Another one bites the dust. For the second time! A Second Empire “twin” house in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood, built around 1880, witnessed an exhaustive makeover in the late 1960’s in a semi-successful effort to transform the narrow townhouse into a sprawling ranch style home. The original Victorian-era interior was scrapped in favor of current fashion — with a heavy emphasis on kitsch.
Roughly a half century later, history has repeated itself. The house first came to my attention last spring when Devyn shared its deliciously campy late mid-century aesthetic with me. I celebrated the quirky interior in a tribute post. An exhaustive remodeling ensued, and within a day of the property’s return to the market, Chad notified me of the fact. Thanks to both for their vigilance!
Following are six “Before and After” photo pairs to illustrate the most recent transformation. Your thoughts, as always, are appreciated…
There are, of course, more photos of the house, but you get the idea. For those that want to see the rest of the transformation, here’s a link. Please let me know your reactions… good or bad!
This may be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t think the end result is terrible. The outside is very attractive–big improvement. They kept the LR fireplace which was smart. In my opinion, there wasn’t much on the first floor to save. The light fixtures, staircases, fake stone and wood beams were ugly, dark and oppressive. They put a window in the kitchen thank goodness.
I would have tried to save the bathroom fixtures and tile. Also the third floor loft with the wall of windows appears to be gone?! That was a mistake. It would have made a great kids’ playroom or office as it was.
It’s generic but I couldn’t have lived with the house as it was. I wonder if an interior designer could recapture some of that 60’s vibe.
I would agree with you that the end result is not terrible — given that the original Victorian interior was destroyed long ago and that the 1960’s interior was of dubious quality. The makeover reflects current tastes and demand, so will likely be more popular than unpopular.
I’ve always been drawn to time capsule houses — of any era — and can’t help but mourn their passing. As much as I liked the campy look prior to renovation, even I have to admit that there were many aspects of the house that I simply couldn’t live with. The house is an interesting study in changing tastes. Thanks for weighing in!
I’m dying to know what has become of the other twin, which was more to my liking anyway. Maybe the flipper and the owner agreed on the exterior colors?
I’m curious, too! For some reason I was thinking that both houses were purchased by the same buyer (they were both on the market at the same time and offered by the same realtor). Maybe the flipper owns the other twin? Regardless, the twin next door offered more opportunity for something resembling restoration than the “time capsule” house did. Perhaps it will hit the market in the near future… with a new look.
I love the 60’s interior to look at but . . . I wouldn’t actually want to live in it. And since the original interiors are long gone, I don’t object to this makeover, although it is very boring and characterless, especially the kitchen.
I guess this is one of those rare instances where no one — not even me — wants to passionately defend an authentic late 1960’s interior. It might have made a fantastic backdrop for some functions, but not as a residence. I still miss it, however… >sniff<
I liked the 1960s interior. At least it had character, unlike its bland looks-like-every-other-newbuild replacement.
I would have enhanced the 1960s interior rather than replace it.
Yes, it certainly had character! If this house had been mine I, too, would have opted to play up and improve upon the 1960’s interior — though I would have had to entirely re-think some aspects of the house such as the kitchen. Most people (due to constant brainwashing via televison) would not opt to save any of the vintage kitschiness.
I adored the former living room, but disliked the cheesiness of the drop ceiling and the fact that the wood paneling was spliced to make it reach a ceiling height greater than eight feet. I would find those things difficult to embrace, and would have been compelled to improve upon them. While difficult to live with on a daily basis, such an interior would have made a really fun weekend rental or private club of some sort.
As fascinating as the house was before, there are simply too few of us who could have appreciated it as it was… and none of us were jumping at the chance to purchase it for the purpose of preservation. I can understand what happened, but its blandness still leaves me feeling somewhat empty and sad. Thanks for your defense of this highly memorable interior!
The 60s interior is beautiful! Given the opportunity, I would love and cherish such a home exactly as it was. The only improvement I see in the after photos is the exterior color scheme. That they didn’t go with the usual beige/gray & white trim is a surprise, but a welcome one.
Hmmm… maybe there are more fans of this particular aesthetic than I had imagined! At least the exterior looks better, even if the interior lost its former personality.
The blandness of the new finish is kind of sad! I can only assume the original wood floors were in poor condition as they have been completely covered up with a layer of what seems to be floating ‘engineered hardwood’. Maybe this was to allow for the staircases to be moved (why!). The house had so much creativity to offer, it is amazing that not even a slice of it has survived. It is left with only a cold TV personality, no love there!
Cold indeed! Previously the house had enough quirky personality that it could have had a role in a John Waters movie, but today it is so nondescript that it could blend in anywhere on HGTV.
I am in agreement with the others that as it was, it would have been hard to live in. But, they really did go out of the way to neuter this home with stark rooms and those ghastly recessed lights everywhere. It looks more like a retail space now than a home.
“Retail” sums it up nicely!