19 December 2015

Saturday Spotlight- Circa 1928 French Eclectic in Wyndmoor

This week's Saturday Spotlight is a stately Depression-era French Eclectic style house in Wyndmoor, PA:

On a scallop-shaped lot tucked onto a quiet, curving side street, this home measures about 3,400 square feet. It is a formal, yet relatively simple example of the French Eclectic style which gained some popularity in the years between World War I and II. Like the many Colonial Revival variants, this is an interpretive style. However, rather than being based on earlier American colonial types, this style is an amalgamation of characteristics found in more recent French manors. As posited in A Field Guide to American Houses, Americans serving in France during WWI may have become familiar with the features, later adapting them into their homes built thereafter. This is not to say that the person who built this house served in WWI, but rather that this is what contributed to the popularity of the style.

The roof is steeply pitched and hipped, as is seen in nearly all examples of this type. The symmetrical arrangement of casement window fenestration on the stucco facade is common, and in this case, with lush landscaping folding away to a sloping lawn, produces a grand presentation of the house as one rounds the bend on the street. Symmetry is reinforced with a larger scale center entrance, embellished with stone decorative surround detailing, and a Juliet balcony with arched French doors over the front door. The windows are casements on the primary two stories, with three arched roof dormers containing double-hing windows projecting from the tall hipped roof. The one story wing on the left side is also hipped, and appears to have been incorporated into the house since its inception.

Origins (The brief version)

The French-inspired house dates to the later 1920's and sits on the former land of Philadelphia lithographer Walter Hahn Jarden. Jarden's family had owned this land as part of a larger tract off of Mermaid Lane for decades, and several former structures from the Jarden estate remain to this day. Jarden subdivided this portion of his land earlier in the 1920's, creating 18 individual home-size lots. For a much more extensive history of Walter Jarden and this Wyndmoor land, see my article from last Saturday here.

1930s to Present

The earliest occupants found at this address are the family of Lewis C. Dick, an investment banker. He lived there in the 1930s and 1940s with his wife, Florine, their only son, Lewis, three younger daughters (Alice, Florine, and Mary Jane), and a maid. It is quite possible that the Dick family were the original owners of the house, but that is unproven at this time. A bit curiously, the house's value is reported at $30,000 in 1930, but only $12,000 in 1940. Lewis Dick passed away in 1957, with his residence listed as the corner of Jarden Rd & Pine St, our subject house.

The 1960s and 1970s are a bit foggy, but a Tyson family may have lived here at one point. Although there do not appear to be any additions put onto this house over the years (there is a rear attached garage which shows up on a 1938 map), according to the county public records, a remodel was performed in 1990, during the ownership of Charles & Mary Sweet. This couple owned the home from 1984 up to 1999. Since 1999, the current owners have maintained ownership for the last 16 years through today.

Photo of the home, likely from the 1990's. Courtesy of Montgomery County.

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