The Spanish House, a Mediterranean-style villa in Narberth dating from the 1900s that preservationists had hoped to save, will fall, the borough's governing body has in effect decided.
By a vote of 4-3 on Monday, the Borough Council chose not to draft an ordinance allowing developer Jason Duckworth to save the villa by squeezing four new homes around it on the 1.36-acre lot at 501 N. Wynnewood Rd.
Duckworth, of Arcadia Land Co., said he would thus proceed with a plan submitted in March to build on the land four homes that would sell for between $800,000 and $1,000,000.
But while it nixed one approach to preservation, the council approved another, voting, 7-0, to compile a list of architecturally important buildings in the borough.
It was too soon to say whether the vote might pave the way for a preservation ordinance, said Borough Manager Bill Martin. The borough has no such law; planners drafted one in 1991, but the council rejected it.
Council member Heidi Boise said the borough should have had such a law in place. "At worst, we'll learn something from this," she said.
The Spanish House was designed by the architect Louis Clarke, of Ardmore and later Palm Beach, Fla., in the manner of Addison Mizner, who designed La Ronda, a villa in Bryn Mawr that is also facing demolition.
"Both architects had roots in Palm Beach, but Addison Mizner created the aesthetic," said Lori Salganicoff, historic preservation coordinator for the Lower Merion Conservancy, a group that also covers Narberth.
Duckworth said yesterday that he was "a bit disappointed" by the council's vote.
"I was pretty convinced that it was good to save the Spanish House and create a cluster of sympathetically designed homes," he said.
Neighbors and preservationists argued that it was wrong to destroy the 1919 structure. They pressed for a public park or a less-dense use.