Deborah Khan and her husband, Nasir, had been living in a Queen Village trinity when they bought their four-bedroom Society Hill Home.
“We needed more space, and I was always interested in history,” Khan said.
The 2,779-square-foot property was built in 1743 by bricklayer John Bankson Palmer. “This house was built the year Thomas Jefferson was born,” Khan said. “It’s so amazing.”
The home appealed to Khan and her husband because it offered history as well as more modern conveniences.
“I was interested in something historic, but it didn’t necessarily need to be internally historic,” she said.
The front façade maintains its 18th-century roots, but subsequent owners had made updates to the property, including adding windows to the back of the home.
“It looks completely historic from the front,” she said. “But when you come inside, there’s a lot of light, which you don’t generally associate with historic houses.”
The couple did their own renovations after purchasing the property in 1996, installing a new kitchen, three new bathrooms, and a master suite.
The third-floor master suite, which consists of the couple’s bedroom, a large dressing room with California closets, and a spa-like bath, was the most recent project.
While the dressing room is among Khan’s favorite parts of the home, the garden is her most prized spot.
“It kind of has a little bit of European flair," she said. "We’ve put a lot of ourselves into it.”
The garden includes a fountain once featured in the Philadelphia Flower Show, one of just a few reproductions of a fountain at a historic home in Worcestershire, England. Khan said it has provided an ideal backdrop for entertaining, which the couple has done plenty of over 20 years in the home.
The property and the Society Hill neighborhood have both provided the perfect balance for their life there, she said. “The house is a mixture; the neighborhood is a mixture. History, amenities, it’s all together.”
The renovations also provided plenty of room for the art the couple have acquired during their travels.
“We did things the best we could, and they reflect our taste, which is a mix,” she said. “That’s what we are — a mix of contemporary, a mix of historic — and that’s kind of the way we redid the house.”
Now that the couple has retired, they have decided to list the home for sale.
“We want to do some traveling,” Khan said. “So it’s time for us to do that.”
Even so, she said, they may not be ready to leave Society Hill for good.
“Philadelphia is absolutely the best, and this neighborhood is the best of the best," Khan said. “We’re hoping that we’re going to get an apartment somewhere — maybe in the area.”
The property is listed with Kathy and Patrick Conway at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach for $1,150,000.