A Very Creepy Christmas at Trundle Manor
Swissvale home attracts the curious and displays the strange
At Trundle Manor, Santa Claus is sinister.
The once jolly figure has been transformed into a creepier version of the Swissvale home's owner, Anton Miriello, standing with a grin, evil eyebrows and a handlebar moustache that can frighten the bravest of visitors.
Not to mention – he comes to life with the press of a button, blurting out odd speeches and puzzling announcements, bobbing his head and shifting his arms.
"It started out as a shelf in my parents' house of creepy things and then at an apartment it became a case, and now it just keeps getting bigger," Miriello, 27, said. "I have just always had a compulsion, but it's almost a museum as it is so we might as well advertise as a tourist trap because that's an old piece of America that needs to come back."
Creepy is the goal at this well sought after house at 7724 Juniata St., which serves as Miriello's home and personal gallery of all things weird. Since opening it to the public last summer, Trundle Manor has had 77 unsolicited visitors from all walks of life, including an Ohio family of three and a burlesque dancer. He bought the house four years ago.
"We collect things that people don't normally look at or see anymore and put it on display," Miriello said. "It's just to give a sense of wonder to the people's lives – that's why kids like it."
Bear heads adorn a wall in the parlor while a collection of antique meat cleavers are lined up in a row across the room. Collections of various dead animals are in jars while a Christmas tree is decorated with skull and crossbones ornaments.
A caribou head above the tree wears a Christmas hat, making visitors feel right at home and in the holiday spirit.
A child of flea markets, Miriello said he doesn't seek out certain objects but knows it when he sees it if he stumbles upon something new to add to the collection. Miriello said he is an expert of picking through piles and shopping at junk stores. Trundle Manor also is featured on the Roadside America website.
"Nostalgia is a big thing and it's always been a big thing in my life," Miriello said. "I grew up and was into rockabilly and Roadside America is a very '50s style thing to do. It just sort of clicked because I already collected this stuff and it's almost an honor to be a part of that area of society."
He also said he is passionate about the idea that people need to go to places more and experience different things that are "wonder inspiring."
"Since I was a kid, I have always wanted to leave people with an idea, no matter what it was, whether it was a split second or not."
As a child, Miriello would limp and come up with what other people may have been thinking, simply to plant a thought in others' minds.
"I want the house to inspire people to do something different," he said. "We need more of that nowadays."
Miriello's girlfriend, Rachel Rech, 21, has been living at Trundle Manor for a little over a year. The first time she walked in the door at the house, she never wanted to leave.
"I love looking at places that have so much going on and I just love it," she said. "We love speculating on where things came from and who used them."
The couple's first date involved dressing up two dead squirrels as husband and wife. The deceased couple lives happily ever after in the parlor on a top shelf.
Miriello's parents are the owners of the New Guild Art and Design Studios in Braddock. His mother, Suzann Miriello, said she is amazed by the effort he puts into the home.
"He just had this vision that he wouldn't let go of and it's working out," she said. "It's crazy, you sit in his parlor and you feel so cozy and comfortable until you start looking around but it's great what he is trying to do and he is sticking to his vision."
Suzann also said she admires the way her son never lets anyone sway him.
"He always had jars of things and was always experimenting with things and it was always constant the whole time he was growing up," she said. "He was a collector from day one."
She also noted that his childhood room was always decorated with jars that were usually filled with "creepy things."
As a collector and awe-inspirer, Miriello said he has a goal that most artists share.
"As long as they remember us, I'm happy," he said.
Visits to Trundle Manor can be scheduled by calling Miriello at 412-916-5544. Visit Trundle Manor online at www.trundlemanor.com.