At $300,000, 38-Acre Town Finds No Takers
Two years after going on the market for $300,000, a tempting price as far as townspeople are concerned, this village, all 38 acres of it, is still for sale.
Yes, that’s 21 houses, 14 garages, a chapel, four paved streets, one ashed alley, a water system, backhoe and 1984 pickup truck, all still for $300,000 or thereabouts, with 20% down.
That also includes a stocked trout stream with a swimming hole, a ball field, a playground and, by far the biggest attraction for local folks, a pair of horseshoe pits.
“If I had the money, I’d buy it,” said Don Kilgore Sr., 49, a disabled factory worker who lives three doors from his son, two doors from his nephew, across the street from one brother and two streets from another.
“We just like it,” he said, shrugging. “It’s a quiet little town. Everybody’s friendly.”
Constance Bowser also would gladly buy the village, if she could afford it. Her husband, Ed, 71, a retired miner, is the unofficial mayor and runs, unofficially of course, the unofficial complaint department. Two daughters and a son live within hollering distance.
“There isn’t any other place I want to be,” Constance Bowser, 50, said. “Nobody really bothers you. But if you need any help, there’s always somebody around.”
Better known as Yellow Dog, this rural hamlet nestled in a wooded valley along Buffalo Creek, about 40 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, has been for sale since May, 1985, by owner Jesse Buzzard.
Buzzard bought Shadyside Village in 1980 from an insurance salesman, who bought it in 1965 from a church, which bought it in 1959 from a limestone mining company that built it around the turn of the century for its workers.
“I need it like I need a hole in my head,” said Buzzard, who runs a trucking business in nearby Rimersburg. “I’m 64 and not in that good of health. I’d like to peddle it.”
Because of logistics, it is a package deal. The 14 duplexes and seven single dwellings, which Buzzard rents for $135 to $200 a month, cannot be sold individually, since the yards are too small for wells and septic tanks.
Village caretaker Mark Patz, 24, a state-certified water operator, manages the community’s water supply. He also remodels and repairs the two-story homes, maintains the unnamed streets, organizes an occasional town meeting, enforces a 9 p.m. noise curfew, runs the only commercial enterprise in town, a soda machine, and conducts a head count every Christmas.
His latest census turned up 148 people, 35 dogs and innumerable cats.
Patz, born and raised in Shadyside Village, and everyone else around figured that their hometown would be snapped off the market after news reports brought it fame in fall, 1985.
For weeks, Stanley T. Smith of Kittanning’s Towne Realty Co. was deluged with calls and letters from prospective buyers as far away as Honolulu. Some wanted to turn Shadyside Village into a retirement center, while others wanted to convert the houses into specialty shops.
Of the several hundred people who contacted Smith or Patz as a result of the publicity, about 75 actually visited Shadyside Village. Only one, a West Virginia contractor, made an offer and put money down. The deal, for reasons no one really knows, fell through last fall.
A Michigan businessman now is interested in acquiring Shadyside Village but has yet to make a move.
Smith’s son, Ray, also a real estate broker, believes part of the problem may be the asking price.
“It’s the old adage, ‘Anything that sounds too good to be true probably is.’ They think if it’s $300,000, it’s falling down,” he said. “The ones who do venture out and look at it, they find out that it’s a full-time job.”
“It’s a lot of work and a headache,” said Patz, who briefly considered buying the place himself. In addition to his caretaker responsibilities, he operates a hauling and contracting business and is running for county commissioner.
“I already have one wife; I don’t need another,” he said, chuckling. “If you own it, you’re married to it.”
Despite such reservations, Stanley Smith is optimistic.
“I always say a property won’t sell unless you have the right person,” he said.