14 May 2016

Saturday Spotlight- Circa 1926 Dutch Colonial Revival in Havertown

This week's Saturday Spotlight takes us into Delaware County for the first time, with this Dutch Colonial Revival in Havertown, PA.

Image via listing of Erica Deuschle, BHHS, Fox & Roach Realtors

The 2,500 square-foot home is a quintessential example of this Revival subtype, ubiquitous in the northeast United States in the first half of the 20th century. The gambrel roof (with a steeper pitch at the start of the second floor, meeting a shallower pitch up top) is what defines a Dutch Colonial Revival. True Dutch Colonials from the colonial era sometimes utilizes a gambrel roof with flared eaves. You will generally see the Revival houses either with the long gambrel roof facing the street (common from 1895-1915, with a fairly prominent centered entrance) or the other way with the shorter end (the gable end) facing the street. Here, the gable is facing the street and the side of the house includes a long shed dormer on both sides at the second level. This orientation to the street prevailed in the 1920's and 30's. The gambrel roof is quite steeply pitched, thus allowing another 1/2 story at the attic level.

Masonry was used quite often in Dutch Colonials, especially at the ground level. In this example, brick faces the first story, with cladding above. The front chimney, centered on the facade and splitting the windows evenly, was very common as well. In addition, many homes of the style, especially those of this gable-front facing variety, incorporated a front porch, as we see here with a hipped roof over it meeting the pent roof within the gable.


This house sits on land between Cobb's Creek and Saint Denis Church at the eastern end of Havertown. Situated so near to the creek, this vicinity became the locale for a number of early 18th century industrial mills-- in fact for decades, a successful wool mill sat just to the east of where the house now sits. Early owners of this land included enterprising miller Dennis Kelly, and later a Patrick Boyle. By the 1880's, and for the next 30 or so years, the mill and its land were under the purview of a Todd & Murphey Company. But the milling industry had mostly passed-- by 1908 the wool mill building itself was down to ruins only. This local milling history was chronicled in 1917 by John W. Eckfeldt in his "Cobb's Creek in the Days of the Old Powder Mill". In that year, not many before the Dutch Colonial's construction, Eckfeldt lamented:
"Nothing of the people, places or industries is left to mark the day of prosperity. The landmarks have become greatly changed to the eye by destruction. The magnificent old trees have reached their limit of life and gone, and the familiar places in many instances are dumping grounds. Modern improvement has come to the valley, but the real beauty of the place has vanished."
Part of that modern improvement was new residential streets and subdivisions. The old wool mill property was developed in the 1920's as Merwood Park. Mixing Dutch Colonial Revivals with Tudor-Style home every other lot, the creation of Merwood Park also included winding the new roads of Poplar Rd, Linden Drive, Cherry Lane, Rosewood Lane, and Wynnefield Drive inwards and outwards of each other to the east of the Saint Denis Church property. The subject house of this article is seen as one of the first phase of houses built in Merwood Park along the western half of the subdivision in a 1926 atlas map and a 1928 aerial photograph.

Merwood Park in 1926 atlas map, portion of map via Franklin Maps. Dutch Colonial house highlighted with purple arrow.
Aerial view of the neighborhood, circa 1928. Via PhilaGeoHistory.

1930s to Present

One of the earliest owners of the house, if not its first, was a railroad engineer named Fremont Harry Tietze. As of the 1930 census, Fremont was 43 years of age, and was living in the home with his wife, 39-year-old Kathryn, and their 10-year-old daughter Dorothy. The family came to Havertown by way of North Philadelphia, where the couple had lost multiple children in infancy during their earlier years of marriage. Dorothy was their only surviving child. Although this area would remain their long-term permanent home, they would move from this house to nearby Turnbull Avenue by 1940.

By 1954, linotype printing specialist Edward Iannacone had come into ownership of the home, along with his wife Elizabeth. The couple had at least one child, a daughter Rita Anna, who would have been about 15 years old at this time, The Iannacones owned the property for over 45 years, until 1991. The house went through three more owners during the 1990's, until its current owners purchased it in 1999. The Dutch Colonial is currently on the market, seeking a new old-house lover to steward its historic charm!

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