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A House of a Different Color

Favorite Colors
When Pat Kennedy and John Mohler bought their house in Bellefonte nearly two decades ago, they painted it right away. It had been beige, but the couple painted it yellow and orange — two of Pat’s favorite colors — and added green. A former neighbor called it “The Circus House” and another thought it might be a kindergarten day care center. “We get a lot of compliments,” Pat says, adding: “We just like our colors.”

Once again our associate editor, R Thomas Berner, has been roaming about with his camera, this time looking for colorful houses. He thought he’d be overwhelmed but discovered that not counting some B&Bs in Bellefonte, there aren’t as many as he expected. Most houses are the usual two-tone, with a light base color and a dark trim or just the reverse. But multi-colored houses throw out the template. In fact, Robin Tallon of Pleasant Gap says she has 12 colors on her house. Count them.

Berner first thought of the project after driving past the Mary and William Reese house in Bellefonte and then catching the Kennedy-Mohler house out of the corner of his eye a month later. Once the idea was approved, the hunt was on. Berner knew from his occasional trips to Interstate 80 that Zion had some colorful houses and he found another in Rock Hill by accident when he took a back road home from Coburn via Rhoneymeade.

Having lived in State College for more than three decades, he was well aware of the Purple House, which was a favorite assignment crusty Collegian editors would give to first-year reporters. “Do a story on the Purple House,” they’d demand. Trembling wannabes would go forth. The Hallocks welcomed the budding journalists every time.

Work of Love
Robin Tallon’s house in Pleasant Gap has been in the family from the beginning when it was built it in 1886. Eventually, Tallon bought the house from her grandparents and moved in in 1986. The house was then white with black trim and Tallon, who was a fan of painted houses in San Francisco, began the first transformation, using just three colors: light blue, gray and a red. Today Tallon counts 12 colors including the ones in the rainbow fans. “It’s been a constant work in progress for the entire time I’ve lived here,” Tallon says. “By the time you get the whole way around you have to start where you left off.” Tallon considers the house a work of love, adding: “I’m always looking for people to help scrape paint.”


The Color Purple
The well-known Mid-Century Modern “purple house” in State College was designed by architect Philip F. Hallock and built, in part, by Phil and his wife, Kitty, after they moved to State College in 1947. Kitty and Phil, who was a member of the architecture faculty at Penn State, chose the house’s color. The color scheme was then maintained by his son Hal and daughter-in-law, Natalie, who continued living in the house after Phil died in 2013 at age 99. Hal and Natalie both died in December 2019. Hal, 75, was a substitute teacher in various county school districts, and he and Natalie, 71, were active in the arts. They were known as free spirits. Fittingly, they also owned a purple Corvette (first owned by Hal’s father) and, as motorcycling enthusiasts, a purple three-wheeled Polaris Slingshot.


Adding colors
When Brett and Tammy Bixler purchased their house in Zion in 1985, it was yellow. They added blue and Tammy gets the credit for the color scheme on the pillars. Meanwhile, Brett has spent the summer repainting the house and had finished the right side when this photo was taken.


Mary’s Pink Church
Eight years ago Mary Vollero moved her studio from Bellefonte and settled into a church in Unionville. An artist and an instructor for Penn State, Vollero re-purposed what had been an antique store and before that a church into an art and music venue. She also had a printmaking studio and gave instructions in that medium. The pandemic stifled everything. As for the color, the owners of the antique store had painted the building red but, Vollero says, the paint oxidized and turned to pink. Hence, she named her studio “Mary’s Pink Church.” It is also home to eight cats and a stream at the property is home to nine ducks.


The Yellow House
Vietnam veteran William Reese “just wanted yellow” when he and his wife, Mary moved into their house in Bellefonte 28 years ago. It was, as he puts it, “something different.” Neighborhood children named it “The Yellow House.” Bill had it painted three years ago but the painter used the wrong paint. He was supposed to use semi gloss yellow and flat berry but flipped the type of paint to flat yellow and gloss berry.


A Painted Lady
Bellamarie Bregar wanted her house to look like the “painted ladies” from upstate New York and so instructed her husband to use five different colors on their then-white house in Harris Township. “When we bought it,” Mark Bregar says, “it was white, then pink, then gold, gold again, back to pink.” According to Wikipedia, “painted ladies are Victorian and Edwardian houses and buildings repainted, starting in the 1960s, in three or more colors that embellish or enhance their architectural details.” Nearly 40 years later, the Bregar house has earned several nicknames, including “The Pink House” and “The Barbie House.” Mark Bregar calls it “The Pepto Bismol House.”

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