Brief Summing Up of the House’s History
Dear Apollo-area history lovers: When I started this blog over 3 years ago, in anticipation of Apollo’s 200th anniversary celebration in 2016, I never imagined that our family would be putting this old brick house on the market within the next few years. But that is where we are today. In fact, after only about a week on the market, we’ve accepted an offer on the house, and we hope all stages of the sale process will go smoothly. (Here’s the real estate listing with photos.)
The brick dwelling at 708 Terrace Ave in Apollo, Pennsylvania, has a remarkable history – a history that includes a series of families that have helped to preserve this ~175-year-old building. As many faithful blog readers already know, the house was built by farmer Simon Truby, who in 1843 purchased 156 acres of land that partly bordered the Kiskiminetas River. Today that land includes a significant portion of Apollo borough (much of the land north of N 6th Street) and the southern end of North Apollo, including Pegtown & up to 16th Street (i.e, Simon’s property ends at Helds Shop ‘N Save).
When first built, Simon’s two-story home was an imposing singular presence on the hillside looking westward over his property and the Kiski River. The brick structure was the focal point of his thriving farm. In Truby estate papers at the Kittanning courthouse, family members sometimes refer to the house as “the mansion.” Today this “mansion” is surrounded by dozens of other homes, most of them built after Simon Truby’s death in 1886.
When Apollo’s streets began to stretch onto the former farmland around 1890, Simon’s farmhouse was oddly situated and could not conveniently fit into the town’s grid pattern. So Terrace Avenue was made to curve slightly at the farmhouse property, and the street was extended to lie next to the back of Truby’s farmhouse. That’s when the back of the house became the front, and the beautiful façade you see in this photo at left below, circa 1890, is now the back of the house, partially hidden by an attached pantry (added c 1920) and brick garage (added c 1950).
Truby Farmhouse c 1890 (left) and 2017 (right). The original front of the house is now the back, partly obscured by an add-on pantry and garage.
The house has some beautiful original features, including a grand staircase with bent-wood railings, and simple slightly arched lintels above nearly all doors and windows. Built-in cabinets in the kitchen and dining room mirror the built-ins found in the Gilpin Twp. Farmhouse built by Simon Truby’s older brother Captain Henry Truby (1800-1882) (for details about the 2 Truby houses, see Copycat Brothers). In the basement, there’s an original hand-hewn beam with adz marks that nearly extends from the back of the house to the front.
As shown in the kitchen below, nearly all of the doors and windows are topped with a unique gently arched lintel, which seems befitting of a simple farmhouse.
Three generations of Trubys owned this house over the 85 years between 1844 and 1929. Simon Truby (b 1806, d 1886) and his wife Elizabeth Hill Truby (b 1826, d 1901) were the original owners. Their eldest son, Henry Hill Truby (b 1849, d 1927), purchased the house from his dad’s estate in 1892, and in 1924 he sold the house to his youngest son, Clark Owens Truby (b 1889, d 1959; Clark is the baby in his mother’s arms, at the far right in the 1890 photo above). Clark lost the house at a Sheriff’s Sale in 1929, and then the house transitioned to the bank. Later owners beginning in 1937 included the Baer, Adams, and Hunter families. (For details, see Start with a Dot, Then Follow the Deeds.)
My mom, Rebecca Contie Frayer, purchased the house from Margie and Dale Hunter in the summer of 1975 and lived there for 43 years—as long as Simon Truby himself. This beautiful home has been much loved and preserved in near-original condition by my mom and by many previous owners.
My entire family hopes this grand old farmhouse will find new owners who will enjoy and love the house, its history, and the town of Apollo as much as we all have.
–by Vicki Contie
Follow this blog to read more about the history of the Truby farmhouse and its environs. More stories will come! And as always, you can help to preserve our local history by joining and/or donating to the awesome Apollo Area Historical Society, where dedicated volunteers work hard to keep our history alive.
BTW, Happy 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moonlanding!!!
Such a sad time…..I have my memories of the house and have enjoyed writing a Christmas novel set there. (With some architectural deviations, of course.) I hope that you will share more stories of the rooms and times spent there. Houses are such blessings to families!
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Hi Alice, I’ve enjoyed reading your memories of houses & places. Can you tell me more about your novel? Is it something you’re working on now, or already published? Thanks for your comments!
Needs some work. I added a bedroom but still one bath. I did include a baby grand piano like the Adam’s family had.
I am so sorry I moved so far away…I would have loved to live in this special house.
Hey! I wanted to tell you Vicki that we are loving the home! It couldn’t have been any better for us! Carter is learning new things every day and making our family memories with him every day. This house has so much love for us and I can’t tell you how happy I am to have been the next owners!!!! I am curious of this novel, was it written about the truby home?
Candis, my novel is a holiday story set within the house. I need to do some work on it (still!) and hope to have a presence with Amazon in the near future. I hadn’t been in the house for decades, but as most older homes do, it left a beautiful impression. When I was last there, the walls were papered with something I’d think was of a 40s style. The entrance was straight from an old black and white movie. And I always wanted to slide down the banister, ending safely at the bottom where it curves. I grew up in the neighborhood. I was blessed to be there. I hope that you enjoy the neighborhood as much as I did!
I just want to say that I’ve truly enjoyed following your blog on the Simon Truby and the Truby Farm over these past couple years. I learned a lot about the Truby’s of that area and time, and oddly must admit that until your blog I’d known nothing at all about them. Stranger still, in that I am a Truby who grew up in Leechburg and Allegheny Township (R.D. Apollo). Seems my clan of Truby’s was from New Kensington and Washington, PA. I moved away in the late 60’s, and currently reside in Texas.
Let me say too that I’m very sorry to hear of your Mother’s passing. The pictures of the house certainly are a testament to her care and devotion to the home. I hope the sale closes successfully for you and that you’ll maintain the memories.
Best wishes, and thanks again for sharing this story!
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Hi Thomas, Your comment really made my day! Thank you for your kind words and condolences. And I’m delighted to hear that you’re learning things you’d never known about the Trubys of the Kiski valley. Me too! I’m curious if you know which Truby line you’re descended from. Apollo’s farmer Simon Truby had 2 brothers who lived in along Lover’s Leap Lane in Gilpin Twp. near Leechburg. One brother was Capt Henry Truby, & the other was John Truby. Other brothers were George, John, & Marshal. https://trubyfarmhouseapollopa.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/christophertrubytree-simonarrows.jpg Do you think you’re descended from any of these brothers born in the early 1800s? I haven’t yet researched where all of Simon Truby’s siblings had ended up. Thanks again for the well wishes!
Just saw your post on the Apollo website. My great grandmother was a Truby, I don’t know much more about her except she lived in the lower part of town. My grandmother’s name was Mary, her sister was Gladys. My grandmother was married to LeRoy Baer–I saw that last name mentioned in a post. Somewhere I saw you lived in Ellicott City–I live in Columbia.
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