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A Montgomery County home that was designed by renowned American architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen has hit the market for the first time for $1.8 million.
Jacobsen, a Washington, D.C. –based architect who was recently named one of the top 100 architects in Architectural Digest, has designed homes for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Meryl Streep, two museums for the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., among many other high-profile commercial and private properties.
In 1987, he brought his modern style – known for his pavilion-based residences – to Abington, several years after he had designed Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ mansion in Martha's Vineyard.
Jacobsen was approached by Steve and Sue Jacobs, recent empty-nesters at the time, to take on this project.
“We had a small colonial two-story house that was boring and didn't have much interest for me and for my wife anymore,” Steve Jacobs said.
Instead of choosing a home to their liking, Steve, a life insurance agent, and Sue, a volunteer at the Art Museum, decided they were going to custom-build one instead. They purchased a four-acre site in the Meadowbrook community in Abington, and began their search for an architect that "captured our imagination," Steve said.
The couple discovered Jacobsen while looking through magazines, and then made an appointment to meet with him in Washington, D.C.
“It was love at first sight,” Jacobs said. “He was fantastic, we were very impressed.”
Jacobsen spent about six months designing the home, after visiting the couple in their Nantucket and Philadelphia homes to get a feel for their lifestyles.
“When he presented the house to us on paper we thought it was sensational,” Jacobs said.
Jacobsen created “A Village of One’s Own,” a concept inspired by the couple’s love for New England. He created the home as a “village,” consisting of five pavilions connected under varying roof lines to make one 4,500-square-foot-plus home. Jacobsen designed the furniture as well.
Each white pavilion contains a different material, made from clapboard, brick, board and batten, plank, and wood siding.
“The guy is a genius and the house shows it,” Jacobs said. “It’s ageless; it hasn't changed.”
The home is two stories and is built into a hill. The first floor consists of the public rooms. The entry pavilion, which is adjacent to the living room, leads to the library and dining room. The two-story living room has dormer skylights, a cathedral ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows. The library, accessed from a spiral staircase, has floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.
The private rooms are located downstairs: four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a study and the library. Each bedroom has 10-foot ceilings, tall windows and walk-out access through glass pocket sliding doors to a blue-stone patio and the lawn. The four-acre grounds can be seen from each of the rooms on both levels.
Also on a property is a four-car garage designed to look like a barn. The gravel driveway acts as a “village street” between the two buildings.
“There are hinged shutters for each of the windows of the garage, which he calls horse barns,” Jacobs said. “He thought it was a great idea to hide the house and make the garage an interesting building rather than a square building.”
After more than 25 years of living in their special home, the couple says it’s time to move on to a new home in Center City for a simpler living experience.
“The home is a piece of art,” Jacobs said. “It’s created, it’s unique. No one has anything like it.”