Tag Archives: historic homes

My April Fool’s Mansion Revisited

This weekend I was in the Wissahickon Valley Park (highly recommended) for a short hike. On the way back there was no choice but have a look at the place that surprisingly many people actually believed that I bought 2 1/2 years ago.

sold sign

This house is in Pelham, a section of Mount Airy that was one of the first planned suburban residential developments in the country. There is a mixture of detached homes and twins but all of them are set back from the street like in a modern-day suburb, but with cooler houses than most. If you’re a little older than me and used to watch Thirtysomething, that show was set in Mount Airy.

Below, note the inappropriate replacement windows on the first floor. If I lived here, these would bother me much more than the windows with glass missing.


It’s pretty fancy for a colonial! Oh, and there might have been a little water damage here and there. (Photos with watermarks came from the MLS)3255092_103255092_5

But how about today?


The stucco and pressed metal cornices are good as new! Looks like the original windows have been replaced, which is kind of sad. But it also looks like the replacement windows have been replaced, which was the most important thing in the world. But… I think I spot single panes of glass in the fanlights where there used to be really pretty patterned muntins. It doesn’t look like they cut corners with this place so I’m gonna assume that they had storm windows made and are using them to seal the house while the original sashes are out for restoration. I hope I’m assuming right. Also, how do I get to see inside?

Atlantic City again – Preserving the Interiors

Now that I’ve scrutinized every detail  of the exterior let’s have a closer look inside. You’ve seen the magnificent hallway.


Critically, I can’t see any water damage in here since I imagine that helical curved plaster would be especially hard to replace. The only big job to do with this plaster is make sure the electrician doesn’t rattle it off the lathe with a Sawzall. (Ask me how I know.)


Then let’s proceed to the living room. It’s massive. It has fantastic original light fixtures. But you see the 2 holes in the ceiling? There are bathrooms up there. (You may want to enlarge these panoramic shots)


I wanted to get a better look at the polychrome paint on the chandeliers, so I wiped one off with a damp cloth. The paint came off with the dirt, I recoiled in horror, and that was the end of that. If this were my house, I’d immediately take them all down for restoration.


Then there are these built-ins. My friend’s grandparents bought the place and did some light remodeling around 1960. I want to like the weirdness of mismatched styles, but I just can’t come around liking these. Plus, to make way for this bookcase they got rid of the cross set on the left side of the door trim (which is replaceable).


And a sconce, which may or may not be. Paging Ross. Though they put a lot of original bits in the basement when they took them out. The original could still be around.


Then in the dining room, once again part or all of the ceiling has to go. And once again the really bad spot is underneath a bathroom.


You need a better look at that chandelier.


Then there’s the den. In here we have another fantastic light fixture. Some of the oak paneling is warped from water damage, but I believe just a few panels of good oak plywood and a careful staining job would undo the damage. (This photo was from the listing and can be found here on Old House Dreams.)


And mandatory ceiling light closeup.


Also this fantastic desk.


Then off the den is the conservatory or breakfast room. This room is a blank slate. The French doors were boarded up and covered with paneling to make room for record storage, the floor covered with the type of asbestos tile that reminds me of school, and then it got lots and lots of water damage. I’d try to clean up and reinstall the casing around the doors because it wouldn’t be cheap to replace.


Then because this post is already long let’s look at the bedrooms. There are 10 of them. Of those, 4 have very little wall space thanks to fantastic French doors everywhere.


Some of these also have circa 1960 lights that I’m totally on board with keeping.


Then there’s what my friend’s little sister called the spook floor. She had a point.


All I can see is fantastic irregular shapes from that Mansard roof. But she does have a point.


My sister’s boyfriend did this epic house staging.


I also love that the original 1919 furniture just got shoved up here in the 1960 remodel. And yes you read that right. They have the original owners’ stuff from 1919! Given this light fixture, it’s clear that this was a servant’s bedroom.


Then there’s this gem. A closet of light fixture globes!


But where are the fixtures? I bet they’re around. Here’s one!


We’re still not done, so see you next time.