Historic Townhouse, Philadelphia Builsing Reconfiguration, American 19th century Architecture, Images
Historic Townhouse in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia
Apr 27, 2021
Rittenhouse Square Historic Townhouse
Design: Voith and MacTavish Architects
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Voith and MacTavish Architects completes a decade-long renovation, restoration, and reconfiguration of a 19th century townhouse in Center City, Philadelphia. Now finished, it conveys the traditional character of the original architecture while producing an extraordinary personal expression of the owners’ tastes.
Meeting A Need
The clients, avid connoisseurs of art and classical music, relocated from Wilmington, Delaware to Center City, Philadelphia. They selected this 8,000 sq. ft., four-story townhouse for its history and its proximity to major orchestral venues in the city.
VMA undertook this project with the goal of showcasing the clients’ art collection, wide-ranging interests, and penchant for Adamesque style, while also restoring the sense of grandeur stemming from the building’s historic roots. Respecting the high quality of both the townhouse’s 1850’s roots and the early 20th century remodeling, nothing about the project is provisional.
Rather than compromise the quality of construction, the work was completed in two major phases. The first phase comprised the sub-basement, basement, ground floor, a new garden, a new garage, and restoration of the south elevation. The second phase addressed the second through fourth floors and the street façade.
Restoring Historic Grandeur
While the original portions of the house date back to the mid-19th century, a major fire and subsequent alteration in the 20th century stripped much of its historic details.
VMA undertook a meticulous restoration, particularly of the front grand parlor. Moldings, doors, and windows were rebuilt based on profiles taken from neighboring same-era properties. Antique mantelpieces, coal grates, and hardware were sourced and integrated with the scant remaining pieces of original material.
The style of the house includes direct reconstruction of the historic interiors, but also diverges substantially in some rooms to nod to the owners’ tastes for 18th century English design.
Incorporating Unique Features
The townhouse had undergone multiple changes over time, including a conversion at one point to doctors’ offices on the ground floor and a residence on the upper three. This resulted in odd configurations like chopped-up rooms and second-floor formal rooms that were a struggle to adapt to contemporary living standards.
Some of the most notable additions to the townhouse include a library, a full-scale commercial kitchen, and a new garage and rooftop garden.
The library was created out of what had been the original kitchen space. Nearly 50 feet long, its design was inspired by the ‘long halls’ of English Country houses.
The new kitchen was placed next to the dining room on the second floor. As the owners are avid chefs, the kitchen was fitted out at a restaurant level, with twelve feet of cook surface, warming, roasting, and convection ovens.
The gardens were designed primarily to be enjoyed from within the house and can be viewed from several rooms. Densely planted, they include a water-lily pond, fountain wall, and connecting loggia.
Throughout the house, VMA included much of the hardware, marble, mantels, sinks, and chandeliers the owners had acquired domestically and abroad.
The renovation was led by VMA’s Daniela Voith, in partnership with interior design firm Executive Interiors and landscape designer Victoria Steiger.
PHistoric Townhouse in Philadelphia, USA – Building Information
Architects: Voith and MacTavish Architects
Project Name: Center City Townhouse
Interior Design: Executive Interiors
Landscape Design: Victoria Steiger
Photography : Jeffrey Totaro
Historic Townhouse, Rittenhouse Square Philadelphia images / information received 270421
Address: Philadelphia, PA 19130, United States
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