Townhouse

Delancey Place

Joseph Hancock, c. 1865

The façade of this once dignified mid-19th century historic structure in Philadelphia was all that was salvageable after suffering years of neglect and dubious “renovations.” Our clients, a couple with two young children, fell in love with it despite its disrepair and decided to fully gut the interiors. At only 19 feet wide but 80 feet deep and with windows situated only at the ends, getting natural daylight into the five-story townhouse would be a challenge. Yet it was the perfect opportunity for us to reimagine 21st century living in a 19th century structure where a young family could thrive.

Communication and trust were the winning ingredients in the relationship we forged, and constant collaboration opened their minds to new ideas they had never considered. We embarked on a program that anticipated future needs with careful planning and unwavering sensitivity as every wall, window, door, floor, and mechanical system was redesigned. A large skylight was introduced to bounce light down through the staircase and into adjacent rooms with strategically placed mirrors. We embraced their love of unexpected and vivid colors, and built a collection of European antiques.

The back of the house had a 4½-ft.-wide side breezeway that soared to the roof, so we enclosed that space, converting it into a multi-level structure. On the main level we created an L-shaped eat-in kitchen, on the second a master bath, and on the third the children’s studies. We topped the structure with an expansive deck that allowed the family to admire the captivating city views. This residence now enjoys gracefully flowing spaces in a sophisticated yet playful recreation of its original grandeur.

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Communication and trust were the winning ingredients in the relationship we forged, and constant collaboration yielded an exuberant and layered palette.