We probably should take this off the public forum at this level of detail (my email is email@example.com).
There are a lot of questions in your question :-)
Appraisers are going to look at primarly at comparable sales -- considering location, number of bedrooms and baths, yard size, parking availablility, and general condition. Appraisers do not generally care about artistic touches or non-utilitarian improvements.
Since the bank loan approval is based on the appraised value, trying to sell much over that is extremely difficult. To most buyers, housing is more of a commodity (4br/2ba in this school district), which they prefer to decorate and customize to their own tastes.
As for the Squirrel Hill market, Pittsburgh has been relatively more stable than other markets during the downturn, and it's true that the higher-end market is *somewhat* above the fray, and less likely to be affected by unemployment or interest rates. I wouldn't say Squirrel Hill is completely unaffected, but it's held up better than most.
Last year about 300 homes sold in Squirrel Hill at a median price of $230,000. This year, 250 sold at roughly the same median value. It's a little dip, but not drastic; usually 275-300 have sold over the last several years (e.g., 305 in 2005). If you look closer, I think somewhat less house is being sold these days for the same average price. Also, Squirrel Hill includes diverse regions (like Swisshelm park), and everything from small 2-bedrooms and row houses to outright $2 million mansions, so it's very hard to generalize. And low interest rates at the moment (even for jumbo loans) can't hurt.
Shady and Beacon are main thoroughfares, and can be devalued by that for buyers who value more private streets (like Darlington or Marlborough -- very close to Forbes but not right on it, with mostly only local traffic in the case of Marlborough). In Squirrel Hill there's a large premium on setback (yard space) and garages. A house on Shady and Solway, with parking and a yard, sells for $350K, while a similar house further toward Shadyside without parking or a yard might go for under $200K. A row house rental property on Wilkins might be $130K or $150K. (I sold a $150K investment property on Shady not long ago.)
I think that accounts for most of the price discrepancies; it's not that parts of Squirrel Hill are "good" or "bad" (though there may be some value placed on things like Minadeo district, proximity to Allderdice, etc.). It's all "good" -- but different areas tend to have more or less space, more or less traffic, etc.
It sounds like you're focusing on the unique improvements you've made to the house: things like doors, fixtures, and restored Victorian woodwork. Doors and fixtures -- and anything non-functional or primarily artistic -- are unfortunately among the improvements least valued by potential buyers. If you have elaborate gold bathroom fixtures that cost $15,000, but which aren't to the buyer's taste, the buyer will see them as a drawback (he has to remove the fixtures and replace them with what he likes).
Victorian woodwork is very common in Squirrel Hill, and though yours may be much better or more authentic than that in other homes, few buyers can tell the difference. To most, if it's looks dark, heavy and basically intact, that's good enough for them.
If you have expensive improvements you love that are removable (like chandeliers, some fixtures, doors), you might consider removing them before the sale and reusing them on your next house (if this makes sense given your future plans). Then you wouldn't "lose" them to buyers who don't value them as highly.
There are as many opinions as there are Realtors :-) Each one has had different experiences, and so each one will give you slightly different advice. They are all trying to help, and I doubt anyone's intentionally misleading you.
It's true that some agents will price it wherever you want just to get the listing. However, overpricing helps no one. When it doesn't sell, nobody's happy -- not you the frustrated seller, not the agent (who's done a lot of work for nothing), and especially not the buyers who might buy the property at a reasonable price -- but whose agents didn't show it to them when they saw it was overpriced!
I urge you to consider your entire situation: what is motivating you to sell? Do you need to sell at all? If so, how quickly? What are your future plans (another home? bigger? smaller? in a different market?). That kind of analysis, coupled with a very realistic idea of your home's value *to current buyers*, will enable you to make the best possible decision.
If there is a large disparity between what you're hearing from Realtors and your own opinion of value (and $250K would be considered a large disparity :-), the best way to resolve it is to get a professional appraisal (or two). That is the number buyers and buyers' agents will be working from.