It’s not everyday that a genuine piece of architectural history hits the market. In fact, when we first saw the listing, our mouths were left agape at the shear possibility that someone could now own what is widely regarded as the building that started the Postmodern movement.
The Vanna Venturi House on Millman Street in Chestnut Hill was designed by Robert Venturi for his mother between 1959 and 1964 and has been the topic of many essays and even been featured on a postage stamp. More recently, it was listed as one of the “10 Buildings That Changed America” by PBS.
Melanie Stecura, listing agent with Kurfiss Sotheby’s, said that she’s been working on putting the home on the market for five years, and that a home of this historic value couldn’t have found better a steward than owner Dr. Thomas P. Hughes, a former professor at the University of Pennsylvania who passed away last February. Hughes and his wife, Agatha, bought the home in 1973 from Robert Venturi, after his mother, Vanna, passed away.
The daughter of Dr. Hughes, Agatha, currently lives in and lovingly maintains the home, which marked its 50th year in 2013. The estate of Dr. Hughes has listed the property for $1.75 million and Sectura tells us that the family has cherished the home. “It has been maintained in its original condition. [The family] has a real love of the house, and Bob Venturi has been really involved in anything that’s been done inside the home.” That includes the minor details, such as picking out paint colors. “We’re hoping to find somebody that has the same kind of love for the house that his family had,” added Sectura. “It’s an icon, really.”
That’s not Realtor-speak, either. The home broke all the rules of traditional design with surprising curves, beautiful diagonals and perfectly placed windows–just take in those exterior shots for a moment. Each of those competing elements work in harmony to create dynamic rooms throughout the home as well, most notably seen in the main staircase rising above the oversized fireplace in the main living space. They’re also evident in the private master bedroom on the second floor, which features a stunning half-moon window wall with double doors that lead to a balcony. For what its worth, our favorite part of the home (aside from the exterior) is probably the staircase to nowhere–just saying.
The home is set on .85-acres of land that the listing states “is much of the original landscape plan … including an arc of crab apple trees, shade gardens and sunny perennial beds.” This is particularly important, as Venturi designed each room with access to the outside. There is also a secluded covered patio located off of the dining room.
Considered a “manifesto of Postmodern architecture,” the Vanna Venturi House transcends Jaw Dropper of the Week status. We probably won’t feature a home of this magnitude for quite some time.
THE FINE PRINT
Square feet: 1,986
Vanna Venturi House - 8330 Millman Street, Philadelphia, PA 19118
- 8330 Millman Street Philadelphia, PA 19118 [Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty]
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