Louis Kahn’s Esherick House Gets a Price Cut. Plus: A Confession

The most significant Mid Century Modern home on the Philadelphia market has just been reduced in asking price by $125,000. It is an iconic example of Kahn’s passion to bring the outside in and the inside out. It is also iconic of his residential work from this period (1959) in general, though as George Marcus and William Whitaker point out in their soon-to-be-published book The Houses of Louis Kahn, each home Kahn built was approached individually, conceived with the people who would ultimately reside there.

In this case, the house was built for one person, which is partly why it has had a hard time selling. But the Esherick House has what every real estate agent would kill for: an interior that finally merits that listings cliche “sun-drenched.”

Marcus and Whitaker write that when Kahn began designing the Esherick House, he was newly interested in natural light. This continued as he was still working on the Esherick:

In his work of the early 1960s, Kahn would increasingly explore the modulation of light, and the expressive qualities of changing light…

They quote Vincent Scully’s description of the house: a “brimming chalice of light.” And it is. It really is.

Now for the confession: There is almost nothing I wouldn’t do for this house, buy or rent. I would…well, not lose a digit or anything, but I would relinquish the fingernail on my left-hand pinkie — for good. (I don’t imagine there’s a hardy market for that fingernail, but nonetheless.) I know it would disfigure me, yet I’d be willing to do it because THAT’S HOW SPECIAL THIS HOUSE IS.

Now, I know it’s a home for one person and it’s in Chestnut Hill and single people don’t often live in houses in Chestnut Hill and a family isn’t going to buy a home this small. But please! There must be someone out there who is willing to buy this house before the price drops again. Someone who will love it, and care for it as the years pass, and treasure it.

Buyer, I know you’re out there. Get on the stick.


204 Sunrise Lane