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With a Single Instagram Post, an Abandoned Chestnut Hill Estate Turns Into a Red-Hot Real Estate Opportunity

Kristin Detterline | October 26, 2020 | Home & Real Estate

The home’s 3.5 acre front yard is protected by the Chesnut Hill Conservancy & Historical Society.

Philadelphia-based fans of the wildly popular Instagram account Cheap Old Houses—there are 1.2 million followers who await daily posts of beautiful homes in need of some TLC selling for a song across the country and, increasingly, around the world—may have been pleasantly surprised to see Greylock Mansion pop up in their feeds in June. Despite being vacant for years, even unimaginative buyers could envision the former grandeur of this historic Chestnut Hill property. And that’s when the phone started ringing, says listing agent Nigel Richards of Nigel and Company.

“The photo on Cheap Old Houses received more than 50,000 likes,” he says, “We had multiple calls coming in from people in California and New Orleans and professional athletes that don’t play for Philadelphia teams but want a Philly home. There was instant traction.”]

Set on 7 acres bordering Wissahickon Valley Park, Greylock Mansion was built in the early 1900s by a steel magnate who used stone quarried from the grounds to construct the 8-bedroom, nearly 19,000-square-foot home. Its many original highlights include a dramatic marble staircase, grand central hallway, 11 fireplaces, 13-foot ceilings on the first floor and wooden windows with hidden shutters. Outside, a carriage house sits beyond Greylock’s 4,200-square-foot patio encompassing three sides of the mansion. The home’s circular driveway features a porte-cochere at the front entrance.

Richards says that would-be buyers will enjoy a high level of privacy here. The home is situated far from street view on Chestnut Hill Avenue and 12- to 15-foot stone walls surround the perimeter. Only a gated entrance with twin stone pillars signals you have arrived at Greylock Mansion. Another perk? Taxes. Because of the Chestnut Hill Conservancy & Historical Society easement, the tax bill remains low for a property with this many acres.

It’s unusual to find a building of this scale with such open possibilities to customize the layout, says Richards, who envisions a swimming pool or tennis court in the backyard and the lower level transformed into a wine cellar, gym, theater or guest apartment. “This home offers a rare opportunity for a unique buyer to own a historic mansion and install their own personal touches, like home automation or oversized closets, to the interior and still retain the original details built in the 19th century.” Priced at $1.9 million, 209 W. Chestnut Hill Ave. For more information, contact Nigel Richards at

Photography by: Brian James Photo Studio