A Love Story: A Couple, Their Pups and a Sears Home

by Diana Griffith

“The best couples all have a story to tell about how they met,” says Margaret Sebastianelli. She and husband Ted met while walking their dogs at Toftrees, where they each lived in a condo. Their dogs eyed each other first, and managed to introduce their “mom” and “dad” to each other. From that day on, Ted and Margaret became the couple that walks their dogs together. In 1991, they found a house in the Highlands Historic District — a neighborhood where they can walk the dogs and easily walk to the library, their favorite restaurant, and to sporting and cultural events. Twenty-nine years after their first meeting, Margaret and Ted are now the parents of her dog Audi and his dog, 3-year-old Enzo, who is Ted’s fitness partner. “”He gets me up in the morning,” Ted says of Enzo, who has him walking through the neighborhood and all over campus in the early morning hours and throughout the day. 

When Ted and Margaret are not out walking, their 1937 colonial on Prospect Avenue is where their hearts are. Their cozy kitchen has been the gathering place for Sunday dinners with their grandchildren, featuring homemade pasta and sauce. Ted has held onto his Italian grandmother’s rolling pin and his grandfather’s old trunk. One of the four small bedrooms is a sewing and craft room for Margaret; another, adorned by her paintings, has been a second home and sleepover destination for her granddaughter. 

Ted and Margaret have cared for their home in a way that preserves its history, wonderful memories of living in it, and honors their place in the Highlands, where “your relationship with your neighbors is paramount,” Ted says. Originally planned as six rooms and a bath, this Newcastle model from the Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog went through some additions since its first owner in 1937: an enclosed porch, a half bath in the downstairs hallway, and a breakfast nook between the kitchen and formal dining room. Orlando (O.W.) Houts built the home with stone from the original Old Main after it was razed in 1929; the stone is also in the fireplace. The house is a contributing property to the Holmes Forster/Highlands National Historic District and is No.12 on the Highlands Neighborhood Historic District Walking Tour. Ted and Margaret’s beautiful home is one of many Sears mail-order homes in the State College Borough.

Diana Griffith is a writer, editor and photographer with more than 30 years of experience in strategic communications. As project manager of Home in State College, she promotes housing opportunities, architectural styles, history and other aspects of living in the Borough of State College. You can follow Home in State College on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Diana is a graduate of State College Area High School and the Penn State School of Journalism.

Note:  A version of this article appeared earlier on the Home in State College Facebook page.