The phenomenal Vaux Hill in Phoenixville should rightly be a Winterthur-style tourist attraction with a Gettsyburg spin. According to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, it was originally a 300-acre farm purchased by James Vaux in 1772. Vaux was an amateur scientist, but a successful and influential one:
At his farm, James carried out scientific experiments in agriculture, becoming the first person to cultivate red clover in America, and also pioneered the use of anthracite coal for heating and cooking purposes. Accounts of his experiments can be found in early editions of the Franklin Institute Journal.
It’s not every day one gets the opportunity to invoke The Sound of Music in the world of home sales. But Phoenixville’s Old Pickering Schoolhouse, built in 1840, has just been put on the market, and its combination of residential and schoolhouse elements is a perfect fit for a governess arriving to wrangle a posse of unruly children–with the aid of a bell in a belfry and rows of books in amazing built-in bookshelves that go up to the ceiling.
Should potential buyers want more dour literary inspiration, think Jane Eyre. The stone wall around the property should provide enough seclusion for a sad governess who paces around gardens, past brooks and ponds, and sits beneath trees. It can’t get too sad, though, because the 2.5 acres here look defiantly lovely.