Philadelphia Home: Eileen Tognini’s Historic Schuylkill County Hideaway

The Fishtown resident and art curator’s 200-year-old upstate home takes fantastical out of the gallery and into the greenery.

Eileen Tognini's Schuylkill County historic home.

Historic house: It’s around 200 years old. It still has the original outhouse that was used as the primary bathroom up until about 20 years ago!

Finding it: Dumb luck. We took a ride to the country in response to a “For Sale” ad. What seemed to be a crazy idea—we live in a Victorian-era rowhouse in Fishtown— landed us with a weekend getaway in a bucolic country setting in Schuylkill County, with a migratory bird sanctuary above us and protected land surrounding us.

Gallery alfresco: For 10 years we hosted “Gallery in the Garden” here, an annual event that highlighted the work of emerging and recognized regional artists. There are eight outdoor sculptures on the property now. But during a Gallery show, the garden was filled with up to 40 site-specific installations and sculptures—some large enough that they had to be brought in by boom cranes.

Sculpture scene: Chain Hounds is the work of Wendy K lemperer, a Brooklyn-based sculptor who created and then installed them on the side of the house for the 2008 Gallery. When it came time to de-install these 350-pound steel beasts after the show, we realized we’d come to love them. The “ladles” sculpture [bottom left] is by Gregory Nangle, a Philadelphia sculptor.

Lush landscape: More texture, less flowers. We added stone walls and terraces and created garden rooms throughout. Hit the deck: It’s an extension of the living room, and it offers a bird’s-eye view of the entire garden. We feel like we’re in a treehouse.

Country living: This little house makes people relax and feel happy. Or maybe it’s the wine.