Home of the Month Tanglewood
A historic estate in Thornbury Township
We were from the Midwest and looking for space for our active children,” says the owner and mother of four former Division 1 college athletes about the decision to buy Tanglewood. “The kids didn’t play video games. Instead they played in the two streams and acres of woods,” she continues, referring to the towering oaks and walnut trees that have provided quality wood to local furniture makers.
The house still displays evidence of idyllic times, with marks for each child’s height on upper bedroom walls and even a tiny child-sized commode. “There were enough bathrooms in the house that we could have this just for the kids and then the grandkids,” says the owner.
More evidence of this happy place where the owners lived for 31 years: the grown children returned to visit Tanglewood with their families and bought similar properties for raising their own children.
Set on seven private acres, this elegant early-19th-century house has great bones. With 18-inch-thick walls of locally quarried granite, even the home’s original section boasts 10-foot ceilings on the first of three stories (upper floors enjoy 9- and 8-foot ceiling).
More architectural details delight throughout the home and its seamless additions (in 1873 and 1929)—keystones set above each window, French doors, a Dutch door, antique window glass, original floors, stone patios for enjoying the property.
Equally delightful is the history—both documented and rumored—surrounding Tanglewood. The historic estate has long been associated with such luminaries as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and artist Ben Kamihira, along with somewhat less stellar characters.
During the years following the 1873 addition, which added a large number of bedrooms, the rumors began. An informal history by the current owners notes “the house experienced an abnormally high number of male visitors arriving by train from Philadelphia … to spend time visiting the ‘country.’”
Not coincidentally at that time the Wayside Church at the entrance to Tanglewood was built, reportedly “to appease the local officials who were concerned about the activities that may have been going on in the main house.”
Less notorious and certainly more glamorous was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s attorney renting Tanglewood around 1923–24 on behalf of the writer and wife Zelda to use “to escape the public lives they were living in Princeton, NJ.”
Among other uses, after World War II nearby Cheney University rented the house to use as a dorm for male students. The property was a center of civil rights activity, likely the connection to Dr. King.
And in the 1960s artist Ben Kamihira owned the home and used the carriage house as his painting studio. Since the 1960s the property has been a single-family home.
The home’s linear design, tall windows, high ceilings and honeyed wood floors ensure the eight-bedroom, five-full-bathroom home is filled with light. Quality construction is evident everywhere, from the original broad moldings to the spacious modern kitchen to the low utility bills.
On the first floor you’ll find a spacious Living Room with fireplace and exquisite reeded mantel, an adjoining Library with built-ins and stone fireplace (with wood stove), as well as a Study, perfect for a home office, with newer French doors on opposite walls. Next is the inviting Dining Room with stone fireplace (with wood stove), also with windows on both sides of the room.
At the far end of this floor in the most recent addition is the magnificent modern eat-in Kitchen, with two separate entrances, powder room, mudroom and back stairs to the Guest Suite.
This well-designed space works equally well for family cooking and large-scale entertaining. Guests will be drawn to the open space with beamed ceiling, wood floors and many windows. Cooks will love the granite counters and island, abundant cabinets and high-end appliances (two GE wall ovens, two Miele dishwashers, SubZero fridge/freezer, Viking five-burner range), plus several built-ins, including a cookbook rack with folding table.
On the second floor is the Master Suite with bedroom, walk-in closet and en suite bath featuring marble floors, tiled shower stall, and ball & claw soaking tub. This floor also has two more Bedrooms, a large Family Room, Home Office, Laundry and large Guest Suite (sitting room, bedroom, bath) with separate stairs.
The third level is comprised of four more bedrooms.
Surrounding the house are stone terraces with views of the lush property, a small stone garden shed and a larger two-story former carriage house once used as an artist’s studio.
When asked about moving, the owners say they will miss the birds and the quiet of Tanglewood. “When we returned from a recent vacation, we noticed that our home was more peaceful than Yellowstone National Park!” says the owner. “It’s a place where we could always relax at the end of the day.”
Here’s hoping the next owners will, too.
For more on this unique 8-bedroom, 5-bath home with studio and garden shed, set on 7 acres in Thornbury Township, contact The Holly Gross Group, Berkshire Hathaway, Fox & Roach, 610-430-3030 (office), 484-883-0681 (cell); HollyGrossGroup.com.
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