On the Market: Chestnut Hill home designed by George Howe for $1.2 million

1132 Bells Ext Rear 22
This Chestnut Hill home, designed by George Howe, is on the market for $1.2 million.

On the Market profiles homes for sale in the Philadelphia region.

A Chestnut Hill home that was designed by renowned architect George Howe – one of the designers of the PSFS building – is on the market for $1.2 million.

The stone manor house, located on West Bells Mill Road right off Germantown Avenue, is about a half-mile from where Howe lived in his famous High Hollow house. According to the listing, Howe designed this home in 1919 with the “romanticism and French-Italian spirit” of his own home that he had completed several years earlier.

Current owners Patricio Silva and Vjera Bakovic, both doctors, purchased the home in 1998 as the sixth owners of the property.

Coming from Newton, Mass. for Silva’s job as a professor of medicine at Temple University, the couple spent six months searching for their ideal home.

“I saw a large number of houses on the Main Line – and some of them were beautiful houses – but this was the house,” Silva said. “It’s hard to explain; it just fit.”

Silva said he and his wife were attracted to the home’s castle-like architecture and style. With their kids grown and out of the house, they could see themselves in this home for the next phase of their lives in Philadelphia. And for the next 16 years, the 5,960-square-feet home with seven bedrooms and four-and-a-half baths, lived up to their expectations.

Inside, the home has many iron details from Samuel Yellin, who designed numerous features for Howe’s firm Mellor, Meigs and Howe.

“The iron work on the main staircase and all of the locks are handmade by Yellin,” Silva said. “There are iron railings on the staircase in the apartment on top of the garage by Yellin as well.”

While Silva said he and his wife primarily completed minor upgrades such as painting the interior and exterior, upgrading kitchen appliances and upgrading the HVAC systems, the one major renovation they undertook was redesigning the master suite. They changed the floor plan at the end of the second floor to create a large bedroom with floor-to-ceiling windows,  a wall of closets, and a new master bath with a whirlpool tub, a glass-enclosed stall shower, among other features.

They completed some work in the backyard as well.

When Silva purchased the home, which overlooks the Wissahickon Creek and is adjacent to Fairmount Park, he said the backyard was filled with fallen trees, but they cleaned it up so now it is one large open space.

“It was like a jungle down there,” Silva said. “There were portions you couldn’t walk.”

The lawn has steps up to a large patio, which can be accessed from the sun room.

Some other unique amenities include a gym and sauna in the basement, a two-story greenhouse, and a stone-paved courtyard that can fit eight cars.

Silva and Bakovic are selling the home now because Silva is retiring from Temple and the couple is moving to Maine.

“It was our first time in the area and we loved the neighborhood,” Silva said. “The best thing about this property is that you’re in the city of Philadelphia but you have that rural feeling as well.”

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