Just Listed: Vince Fumo’s Mansion in Spring Garden
This Gilded Age grand dame looks like a million bucks and sells for about four times that. But think of all the money you could raise hosting events here.
Are you one of those rainmakers who has a gift for shaking money out of trees?
Former State Senator Vince Fumo had that gift in spades. One of the beneficiaries was a nonprofit he founded known for most of its existence as Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods.
According to the federal indictment that resulted in his conviction on 137 counts of corruption in 2009, Fumo raised tens of millions of dollars for the organization. Much of it was put to very good use. Some of it, however, wound up outfitting this mansion in Spring Garden. And, according to the same indictment, he also used Citizens Alliance staff and employees on the State Senate payroll to perform personal services at this and some other properties he owned.
All that, however, is now water under the bridge. Fumo spent four years in federal prison for his misdeeds and paid a hefty fine. The Smartest Man in Harrisburg has kept a low profile ever since. And with all the things that Vince Fumo’s house for sale has to offer, keeping a low profile would be ridiculously easy.
So, for that matter, would be keeping a very high one.
Fumo purchased this house in 1994 and promptly went to work restoring it to the original splendor it had when it was built in 1885 for fabric magnate Samuel Fleisher. Fortunately, neither its service for several decades as a convent nor its subdivision into apartments afterward seriously damaged the original Gilded Age details and decor of this house. Sure, restoring all this cost money, but it’s quite likely that even more went into the additions and upgrades he made to the place.
“This house, when he restored it, was made to entertain,” says its listing agent, Melanie Stecura of Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty. And you will see that part of the house shortly. But first, let’s look at the spaces made mainly for domestic affairs.
Those consist of six bedrooms, seven full baths and two other spaces on the upper three floors.
One of those two other spaces was originally this house’s ballroom. (Clearly, Fleisher enjoyed entertaining as well.) Fumo converted this room into a spacious home office. In addition to a huge bay-window alcove overlooking the rear terrace, this room has elegant original woodwork and detailing and one of this house’s seven fireplaces.
The ballroom-turned-home-office shares the second floor with the sumptuous primary-bedroom suite. Houses in Gladwyne wish they had this level of refinement in their detailing. And like the one in the home office, its fireplace is purely decorative. (So is the fireplace in one of the other four bedrooms on the third floor.)
The primary suite also has a large walk-in closet and dressing room along with two full bathrooms. The one pictured here has a luxurious soaking tub and dual vanities.
What looks like a skylight at the top of the main staircase isn’t, for there is one more floor above it. That floor houses a game room with a working stove in its fireplace and what appears to be a wet bar adjacent to it (through the doorway in this photo).
And behind the game room is a large roof deck with great views of Center City. The pilot house at the back of the deck contains the elevator that serves all six of this house’s floors, one of the additions Fumo made to it.
The main floor, of course, serves both domestic and public functions. Its grand foyer features beveled and leaded glass windows over the vestibule doors and original gas lamps modified for electric service.
The dining room lies just off the foyer. It has a bright color scheme, a custom chandelier and a decorative marble fireplace.
At the back of the main floor, the reception room has another elegant chandelier, a coffered ceiling, paneled wainscoting and a working fireplace.
In between these two rooms sits the kitchen, one of the modifications Fumo made to the house. This modern kitchen stands out from many throwback kitchens in having cabinetry that is actually appropriate for the period when the house was built.
It also has a restaurant-quality range and plenty of storage and counter space. A butler’s pantry and solarium for casual dining lie behind the kitchen. While Stecura says this room could use updating, about the only thing I’d do with it is find a fridge that can accommodate paneling that makes it stick out from the overall decor less.
The powder room on the main floor has gorgeous original wallpaper and wainscoting.
That restaurant-quality range in the main-floor kitchen can handle a smaller dinner party. The actual restaurant kitchen one floor below can handle a large one, or catering for a big-ticket fundraiser.
In fact, the entire lower level was designed for entertaining on a large scale. It also has a media room and den with a working fireplace and large folding doors leading out to the rear terrace.
That terrace, Stecura says, can easily accommodate several hundred guests. “You need that backup kitchen if you’re going to entertain on the scale that he did,” says Stecura. It also has a hot tub for when you want to relax by yourself, relax with friends or throw a wild(er) large party.
And there’s one more floor below this. The basement contains a two-car garage, a shooting range, a wine room and the house’s original vault.
Given everything this house contains, you may not want to leave it if you buy it. But then you’d be depriving yourself of the many attractions and great restaurants all around you, not to mention the Philadelphia Museum of Art just a few blocks away.
According to The Inquirer’s story on this house, when Vince Fumo’s house for sale was listed around the time he went off to do time, it carried a price tag of $7 million to help defray his legal bills. He got no takers then. Nor did this house find a buyer when it was listed for $5.5 million in 2010.
It carries a more reasonable price tag now. “I did an extensive marketing analysis,” says Stecura. “This is where we felt it was appropriately priced, not to sit on the market forever but to actually sell.”
To find out what “this” is, just jump to “The Fine Print” below. I can, however, say here that it’s a good bit more than the $305,120 the Board of Revision of Taxes said it was worth in 2008, some years after he had completed the renovations and upgrades. That valuation touched off another scandal that led to the ousting of a Fumo ally from the board and then-Mayor Michael Nutter’s attempt to do away with the BRT entirely. And a look through the public tax records for this house shows why the city’s property-assessment system needed major reform.
Fumo isn’t going on the record with why he’s selling now, but Stecura will gladly speak for him: “He’s 79. He doesn’t need that big of a place anymore. So he’s downsizing. He wants to sell this and find something smaller, something more appropriate to his needs now.”
THE FINE PRINT
BATHS: 7 full, 3 half
SQUARE FEET: 9,745
SALE PRICE: $3,950,000
2220 Green St., Philadelphia, PA 19130 [Melanie Stecura | Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty]