Just Listed: Rebuilt Victorian in Doylestown
The owner of this house, built as a twin in 1895, has turned it into a dazzling modern home that stays true to its 19th-century roots.
Doylestown, as I suspect most of you reading this know, is the most charming of Philadelphia’s four suburban Pennsylvania county seats (though both Media and West Chester offer their own charms, and you can even find charm in Norristown if you know where to look).
So it should come as no surprise that this rebuilt Doylestown Victorian house for sale has plenty of charm of its own. But it has even more style, plenty of space, and very nice amenities.
For all of this, we have its owner, Kim King, to thank.
A registered-nurse-turned-stay-at-home-mom with a passion for entertaining, King also has a keen eye for design. And she has managed to indulge her interest in design by becoming a serial rehabber.
“I would kind of do a really slow flip every five years or so,” she says. “I would fix the house up and then move out.”
This, then, was a somewhat more ambitious slow flip, as she has owned this house for nine years.
Maybe a more accurate description of this project is: She decided she would live in this house a while before moving on. And after visiting it, I don’t blame her for not wanting to just fix it up and move on. That’s because King loves entertaining, and this spacious residence on an equally big half-acre lot has been designed for entertaining, indoors and out.
But before moving on to showing you how, a little more about the house.
This quirky Victorian was built in 1895 by a local merchant named William Mason. The house was originally a twin, which is why you see two front doors in the photo above. But as you should also be able to tell, this house wasn’t a typical twin. The two halves are offset, with one house set back from the other.
Other than that, the two houses were almost mirror images of each other, as the matching turrets suggest. By the time King bought the property, the two houses had been combined into one sometime in the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s — King can’t say exactly when because no permits were issued for the work.
And that work left something to be desired. “Whoever decided to do it did a lot of sketchy things,” she says. “They just made holes where they took out staircases and didn’t bother to reinforce [the floors] where the staircase was — they just patched the holes in the ceiling.
“So when I bought the house nine years ago, the middle had sunk in about five inches. We called it ‘the Wavy Gravy house’” — “we” here being King, her husband Bruce, and the agents who helped her buy this house and are now helping her sell it, Garry Newman of Realty One Group Supreme and his son Alex. Garry is King’s best friend’s husband.
The first order of business, then, was jacking up the middle of the house to make the floors level again, then putting in the needed reinforcements. After that, King set about turning it into a place that can handle both intimacy and a crowd.
The crowd space, of course, is on the main floor, and it begins even before one enters this house.
The staggering of the twin dwellings created an L-shaped porch with a space as big as a living room on one side. “I loved that front porch. That”s why I bought the house,” says King. “The rest was, I was like, ‘Well, I can cry on the front porch and be happy if it doesn’t work out,’ I loved the porch that much.”
She redid both the floor and the ceiling of the porch using mahogany and furnished it to stimulate conversation.
The main front door leads to a small foyer next to the central staircase. That staircase, along with a rear one right behind it, divides the open main floor into two distinct sections.
The one to the right contains the living and conversation spaces — three in all. The one at the back can function as a media room, as it focuses on a big-screen HDTV.
One of the original front doors, visible on the left in this photo, was hung on a pocket-door rail King recycled during her makeover; it covers the stairs leading to the basement. The many built-in bookcases and the crown moldings are all part of the recent makeover as well.
The one in the middle is arranged around a Mercer-tile fireplace. (This is Doylestown, after all. It would have been a crime not to have a Mercer-tile fireplace in a house here.) And the third area, in the turret, has two more chairs for conversation.
The other side has a dining room up front. The other front door still functions, so guests could use it as well during a dinner party. The buffet along one wall is fashioned from the house’s original kitchen cabinetry and includes a wine rack. The turret on this side would make a perfect place for a kids’ table for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. (For the record, King prefers to serve her Thanksgiving dinners buffet-style, using that long buffet.)
The island in the breakfast-nook part of the adjacent kitchen has plenty of seating as well. Or it could also be used as serving space, depending on how big a spread one wishes to prepare. (Same goes if one is hosting a huge potluck. And this place could handle a really big one — just wait until we go outside.)
The modern chandeliers over the breakfast table were selected to match the classic milk-glass pendant light in the foyer. Much of the furniture in this house is contemporary, but it plays very nicely with the more traditional wallpaper and trim. King had to refashion almost all of the arches setting off the various main-floor spaces, as most had been removed during that earlier renovation and no photos or drawings of what had been existed.
A galley kitchen equipped with top-of-the-line appliances flows from the breakfast nook back to the rear of the house. It too has what it takes to handle cooking for a crowd, including an oversized Sub-Zero refrigerator-freezer, two Miele dishwashers, a large Wolf double-oven gas range with griddle, a warming drawer under the microwave and a Miele espresso maker above it.
Behind the kitchen you will find the laundry and the elegant powder room you also see above.
King turned the six bedrooms on the second floor into four. The three bedrooms on the side over the kitchen and dining room were turned into a large primary suite. The bedroom, up front, has the turret.
The former middle bedroom became a large closet and dressing room, and the one in the back became this sumptuous bathroom, outfitted with a retro clawfoot tub, a marble-topped dual vanity, a marble tile-lined shower and a vaulted beamed ceiling.
Clearly, King is quite creative. So is her son. His bedroom on the other side of the floor offers room enough for a studio in its turret. This side also contains two more bedrooms and a hall bath.
And speaking of turrets, the small one off the third-floor den shows off more of her son’s creativity. You enter it via the very low door on the left in this photo of the den.
You have to crouch to pass through this door, whose decoration hints at what’s inside.
But only hints, for what’s inside is a hideaway that has been tricked out by that son. This would make an excellent meditation room or a space to get away to when one needs to just get away for a while. The third floor, which had been an attic, also contains a bathroom and two more bedrooms, one of which King’s son currently uses to play his drum set.
Save for the unfinished basement, which contains storage and workshop space, that takes care of the inside of this rebuilt Doylestown Victorian house for sale. The outside is equally impressive and also designed for entertaining.
Stairs lead from the back porch and grill to this stone patio, again an ideal space for an outdoor reception or diner party. King says that the patio has seen its share of both, plus the occasional wedding and fund-raiser.
Save for a few large plants already on the grounds that King kept, the backyard and the rest of the grounds are planted in species native to the area, chosen by Doylestown landscape designer Indigenous Ingenuities.
Both the landscaping and the reconstruction are impressive enough to have landed this house on the tour circuit. If these photos look familiar, maybe you saw this house on the Bucks County Garden and Home Tour or the Bucks County Native Garden Tour.
This house sits a little more than five blocks from Doylestown’s lively center. There you’ll find boutique shopping, fine and casual dining, and arts and culture galore. And if you don’t feel like going into town, the town may come to you in the form of a parade. This house’s front porch makes a great reviewing stand.
And it should be clear by now that King put not only her sense of style but also her heart and soul into this rebuilt Doylestown Victorian house for sale. This house is perfect for anyone who wants modern comfort in a classic package, enjoys watching the world pass by their front porch, or wants a place where they can invite a few hundred of their closest friends over for a gathering.
THE FINE PRINT
BATHS: 3 full, 1 half
SQUARE FEET: 4,437
SALE PRICE: $2,200,000
OTHER STUFF: This house is under contract, but the sale is contingent, and the seller is accepting other offers.
374 Maple Ave., Doylestown, PA 18901 [Garry and Alex Newman | Realty One Group Supreme]