Peters Twp. megahouse goes for megaprice at auction

August 1, 2014
A view of the 19,000-square-foot home at Walnut Hill

VENETIA – The not-so-humble Murphy homestead on Justabout Road is just about the size of Minneapolis.

It’s called Walnut Hill, 21-plus acres of mostly green, rolling expanse featuring 10 horse stables, a Japanese garden, a walking trail – no, not The Appalachian – and a remarkable residence.

Among the amenities in the longtime Peters Township abode of Bob and Diane Murphy are six bedroom suites, 10 bathrooms, a six-car garage, and three attractions usually found outside homes, if at all: a pool, a three-hole practice green and a waterfall.

All of that, and more, in a 19,000-square-foot structure the couple used to call home.

On Thursday, the home built for the Murphys in 1986 went for $3.44 million at a real estate auction.

A Peters couple, Matthew and Sally DiAngelo, outbid a number of others, including those with pre-bids. The DiAngelos are longtime residents who are involved in the community.

Matthew DiAngelo declined to comment, but a news release from J.P. King Auction Company, which handled the auction, said the couple will use the home as their primary residence. They were represented by Lisa Browell, an agent with Century 21 Frontier.

The Murphys’ reason for selling was simple: They are retired and now spend most of their time at their Florida home. That makes it difficult to devote sufficient energies to a 21-acre expanse 1,000 miles away.

They tried – unsuccessfully – to sell the home.

Craig King, president of the auction firm, was impressed by the new DiAngelo domicile. And that is notable. His Gadsden, Ala., company deals with luxury properties, auctions that are $1 million and up.

“This setting is just really special,” said King, the firm’s president and the auctioneer for Thursday’s 20-minute event.

He said bids started at $2.45 million and actually ended at $3.1 million, with three actively bidding. King explained that the 11 percent buyer’s fee his company charges set the final figure at $3.4 million.

J.P. King became involved in May, after the Murphys failed to sell. “(The property) had been on the market for a few years and had not had many viewings. We had about 20 view it. It takes about 60 days from when we list, show and get it sold,” said King, whose firm in the Deep South sold 13 Pennsylvania properties for $40 million.

Parting had to be sweet sorrow for the Murphys, though. Twenty-eight years ago, they selected this property and hired architect Joseph Indovina to construct an idyllic home. Indovina fashioned it after stone houses in Main Line Philadelphia, with custom wood carvings to complement stone walls and steeply pitched roofs.

One of its most opulent features is a three-story pool with glass walls.

Bob Murphy was unavailable for comment, but said in a news release before the auction: “My favorite thing about this home is that it’s very user-friendly for anything you want to do. You don’t feel like you’re in a castle or a large auditorium when you’re in the largest spaces because of its design.

“It has minimal walls, plenty of open space, but also a cozy feeling of home.”

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won seven individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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