Morning Headlines: Remember That Shocking House Fire? No, Not THAT One. The Other One. It’s Being Cleaned Up

It is kind of sad when you live in a city whose headlines about house explosions and massive fires demand clarification, but so it is. We speak not, today, of the South Philly row home explosion, or even of MOVE (plumb those memories–it’s good for the synapses) but of the tragic house fire that gutted the historic Main Line mansion known as Bloomfield.

The fire took place in April of last year and the residents escaped without injury–which is more than can be said of the building itself, a grand Victorian built in the late 1880s and refashioned by Horace Trumbauer in the early 1920s.

The estate as it looked prior to the fire:



Now the couple that had signed a lease/buy agreement for the estate, Dean Topolinski and Julie Charbonneau, is trying to rebuild. From the Main Line Times:

“We want to rebuild it and put it back,” [Charbonneau] said. She’s researched and found Trumbauer’s drawings through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and has been in touch with experts in France to track down every detail….

One of those working on the chateau is D. Robert “Bob” Farrow, a fourth generation Main Line carpenter whose grandfather, Henry W. Farrow, was a general contractor who built many Main Line mansions in the 1920s and ‘30s.

“It was his grandfather’s,” said Charbonneau. His grandfather “built it and now he’s putting it back together. We’re interested in [getting in touch with] anyone who knows anything about it to help us put it back as it was,” said Charbonneau.

The parquet floor that was in the music room likely was shipped from France and put down by workers, said Bob Farrow, of Paoli.

“The men who put it down sanded it and wiped it with oil by hand,” Farrow said. “That put a golden oak finish on it. It was a very laborious system, all done by hand, with cheese cloth.”

Farrow is trying to find his grandfather’s plans for Bloomfield. So far he found the plans for a garage that is no longer there.

“I’ve been lucky to be a part of it,” said Farrow, 56. I”ve seen the changes [on the Main Line]. He called Bloomfield “a real estate home” with “opulance you just don’t see anymore.”….

“The library is my favorite room,” said Charbonneau. Its accoutrements were imported “from a castle in France.” The white oak paneling had been naturally oxidized, she said. “You walk in and you know it’s the real deal,” she said….

Charbonneau said, “We’ll have to find real craftsmen to reproduce it. It’ll take someone who has the love of it, with passion.”

Rising from the ashes: Bloomfield mansion to be restored after fire [Main Line Times]

In other news:
• Check this out: “U.S. home prices surged 11.9 percent in June from a year earlier, reflecting stronger demand amid a tight supply of homes for sale.” How about that?
• In related news: “Homeowners are doing a better job of making timely mortgage payments.” Good for us!
A Super Wawa submits another plan to defeat NIMBYs in Warwick: “The preliminary outline, offered by Buckingham Retail Properties LLC, calls for a Wawa as part of a complex with as many as five other buildings on a parcel that abuts Meetinghouse Road and Route 263.”