Historic houses ‘brought back from the brink of despair’ the focus of Sunday home tour

 A before-and-after look inside 449 W. Price St., which is on this weekend's

A before-and-after look inside 449 W. Price St., which is on this weekend's "Brought Back from the Brink of Despair" tour. (Courtesy of Historic Germantown)

Sunday will be a banner day for home-tour enthusiasts in Northwest Philadelphia.

As part of Historic Germantown’s fourth annual private-home tour, dramatic home restorations will be eyed from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Barbara Hogue, executive director of Historic Germantown, said that the tour aims to showcase rehabbed architectural beauties built between 1890 and 1926 in Germantown, Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill.

“Five of the six [featured] homes have really been brought back from the brink of despair,” said Hogue.

Among the homes is NewsWorks contributor Nicole Juday’s, which was featured in a New York Times story exploring how it suffered through a fire, a caved-in roof and menagerie of live-in critters before its current owners took on the task of restoring it.

The homes

What follows is a by-neighborhood rundown of Historic Germantown’s tour:


– 4xx W. Price St. Designed by Hazelhurst & Huckel in 1890 for a prominent Philadelphia lawyer, this home features a dramatic porch and restored paneling that had been covered by previous owners for 60 years. Huckel went on to design Grand Central Station in New York City.

– 58xx Wissahickon Ave.: Designed and occupied by Philadelphia architect Joseph Miller Huston, Oaks Cloister started as a small and simple home/design laboratory. After winning the competition to design the Pennsylvania State Capitol in 1901, Huston started adding large and opulent additions to the property, including a ballroom and a below-ground beer hall.

Mt. Airy

– 65xx Lincoln Drive: Designed by architectural firm of Duhring, Okie & Ziegler in 1899, this home was built in an even-then historic colonial-revival style, but featured cutting-edge amenities like the “Kenney Flushometer” toilet. Current owners continue to bridge historic and modern tastes, restoring the home and decorating it with modern works of art.

– 3xx Pelham Road: Owned by a cigar-manufacturing magnate before his business went bust in 1914, it changed hands for many years before being bought by the United House of Prayer for All People of the Church on the Rock of the Apostolic Faith. Quirky paint jobs and gradual disrepair ensued until the current owners purchased the house in 2008.

– 1xx Pelham Road: Boyd & Boyd architects designed the property with technical flourishes big and small, from the carved Indiana limestone on the facade to the two-story bay windows. Occupied by Combs College of Music from 1964 to 1985, the house now shows no signs of its previous incarnation.

Chestnut Hill

– 4xx W. Chestnut Hill Ave.: Oldest of the six featured properties, and the only not to undergo a dramatic restoration, this home was built as a wedding present in 1926 and appears on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in the Norman style, the house merges interior and exterior spaces with a loggia, a screened porch, and a stone terrace guiding visitors to the outdoor swimming pool.

Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 on the day and are available by calling (215) 843-6333, or by visiting http://mtairylearningtree.org/historic-house-tour/. On Sunday, tickets can be purchased at Mount Airy Learning Tree, 6601 Greene St.

Tour proceeds will benefit Historic Germantown and Mt. Airy Learning Tree, a self-described “neighbors teaching neighbors” community-based non-profit corporation.

Separate tour in East Falls

Also on Sunday, the East Falls Community Council will lead the East Falls House Tour from noon to 4 p.m.

With stops at a former rectory and the 3580 Indian Queen Lane Offices, tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of the tour.

Attendees can head to the East Falls Presbyterian Church, 3800 Vaux St., between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. to pick up the House Tour Program Book & Map

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