PUNXSUTAWNEY — Yes, attorney Nicholas Lorenzo Jr. has a fine office among the houses along Millionaires’ Row, but the Punxsutawney Area Historical & Genealogical Society has also cited him for his keen story-telling about one of Punxsy’s most famous residents.
Saturday, Lorenzo was the recipient of one of four of the Society’s Awards of Commendation, for his period-appropriate exterior improvements to his office at 410 West Mahoning St. (the former J. Reese Pantall home) on Millionaires’ Row, and for bringing to life the “spirit” of Charles J. Margiotti, well-known Punxsy attorney, prosecutor and state attorney general under both Republican and Democratic governors.
Lorenzo called the work on the office a refurbishment because it needed a new roof, and with that came a change in the color, as well as the wood portions of the house, thus following a different color scheme that was previously seen.
The exterior work also included chemical cleaning of the stonework and bricks. The work also coincided with some interior work, such as furnace and air conditioning upgrades.
Lorenzo said he understands that the actual structure dates back 1835, “but I do know from the original renovation and work — including the flood of 1996 — that this house was created in three different stages.”
Having practiced law since 1968, Lorenzo first started his practice in Punxsutawney in 1970, and moved into his office in July 1985.
He said a friend, Doug Depp, who was in real estate, approached him about the house, which Lorenzo said he had admired from afar for years.
Before he bought the house in November 1984, it had been maintained for 50 years by the Wherney family.
“It was fortunate in that they maintained it as a residence and never changed the exterior appearance,” Lorenzo said. “I‘m pleased to continue what they had preserved for all these years.”
The house is 70 percent as the Wherney family had it configured, he said, so to transform the house into an office, he had to install new wiring, air-conditioning for both floors, new lighting and technological capabilities.
In its allusion to Margiotti, the Society referred to Lorenzo playing the part of the famed Punxsy attorney and former state attorney general as part of its “Spirit Walk” last October, during which he portrayed Margiotti describing the case of Irene Schroeder, convicted of killing a Pennsylvania Motor Police officer in 1929 in Butler.
As a private attorney, Margiotti prosecuted the Schroeder case — at the request of and specially appointed by the governor. After the guilty verdict, Schroeder became the first woman in Pennsylvania executed by electrocution.
While Lorenzo had also worked as law clerk 10 years after Margiotti’s death, his father and uncle, Veto Lorenzo had close relationships with Margiotti, for whom Veto served as an investigator for 35 years.
“He was with him when he died,” Lorenzo said. “He was very loyal.”
About the commendation award — along the same street of many past recipients, including all four of this year’s winners — Lorenzo said, “It’s very gratifying to be included with other recipients of the acknowledgment.”
All four recipients — Lorenzo, Dr. Michael Vancheri, the Punxsy Rotary Club and SS.C.D. — have their honored locations along West Mahoning Street.
The Punxsutawney Area Historical & Genealogical Society’s Awards of Commendation are presented annually to area residents or organizations who have actively and voluntarily supported the goals of restoring and preserving Punxsutawney area history in their private efforts.