On the Market: Modern Historic Colonial in Society Hill

Why is this house a “modern historic Colonial”? For starters, it was built 260 years ago. For the rest of the answer, read on.

house for sale renovated society hill colonial exterior front

Older than the Revolution yet modern as the internet, this historically certified renovated Colonial at 231 Spruce St., Philadelphia, PA 19106 combines yesterday and today in one very attractive package. (How can it do this? Placement on the city historic register protects the building shell but allows the owner great leeway in configuring its interior.) | Photos: Powelton Digital Media via Keller Williams Philly

One of the things that made Ed Bacon’s makeover of Society Hill in the 1960s a standout among America’s “urban renewal” projects was the way it inserted the here-and-now into the preserved past.

And just as “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” — a biologists’ aphorism that holds that the development of the individual mimics the evolution of a species — then this renovated Society Hill Colonial house for sale recapitulates Bacon’s widely acclaimed project within its walls.

As you can see from the exterior photo above, this historically certified house — it was built in 1763, 260 years ago — has some modern neighbors just to its west.

house for sale renovated society hill colonial main floor

Main floor

But step through its foyer and you will see that in its main-floor plan, it’s every bit as modern as those neighbors.

house for sale renovated society hill colonial living room

Living room

Yet at the same time, the renovation that turned the main floor into an open living-dining space respects the house’s Colonial soul. It also preserved the original wide-plank hardwood floor and the more recent but no less historic Mercer tiles on its fireplace.

house for sale renovated society hill colonial dining room

Dining room

The dining room, which got elevated, is a bit more frankly modern with its skylight, single-light windows in its French doors and absence of crown molding.

house for sale renovated society hill colonial kitchen


house for sale renovated society hill colonial kitchen and breakfast room

Kitchen and breakfast room

And the separate eat-in kitchen is more modern still. Yet the clean lines of its Euro-style cabinetry, up-to-date appliances and contemporary breakfast-room furniture don’t seem at all out of place against its more traditional bow window.

rear patio

Rear patio

side patio

Side patio

That window looks out on an L-shaped rear patio that wraps around the kitchen and steps up to the level of the dining room.

primary bedroom

Primary bedroom

The second-floor primary bedroom suite also marries yesterday to today. In its bedroom, the windows, their shutters and the fireplace bring the past into the white-walled, clean-lined present.

primary bathroom

Primary bathroom

primary bathroom

Primary bathroom

primary bathroom

Primary bathroom

And in its bathroom, which was once another bedroom, the former fireplace mantel becomes a shelf for the dual shower in its wet-room section. The dual vanities and separate toilet closet are purely modern. Part of this room became a huge walk-in cedar closet, and more closet space and bureaus hide behind a curtain in the suite’s entrance corridor.

second-floor bedroom/den

Second-floor bedroom (den)

One of this house’s three other bedrooms occupies the rear of this floor. As it doesn’t have an internal closet of its own — the stair hall has one just outside it — it can function just as well as a den, as here. Two more bedrooms share the third floor with a hall bath.



And on top of all this is a finished attic that can function as studio, library (thanks to all those shelves) or rec room. In its far corner you will find a wet bar and small fridge.

Underneath all this is a half-finished basement with a wine cellar. The finished part could serve as a workshop, and the entire space (finished and unfinished) can be used for storage.

Past and present rub shoulders with each other not only inside this renovated Society Hill Colonial house for sale and on its block but also all over Society Hill. Society Hill Towers sit just around the corner to this house’s east, and St. James Place and Bingham Court lie around the corner to its west. Meanwhile, Head House Square — the last of the market shambles once found all over the colonial city — is a block and a half to the south on Second Street, and the more recent Three Bears Park playground a block and a half to the southwest, between Third and Fourth on Delancey.

Also within walking distance from here: Old City’s restaurants and art galleries, South Street’s clubs and shops and the Delaware riverfront and Penn’s Landing. And there’s neighborhood shopping, including a supermarket, two blocks west on Fifth Street.

No wonder this house has no garage — you won’t really need to keep a car if you live here. But it does come with prepaid off-street parking anyway.

And with that, this unique and stylish blending of past and present becomes complete.


BEDS: 4, according to the floor plans; the property data sheet lists 5

BATHS: 2 full, 1 half


SALE PRICE: $1,900,000

231 Spruce St., Philadelphia, PA 19106 [Andrew Mascieri | Philly Living | Keller Williams Philly]