House of the Week: A Mill Workers’ Home Turned Modern Mansion

Tucked between two expansive local parks, this estate is barely recognizable as the humble textile mill workers’ cottage it was built as in 1835.

Back then, it was a duplex of sorts, housing two families and set amid many other homes of its type – part of a village built around the mill. Now it’s a single-family home on nearly five acres amid parkland. It maintains its original stone appeal from the front, but otherwise is a modern home complete with reinforced concrete piers, walls of glass and steel beams. It’s on the market for $4.299 million.

A Philadelphia doctor who bought the home in 1910 converted it into a single-family dwelling. He turned the surrounding homes and buildings into a sanitarium called Gladwyne Colony. The facility eventually closed, and in the 1960s, a neighbor (who was also a Campbell Soup heir) bought the property and tore down all the buildings except this home.

The current owner bought it in the early 1990s and “blew the back out.” Only the front and side walls of the 4-bedroom, 4.5-bath home are original, said Dennis Milstein.

All the windows and skylights provide a feeling of connection to nature, even from inside the 6,500-square-foot home, he said. It’s also filled with light, despite being in a valley. “Natural light pours in from the skylights,” he said. Even at night, “it mimics what it would be like if you weren’t inside a building at all.”

The property has been landscaped so that the woods almost envelop the home, and Milstein loves that there’s virtually no yardwork. “We don’t have any lawn whatsoever – no grass, no lawnmowers, no leaf raking,” he said. “Everything goes back to nature.”

Most of the heating and cooling are geothermal, he said, and the estate is just a 15-minute drive from Philadelphia. “If there’s any quality about this house that’s more special than anything else, it would have to be it’s location – because that’s not replaceable.”

The listing agent is Lisa Weber Yakulis of Kurfiss/Sotheby’s International Realty. She also holds the listing for the former Campbell Soup estate, at $19.5 million.

Photos by Jim Albert.

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