Milan Puskar luxury penthouse placed on auction block

MORGANTOWN — When Tia Wolski hit the remote and those window shades went up, all of Morgantown was right there.

“Views forever,” she said.

Wolski was already standing in rarified air, as it were: She was at the entry area of the home office of Milan “Mike” Puskar, the late pharmaceuticals magnate and Morgantown benefactor.

For years, Puskar regarded those same views as he worked from that office in a home soaring over the city he loved.

And now, the luxury penthouse that tops the Morgantown Marriott at Waterfront Place is going on the auction block.

Joe R. Pyle Auctions is handling the sale, which will be at 5 p.m. Sept. 12.

Wolski, an account manager with the auction service, has already given several tours of the marquee Wharf District property to potential bidders. Call her at 304-777-3945 for more information.

Meanwhile, she loves hitting the mechanized shades on those walls of windows and watching the reactions of people taking in the vistas.

There’s also all that marble, chrome and glass — not to mention the home theater, distinctive spiral staircase and restaurant-sized kitchen.

And the in-house gym and the private elevator that will whisk the next owner 17 floors up to the front door with its beveled-glass accents and ornate carvings.

Outdoor patios and balconies also run the length of the two-level space.

“I tell everybody that they just have to come and see it for themselves,” she said last week, as she stood in front of the windows in Puskar’s office.

“You don’t feel like you’re in Morgantown when you’re standing here.”

‘My co-workers and friends’

Depending upon where you are, your shoes will either click across floors of imported Italian marble or sink into plush carpeting.

Sleek, contemporary couches also bump up against overstuffed leather sofas made for kicking back with an old movie or college football on TV.

The mix of opulence and accessibility matched Puskar’s personality.

He favored tailored suits and silk neckties, but he remained a shirtsleeves guy from Hubbard, Ohio, the shot-and-a-beer ‘burgh just outside Youngstown, where he was raised.

Shots and beers were the family business, in fact.

His parents, Dusan and Dorothy Puskar, were Serbian immigrants who owned and operated a tavern and restaurant that was a destination for other families keeping to their Baltic ways — even as they carved their version of the American Dream.

All the Puskar kids, four daughters and a little boy then known as “Butch,” worked there when they were old enough.

As a kid, Butch muscled beer kegs up the stairs and tended bar. In 1961, he and an Army buddy founded Mylan Pharmaceuticals and relocated to Morgantown after first setting up shop in a condemned roller rink in southern West Virginia.

The company prospered, and Puskar’s adopted hometown shared in the prosperity. He gave millions of dollars to WVU and community causes.

It’s his name that’s on the front of the university’s football stadium.

He referred to Mylan’s employees, especially the rank and file ones, as “my co-workers and friends.”

His friends were why his home was designed the way it was, it’s architect said.

That’s why it has an open floor plan, Paul Walker said.

Walker’s Paradigm Architecture firm, which has designed other buildings in the city’s burgeoning Wharf, was tapped by Puskar himself.

“Well, this is one of the most unique projects I’ve ever done,” he said. “Mike had definite ideas. He loved having people over. The idea was maximize the space for entertaining.”

A view with heart

The auction will be presided over by Joe R. Pyle himself.

“This is going to be an exciting one,” said Pyle, who gaveled his first auction at the age of 16 and has been at it ever since.

“And it’s going to be a great opportunity for someone looking for a unique place to live or have a high-end business there. It’s really the only one of its kind in the area.”

In the meantime, there’s also the unique personality of the person who lived there first.

One of the penthouse’s sweeping views takes in Oak Grove Cemetery.

A visitor looking out the proper window in the proper direction can spy the black marble of Puskar’s mausoleum there. He was 77 when he lost a lengthy battle to cancer in October 2011.

He had two wishes on his deathbed: He wanted to be buried in Morgantown, in a spot where he could still see his home.

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