brought in many qualified buyers relocating to Pittsburgh, wanting to live in Squirrel Hill,” Corcoran continues. “The majority of houses are not new, but the established neighborhood offers architecture and charm, tree-lined sidewalks, and walkability—all features buyers want. They love the convenience to work and play, and the close vicinity to three major parks.”
Today’s Squirrel Hill is also a multicultural neighborhood, one that was rocked by a shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in October 2018, which killed 11 people.
“This tragic shooting rocked the neighborhood, but Squirrel Hill was determined to remember the deceased, overcome, and stay strong,” Corcoran recalls. “A logo with the Jewish Star of David resembling a Steeler logo with a message ‘Stronger Than Hate’ was seen and worn everywhere. Mister Rogers once said in a video that he learned from his mother that in a crisis situation, ‘find the helpers.’ The helpers found Pittsburgh.”
Even though the memory of that shooting still lingers, Squirrel Hill is coveted among buyers as a safe neighborhood for families who, in this frenzied housing market, must fight to get the edge over other buyers.
“The lack of housing, especially houses that are updated, is frustrating for buyers having to compete and pay over asking,” Corcoran continues. “Squirrel Hill has an aging population, and owners love their neighborhood and don’t want to leave, so moving up or downsizing is [hard] since many homes needed are not single-story houses. There is also a need for houses that can accommodate multiple generations, as some family members will visit and stay for months to help out.”
Nonetheless, “Even though there are and always will be challenges, Squirrel Hill is a beautiful, friendly, diverse neighborhood,” Corcoran concludes. “I think Mister Rogers would still be proud.”