“This Hill District mentor loves getting ‘my arms around’ Pittsburgh”
Jacques Moye’s modern home is his base for legal work and volunteering with Scoutreach and Omicelo Cares.
By Kevin Kirkland
Growing up in the projects in Aliquippa, sharing a four-bedroom apartment with his parents and seven older siblings, Jacques Moye couldn’t imagine a house like this one.
His father worked at J&L Steel and his mother was a housewife – until the weekend rolled around.
“My parents were on the scene a lot, always going out,” he says. “My mother had the highest heels and a fur coat.”
With one older son and six daughters to babysit for Jacques, Vincent and Nancy Moye made the rounds of nightclubs, jazz clubs and bars not only in Beaver County but all over Pittsburgh.
That includes the Hill District, where their youngest son lives today in a striking 3,100-square-foot modern home with tall windows facing Downtown. It has three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, two powder rooms, a home gym, a gourmet kitchen and … a speakeasy.
Yes, a speakeasy, with the vibe of the places his parents loved – with flocked red wallpaper, a chandelier, a wet bar and a cloud of cigar smoke mixed with quiet jazz.
There’s even a leather chair and ottoman where Vincent Moye could have enjoyed a glass of wine while telling his son about the good ol’ days.
But he never got the chance. Vincent died in August 2019, less than a year before his son bought an empty lot in the Hill’s Crawford-Roberts neighborhood. Though he never got to see the room his stories inspired, Vincent knew the man his boy became: a Clark Hill lawyer and certified public accountant who introduces urban youth to scouting through Scoutreach and serves as a board member and treasurer for Omicelo Cares, a nonprofit that works to address economic issues impacting disadvantaged and underserved populations.
One of those issues is housing, and Moye, 47, emphasizes the power of homeownership to everyone he encounters, including neighborhood kids he meets on his morning walks. They want to know how he was able to afford and build such a cool house.
Moye admits his timing was not ideal. He bought the property in May 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was settling in, then spent months planning every detail with Justin Cipriani of Cipriani Studios and Doug Van Haitsma of Shape Development Group. Delays in materials and waiting for city permits and approvals pushed the beginning of construction to July 2021 and Moye finally moved in in May of this year.
It was worth the wait. LED cove lighting accents daylight that streams through walls of glass with views of the Strip District, North Side and Downtown’s UPMC and Koppers buildings, One PNC Plaza and One Oxford Centre, where Moye works.
“It’s a collection of different places I’ve lived,” he says. “I wanted elements of the earth – stone, wood, fire.”
In addition to the house’s exterior, stacked stone and stained wood frame three bio ethanol-burning fireplaces, form rustic steps leading outside and the raised deck off the kitchen. It’s his mother’s favorite place for morning coffee or an al fresco dinner.
“My mother was the inspiration for the kitchen – she’s a great cook!” says Moye, who cooks for himself three or four times a week.
His only regret is that he didn’t include a chef’s nook – a place to sit while he’s cooking and entertaining.
His home gym is a bright, open room on the second floor. Moye spends two hours a day there working out, meditating, doing yoga or enjoying the sauna.
“Most people have their gym in the basement. I wanted it up here to capture the views.”
A balcony and patio at places he lived in Aspinwall and Bellevue inspired the master bedroom, where a glass wall reveals the deck and a spectacular nighttime view of the Downtown skyline.
“I love Pittsburgh,” he says. “It’s not too big, not too small. I can get my arms around it.”
From his home office, whose walls hold his accounting degree from Slippery Rock University and law degree from Duquesne, Moye can see the Allegheny River and Duquesne Bridge.
Next door is his speakeasy, which has a ventilation system to dissipate the smoke from his cigars.
“I wanted something reminiscent of clubs of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. … My mother and I picked out the wallpaper – it’s velvet!”
Moye wishes his father had lived to see the room his son told him would be in his dream house. He knows exactly what they would do in this cozy space.
“We would sit here in the afternoon – he would have a glass of wine and I would have a glass of scotch – and just talk.”
Kevin Kirkland: firstname.lastname@example.org.