Update: William Penn Inn in Wynnewood Plans Get Conditional Hearing

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William Penn Inn c. 1875 | Image courtesy of the Lower Merion Historical Society

So what ever happened to the William Penn Inn in Wynnewood? Last we heard, it had been saved from the clasps of demolition thanks to an agreement of sale between Rayer Builders and William Inn Partners LLC, a partnership that ensured the new development proposal for the parcel it sits on would, unlike the first one, preserve the historic structure.

Well, readers, we got an update. According to the Main Line Times’ Cheryl Alison, attorneys for the dual developers had a conditional use hearing earlier this week. They presented the developers’ project as having crucial “need for setback and impervious surface relief” if the building is to be preserved. Plans include converting it into three condos, as well as adding new homes on three new lots. Read more »

Homes with Names: “Sydbury House”, a Wynnewood Jewel by…Frank Furness?

TREND photos via Realtor.com

TREND photos via Realtor.com

If the interior details are less Furnessian than some of you scholars and dilettantes have come to expect from a home designed by the legendary architect, there may be a reason for that. According to an article on the Lower Merion Historical Society website, Sydbury House may not have actually been designed by Frank Furness:

The new house was designed by the venerable Philadelphia architectural firm of Furness, Evans & Company, whose principal partner, Frank Furness, had by then reached his mid sixties. Whether he was still directly active as its designer is uncertain; the house adopted the guise of the fashionable Colonial Revival that was sweeping the suburbs, casting commuters in the guise of 18th century country gentry. Such academicism was something of a rebuke to the bold, inventive and expressive spirit that marked Furness’ most celebrated works of the 1870s and 1880s.

And yet, there are traces of the architect’s style throughout the structure, namely a “distinctive breadth and massiveness” and a “lightness and academic correctness and an unconventionality in plan that seems to recall the old lion’s hand, even if it may have operated here through his influence over others in the office.”

Today the home, which had been commissioned by Latrobe Steel Company president Marriott Smyth, still commands a presence from the outside as it sits atop property just slightly over three acres.  Inside, several renovations have left it with modern day amenities, the likes of which include a gym area (formerly a sitting room / office) and his and her master baths. Eleven fireplaces and hardwood floors are throughout, as are a couple of wallpapered rooms (come on, makeovers are fun!).

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Developer of William Penn Inn in Wynnewood Strikes Deal with Preservationists

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William Penn Inn c. 1875 | Image courtesy of the Lower Merion Historical Society

Unlike its similarly named sister structure in Montgomery County, which celebrated its 300th birthday last October, the William Penn Inn in Lower Merion was facing demolition and landed on one of the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia’s “Places to Save” lists less than a week later.

The key word found in that last sentence: was.

According to the Main Line Times’ Cheryl Allison, an agreement of sale has been struck between a preservationist group and Rayer Builders, the developer that had initially planned to demolish the historic inn to make way for five new homes:

William Penn Inn Partners LLC will purchase the inn and a portion of a parcel at the corner of Lancaster Avenue and Cloverhill Road to restore and convert it into three residential units, said Mac Brand, a principal. Rayer Builders, the current equitable owner of 527-533 E. Lancaster Ave., has plans to build three new single-family houses to the east of the inn.

It’s still early in the process, notes JulieAnn Murphy, Historic Preservation Coordinator at the Lower Merion Conservancy. The developers still have to navigate the land development process, but Murphy said it’s really the “best case scenario” for both preservation and development. “It’s not often we get to celebrate these wins.”

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Almost Sold: $1.2M Hexagonal Home in Wynnewood

105 cherry lane wynnewood pa

Designed by late Philadelphia architect Henry Magaziner (son of the famous Louis Magaziner), this five-bedroom home was put on the market in April at $1,395,000, according to Realtor.com. Now it’s listed as pending sale at $1.2 million. Located on 1.6 acres, the unusual home features several unique details, most notably an eat-in kitchen with a skylight that looks like the portal to a midcentury modern spaceship. The home is rich with skylights and glass walls.

Below, a gallery of the home.

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Morning Headlines: Wynnewood Is One of the Most Popular Suburbs for Renters

Photo credit: Google Maps.

Photo credit: Google Maps.

Last week we heard homeownership in the area had been slowing down, only to learn the next day that the apartment market in Center City was cooling as well. So where exactly are renters going? ApartmentGuide points to the the suburbs.

Despite Lower Merion Township having some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the area, Philly.com’s Lauren Mennen reports the apartment-hunting website found Wynnewood to be the seventh “hottest suburb” for renters in the country after analyzing 100 of the most-searched cities between April and July. The numbers below may explain why:

According to statistics on the website, the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom home in Wynnewood is $1,443, which is still cheaper than two-bedroom homes Old City ($2,137), Society Hill ($2,137), Northern Liberties ($1,582), Graduate Hospital ($1,512), and Fairmount/Art Museum ($1,495).

Lower cost and taxes aside, Wynnewood has a the advantage of having a “larger concentration of apartments” compared to other areas, all while offering better schools, more shopping, easy access to Center City, and being walker-friendly for commuters.

Wynnewood named one of the ‘hottest suburbs’ for renters [Philly.com]

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For Sale: Three Furness-Designed Properties

301 Washington Street, Birdsboro, PA.

301 Washington Street, Birdsboro, PA.

The “eccentricity of his architectural designs” may have appalled some of his contemporaries who clung to more traditional forms, but Philadelphia’s Victorian starchitect Frank Furness has had the last laugh. Furness-designed buildings with their signature high ceilings, beautiful staircases, and period details abound in the area, and his legacy and influence are alive as ever.

It just so happens that some of these are on the market.

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Unique Hexagonal Home Designed By Henry J. Magaziner

105 cherry lane wynnewood pa

In January of 2012 Hidden City profiled late Philadelphia architect Henry Jonas Magaziner, describing him as both a preservationist and advocate whose “inspirational presence” could still be felt in places like Center City and Valley Forge. Unsurprisingly, his devotion to the area was a personal one.

After graduating from Central High School in Northwest Philadelphia, Magaziner went to Penn but had to drop out because of the Great Depression. After some time as a salesman, Magaziner went back and graduated with a degree in architecture in 1936. He then worked for his famous father, Louis Magaziner, before leaving to practice in different parts of the country. In 1946, he returned to Philadelphia and resumed working for his father, followed by seven years at his own private firm.

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Lower Merion Historic English Village Home Has Koi Pond and Artist Studio

626 Loves Lane, Wynnewood, PA

626 Loves Lane, Wynnewood, PA

Architects are lucky in that they get to design their dream home. This particular Tudor house is located in Lower Merion’s English Village historical district, and was originally built by an architect for his own private use.

Inside, historic touches emerge in the form of exposed beams, and a paneled living room with built-ins and a fireplace. Upstairs, the master bedroom has a dressing room and windows overlooking the street.

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Sabrina’s Opens on the Main Line

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Sabrina’s has opened another outpost of its popular cafe in Wynnewood. The Main Line location is located in the former home of Sam’s Grill in the Wynnewood Shopping Center. It is the fourth location for Sabrina’s, which has locations in South Philadelphia, Fairmount and on Drexel’s campus.

The menu is the same as the other locations.

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Pennsylvania’s Most Endangered Properties

wynnewood bank former public federal savings bank building featured image

Photo courtesy of Christian Busch.

Each year, Preservation PA puts out “Pennsylvania At Risk,” a statewide report identifying a handful of properties threatened by “demolition, significant deterioration, vandalism, inappropriate alteration, and/or loss of historic setting demolition.” The recently released 2013 list includes the Blue Horizon (not a big surprise) and a midcentury building in Montco.

Once a Public Federal Savings Bank, the latter’s modern architecture might have deemed it innovative in its heyday. But its attractive, clean-cut style has since become ubiquitous and is more often than not missed by passersby, or discounted from being a historic building.

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