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Property Details: Welcome to Woodcrest Manor!     


Property Details: Welcome to Woodcrest Manor!
Go Back Print  
Property Information
Welcome to Woodcrest Manor!
1708 Old Welsh Road
Huntingdon Valley, PA
Find it with Google™ Maps!
Price: $1,199,000
Bedrooms: 6
Bathrooms: 5.5
Square Feet: 5,843
Lot Description/Acreage:
5.0
Year Built:
1908
Architect/Builder:
Brockie & Hastings
Architectural Style:
Colonial Revival
(c.1880-1955)
 
Contact Information
Name: Scott Laughlin
Phone: 215-275-1685
Email: Send an email...
Website: Visit the website...
    Historic real estate listing for sale in Huntingdon Valley, PA
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Click for a larger image! Historic real estate listing for sale in Huntingdon Valley, PA Click for a larger image! Historic real estate listing for sale in Huntingdon Valley, PA
Click for a larger image! Historic real estate listing for sale in Huntingdon Valley, PA Click for a larger image! Historic real estate listing for sale in Huntingdon Valley, PA
Click for a larger image! Historic real estate listing for sale in Huntingdon Valley, PA Click for a larger image! Historic real estate listing for sale in Huntingdon Valley, PA
Click for a larger image! Historic real estate listing for sale in Huntingdon Valley, PA Click for a larger image! Historic real estate listing for sale in Huntingdon Valley, PA
Click for a larger image! Historic real estate listing for sale in Huntingdon Valley, PA Click for a larger image! Historic real estate listing for sale in Huntingdon Valley, PA
 
Property History
As is my nature, please allow me to provide you with yet another magical history tour before talking about Woodcrest Manor!

So, as is my nature, before I tell you about the property, time to take a two hundred-year journey into the past to discuss how, yet another prominent Philadelphia family, made its fortunes and ultimately created the “school” for which my listing was constructed.

This tour is all about the Seybert family and the particular direction it’s descendant took towards the welfare & well-being of indigent children in the City of Philadelphia (and still does to this day!) and to Social Work in general.

So we journey back to the start of America, with a gentleman by the name of Adam Seybert. In 1793, Mr. Seybert graduated with a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He then continued his studies throughout Europe, finally enrolling in the Ecole de Mines in Paris focusing on minerology. He returned to Philadelphia, and began a long career as a “chemist” creating medical compounds & drugs of the day. He also maintained a strong passion in minerology and amassed one of the largest collections of minerals in the world.

In 1798, Adam Seybert married Maria Sarah Pepper, the daughter of a wealthy Philadelphia brewer.

Henry Seybert was born in 1801 and unfortunately, his Mother passed away during childbirth. Adam Seybert was left to be both Father & Mother to an infant Son.

In 1809, when Henry Seybert was only 8 years old, his Father became a member of Congress and they moved to Washington D.C. where he served for three consecutive terms, a break of 2 years, then for one more term.

In 1819, both Father & Son moved to Paris where Henry was enrolled in his Father’s alma mater, the Ecoles des Mines and followed in his Father’s footsteps with a degree in Minerology. Upon his graduation, they returned to Philadelphia where both Father & Son became world leaders in the field of minerals. The two were inseparable, and another point was that both Father & Son were members of the American Philosophical Society, with Henry being the youngest member ever inducted at the age of 22.

In 1824, the two returned to Paris, and the Father passed away in 1825. At the young age of 24, Henry Seybert, an only child of a wealthy mineralogist & chemist inherited a “vast fortune” of $300,000. I could take pages to provide further history regarding Henry Seybert, but I shall condense it into a few short paragraphs so that I may share the details about the house established in his honor!

With vast wealth comes great responsibility, and Henry Seybert soon focused the majority of his efforts on increasing his fortunes for the greater good.

Henry Seybert never married, and he soon discontinued his business practices of minerology and chemistry. He traveled frequently, but finally settled back in downtown Philadelphia in the later half of the 19th century. There are records of him establishing a “soft drink” business to help reduce the consumption of alcoholic beverages. He also ran a bakery to improve the quality of bread in Philadelphia.

There are three key charitable contributions that are worthy of note.

First, Henry Seybert donated the entire cost for the casting & installation of the current Centennial clock and bell that is still housed in Independence Hall. The 13,000 pound bell was forged by the Meneely-Kimberly Foundry in Troy, NY. He also funded the creation of the “City Clock” which is a 6,000 pound gravity escapement clock by the Seth Thomas Clock Company of Thomaston, CT. Both the clock and the tower bell are still in operation (although the gravity clock was electrified in 1926) today.

Second, upon Henry Seybert’s death in 1883, being without any heirs, his detailed will bequeathed his assets to individuals & charitable institutions. There were two $60,000 bequeaths to the University of Pennsylvania. One was for the creation of a “Chair of Moral Philosophy” while the other went to the University Hospital for the creation of a new ward for the treatment of chronic diseases.

Third, his real & personal assets were placed under the control of Executors, and for 21 years, the interest would be used to fund annuities to over 161 individuals and institutions. It was during that 21-year timeframe that the Executors began acquiring the lands in Abington Township, over 300 acres by the turn of the Century. At the end of that 21 year timeframe, the estate would be used to create the “Adam & Maria Seybert Institution for Poor Boys & Girls”. At that time, the estate had grown to over $1,000,000, and they set about to create a country school to improve the welfare & education of poor Philadelphia children. The first President of this institution was B. Franklin Pepper (a relative of Henry’s Mother) who’s family had other estates nearby in Abington Township.

On a side note, it was Mr. Pepper and the Seybert Institute that, in 1908, created the first training program for social work professionals in Philadelphia. That program is the basis for what is now the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania!

In 1908, The Seybert Institute contracted the architectural firm of Brockie & Hastings to design & oversee construction of the school’s campus. The firm is attributed to designing cottages, a Superintendant’s house (my listing!), a store, a dairy & cannery building and a cow barn.

At one point in the early 20th Century, Old Welsh Road was actually relocated from the front of the property further North so that the school’s lands would be contiguous.

The original residence designed by Brockie & Hastings is an understated & classically scaled Georgian Colonial. The school began operations in 1909, yet it was short-lived as the financial depression of 1915 forced the school to close a year later in 1916. The 300-acre campus was purchased in 1917 by Edward Marshall, who in-turn, sold off many of the buildings & grounds into private ownership as residences. It is at this time that my listing then went into private hands. Mr. Marshall did retain in excess of 20 acres and created The Meadowbrook School which is still in existence today.

Walter Sibley was the first private Owner of the property. His family made their fortune in the paint business (Felton Sibley Paint Company). They used the residence as a Summer Cottage and were known to hunt & do skeet shooting on the grounds.

In 1939, the property was acquired by Thomas Kennally, a prominent Attorney.

In 1940, Mr. Kennally hired Architect, Roland Taylor Addis to expand the house, replacing 2 porches with a Library & a bedroom suite, adding the screened porch along the Eastern façade, reconfiguring some of the interior spaces, modernizing & adding bathrooms, etc.
 
Property Description
Today, the home offers over 6,000 SF of tastefully designed living space on over 5 acres of very private grounds.

Set far off of Old Welsh Road, one approaches the property down a private lane past lawns of naturalized daffodils & other early Spring blooming bulbs. A circular drive provides ample parking at the front door, while the oversized 2-car garage is tucked off in the corner. This structure has an additional bay at the rear of the garage to house lawn equipment and provides inside access to the chicken coop!

The front entry is flanked by specimen plantings too numerous to mention, but the peonies are getting ready to bloom, and I am certain they will be beautiful! There are hydrangeas & irises & lilies as well.

A glass enclosed vestibule provides a welcoming entry to the central hallway. Inside there is a spacious foyer for greeting guests that houses the powder room & the closet. This room was professionally papered by Adelphi Paper Hanging of New York & includes a tasteful, hand-blocked stencil pattern at the ceiling.

Designed on a symmetrical central axis, one can see directly through to the rear door that overlooks acres of rear lawns to a distant tree line.

To the left is the Library that was designed in 1940 with 2 walls of bookshelves and 1 of the 4 wood burning fireplaces. The current Owners installed gaslight sconces & a chandelier that provide an amazing ambiance to this room during the evening hours. The walnut-stained Pine paneling provides a warm & inviting environment to relax in front of the fire & read a good book! The current Owners designed an intricate Madison & Wolfe decorative ceiling.

The large screened in porch (with a slate floor) can be accessed from either the Library or the Living Room. The ability to easily access the outdoors from most rooms of the house make entertaining quite easy as guests can flow from room to room with ease.

One has access from the Library into the spacious living room with 10’ ceilings, detailed crown moldings & a central fireplace. The original quarter-sawn Douglas Fir floors are in excellent condition.

Back into the central hallway, and one will begin to appreciate the original Brockie & Hastings details. The staircase is beautiful, yet subtle with scrolled carvings at the stair treads & understated balusters & spindles. There are two sets of pocket doors for the living & dining rooms.

The Dining Room occupies the West side of the original structure and has the 3rd wood burning fireplace. Deep-set original windows overlook the rear & side yards. The kitchen has been updated, incorporating the former Butler’s Pantry into a breakfast area. There is a rear staircase to the 2nd floor landing. Banks of Cherry cabinets & a custom tiled backsplash provide ample space for cooking. A corner sink provides a direct sightline to the garage, while the 2nd sink overlooks the side yard. The appliance package includes a gas cooktop, double ovens, a dishwasher & a side-by-side Sub-Zero. There is a Dutch door leading to the side porch.

The original “call bell system” has been restored by the current Owners and actually functions!!! This is the first time I have seen one of these that actually still works, with correlating call buttons in the Library, Living Room, 3 of the Bedrooms & the 3rd floor landing.

As one ascends to the 2nd floor, there is a lovely landing that provides a large picture window overlooking the front yard. One guest bedroom is diagonally off to the right (above the Library) while the rear staircase down to the kitchen is on the other corner.

The master suite occupies the entire Eastern wing of this floor (over the living room) and was likely 2 bedrooms when the house was first constructed. The master bathroom has beautiful tiles (likely from the 1940’s renovations), a stall shower & a soaking tub.

The bedroom over the dining room has the 4th fireplace and its own en-suite bathroom. Another bedroom is accessed through the original linen room and is tucked into the rear corner over the Kitchen. That bedroom has its own en-suite bathroom as well.

The 3rd floor has great space as well, with 2 more bedrooms and a 3rd room that could either be a 7th bedroom or a great family room, crafts room or office. The full bathroom on this floor has been completely remodeled, yet still retains an original claw foot tub. There is also a large walk-in cedar closet.

The basement is spacious and provides ample storage. The laundry room downstairs is filled with sunlight from oversized windows & has direct access to the kitchen & the outside.

Now it is time to take a walk around the 5 acre property.

If one goes out via the screened porch, there is a lovely brick patio on the Eastern side of the house. Step down to the lawn, and there are the remains of a sunken garden with Wisteria planted by the current owners in the four corners. Historical photos of the house show a verdant perennial boxwood garden and small pond in the center.

The rear lawn is the size of a football field and provides ample space for any form of sporting activities (baseball, soccer, football, badminton, lacrosse?) and there are numerous options for locating a future in-ground pool. Also, should one so desire, the acreage is sufficient (per Township codes) to allow for horses.

If you turn and face the original Brockie & Hastings façade, you will admire the classic proportions of the house & the understated Ionic columns supporting a simple pent roof at the entry.

As one walks along the Southern border of the property, you approach the 30’ x 52’ fenced vegetable garden, surrounded by more peonies and backed by a large stand of Redbuds. The current Owners have held large dinner parties INSIDE the garden, al-fresco!

Just beyond the garden is the Meadowbrook School’s campus.

To the North of the vegetable garden is a woodland trail that provides dappled shade and a large selection of azaleas, dogwood and other plantings. From these woods, one is back around the front to the garage.

It is a magical setting with an abundance of wildlife & beautiful plantings. Its siting on the grounds affords nearly 100% privacy from the neighbors, yet you are just 5 minutes from the PA Turnpike or Abington Hospital.

An entirely new septic system was installed in 2009. Abington Township has recently extended the public sewer to Sybil Lane. The current Owners have elected not to connect to public sewer at this time since their existing system is so new & so as not to dig up their yard just prior to listing the house. The Township has installed a connector for 1708 Old Welsh Road should the new Owner wish to connect in the future.
 
Additional Notes
Here are just a few highlights of the major enhancements that have been completed in the past 8 years.

- All fireplaces & chimneys were restored with concrete flues
- Major re-pointing of exterior stone
- Flat roof above entry replaced with soldered copper
- All house & garage gutters and downspouts replaced with half-round copper. Pole gutters at front entry re-built by hand with full-round copper
- All downspouts (except the front) re-directed underground via - PVC pipes to a drywell, then discharged in the front yard
- Upgraded the electric to 200 AMPS
- New high-capacity H/W heater
- Complete re-modeling of the 3rd floor bathroom, including new plumbing, electric & radiant floor heating.
- 3rd floor steam radiators converted to electric radiant radiators
- Replaced the sink and re-built the master bathroom shower pan
- New floor, toilet & faucets in 1 en-suite guest bathroom
- New septic system installed in 2009
Last Updated: October 19, 2017
All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed and should be independently verified.


 
 

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