From a spiral staircase to a secret garden, this Society Hill home is a solid brick gem of a find.
The sizable dining room and kitchen areas are ripe for holiday entertaining.
Anyone on their way to a movie, dinner, or an art gallery has probably passed the stately red brick home at Third and Walnut and wondered just what lies inside. If you’ve been intrigued by its marble terraces and lush plantings, its four-car garage and classic proportions, know this: You ain’t seen nothing yet. As a visitor walks through the mahogany doors into a small foyer, she is greeted by a steel staircase that seems to bend and twirl for ages, unspooling like a Slinky up to the sky.
“We didn’t have a budget,” smiles the owner, Anthony, as he indicates the steps, which are comprised of four separate hand-assembled wood panels inset with more steel. “We didn’t let anything stand in our way.” Straight across from the entrance awaits a copper-roofed loggia that surrounds a surprise woodland garden—bigger and more lush than the front space, with five river birch trees topping out at about 60 feet—and provides a covered walkway to the garage.
A stately home office can easily transform into another living space.
The owners prefer to enter in more low-key fashion. After all, these empty nesters built this 5,400-square-foot home on several empty lots in 1999 because they placed a premium on privacy, security, and quiet. An inconspicuous side door leads to Anthony’s small office, which besides a desk and built-in bookshelves, sports a marble-topped bar and a lead-glass door whose grapevine motif hints at what’s beyond. It’s this 1,200-bottle wine closet, outfitted in mahogany cabinetry and rust and gray African slate—along with the garden—that Anthony will miss most when he and his wife, Marie, move permanently to their home down the Shore.
“We go out for dinner just about every night,” he says, “and I love picking out the perfect accompaniment from my own collection.” Sweeping aside a pair of pocket doors, he leads a guest into that grand foyer. Beyond lies a powder room—featuring a hand-painted mural as do many of the rooms—along with laundry and other utility rooms and, should one desire, an elevator. But why bother, when that delightful stairway beckons? On the second floor, the same warm bubinga (also known as African rosewood) flooring that runs throughout the home connects a sweeping suite of public spaces, beginning with a living area that features a distressed plaster feature wall and floor-to-ceiling ebony shelves filled with objets.
Stairing contest: The free-floating custom circular stairway, crafted from steel and wood, spans three floors.
The sculptural six-foot-tall floor lamp, says Anthony, “is one that my crazy Cuban decorator, Pedro Rodriguez, found somewhere.” An adjunct sitting room overlooking the garden brings the outdoors in with brightly patterned patio furniture and a hand-assembled latticework wall covering. The dining area comfortably seats the owners’ immediate family of 15 as they gather for special occasions under the romantic glimmer of a Venetian light fixture. Nearby, the Euro Designs kitchen seamlessly blends burled light wood cabinetry and top-of-the-line stainless steel appliances to ensure the party goes smoothly. Upstairs, a charming light-filled guest room suite features a marble-clad bathroom, but it’s in the palatial master bedroom setup that the expert hand of Rodriguez most shines.
The huge walk-in dressing room is a virtual copy of one designed for a New York media celebrity, while a distinctive and rare onyx from Iran covers the his-and-her sinks, the vanity table, and the rain shower. In the sleeping area, padded silk jacquard wall coverings, an eight-foot gilded mirror, a sleigh bed, and a generous seating area provide every comfort. Sixteen feet above, a cupola ceiling painted to resemble the sky just begs for a whimsical putto and, indeed, laughs Anthony, “Pedro wanted to paint his face at the center—but I drew the line at that.” For more information, contact Mike McCann, Berkshire Hathaway Fox & Roach Realtors, 530 Walnut St., 215-627-6005