Furness-designed mansion sold in post-auction deal

Dolobran, the  late 19th-century Haverford estate designed by the firm of Furness and Evans, has been sold for “over $1.5 million,” according to real estate agent Robin Gordon of Prudential Fox & Roach.

The 16,914-square-foot home at 231 Laurel Lane had gone up for auction on Oct. 6. But the bidding was below the opening price of $750,000, and the high offer that day was not accepted by the owner. “A post-auction deal was made with a different buyer,” said Gordon, who did not reveal the name of the new owner. 

Gordon said the sale process was “very successful” and the parties were “very pleased with the result.”

The 19-room house had been owned by Amy Nislow for the past 22 years. She put the property on the market at an original list price of $4.49 million, and it was later listed at $3.9 million.

Frank Furness began his work on the house in 1881 and modified the design over the next 14 years, moving from shingle and stick style to stone Victorian Gothic. The architect’s trademark style is found throughout the house, from its chimneys and fireplaces to dramatic staircase, ceilings and light fixtures.

The original owner was shipbuilder Clement Acton Griscom, who filled the house with his art collection of Rembrandt, van Dyck, Monet and Cassatt drawings, delft tiles, exotic glass and porcelain. 

The estate once covered 150 acres and included formal and wild gardens, a stream and lake for boating, farm buildings, and a golf course. The house now sits on 1.9 acres in the quiet, exclusive Main Line community.

A bronze plaque at the entrance to the home designates the property’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places. A terra cotta plaque on the south side bears a giant “G” for the original owner.

Griscom lived in the house for more than 30 years. When he died, most of the land was sold and subdivided and the outbuildings were demolished. The exterior and interior were restored in 1990 when Dolobran was utilized as a designer’s showcase. Most of the house appears in very good condition, except for the former ballroom, which sustained severe water damage and is need of considerable repair to its walls.

Contact the writer at ajaffe@planphilly.com.

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