June 8, 2018

Preservation Personals: Idyllic "Villa Medici" Retreat in the Philly Suburbs

  • By: Mikayla Raymond

In a quiet, green neighborhood just outside of Philadelphia in Rydal, Pennsylvania, I offer refuge from busy, modern life, set back from the road and from my neighbors. I sit on a buffered two-and-a-half acre lot, abutting Jenkintown Creek and several small neighborhood parks. My long driveway takes you to an oasis of privacy and serenity, and ends in a gentle curve that brings you to my beautifully detailed, arched entry with its original double doors with iron details.

I was built in 1929 in this idyllic setting by Italian-born American architect Wilson Eyre, who did much of his professional work in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, including many large estates in Philadelphia's suburb. Historically, these wealthy suburbs of Philadelphia were made possible by the expansions of train networks, most notably the "Main Line." Rydal was a stop on the Reading Railroad starting in the late 19th century, and is now served by SEPTA Regional Rail, making commuting downtown a breeze.

I consist of a mixture of local brick and stone designed in what was dubbed an English Country take on the Tudor Revival style popular during the period. I’m both grand and comfortable, and despite my English influences, I was known as “Villa Medici.”

In my nearly 100 years of life, I have only had four owners (three of whom were physicians, who both lived and practiced here). I have had very few alterations, aside from an expansion of my kitchen in the 1950s and the construction of a pool and pool house in the 1970s—two changes to be grateful for!

I have six bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms, but my most impressive spaces are probably my living and dining areas, both of which have wood-burning fireplaces. My living room has a vaulted and beamed ceiling, with huge casement windows providing tons of light. My built-in bookcases are perfect for showcasing your collections, as you'll find my current owners have done. My dining room has incredibly detailed crown molding and trim on the walls. From there, French doors open up to my rear terrace, which offers a great place to relax and enjoy my lush surroundings. It's shaded by a massive southern magnolia, which blooms in late spring but keeps its leaves year-round.

Learn more about me here.

My front elevation.

photo by: Scott Laughlin

Rydal, PA, 19046.

My living room radiates warmth and comfort.

photo by: Scott Laughlin

My living room features a gorgeously high exposed-beam ceiling.

My dining room.

photo by: Scott Laughlin

My dining room is equal parts refined and whimsical.

Mikayla Raymond is a proud preservationist and editorial intern at the National Trust. She lives for public parks, weird art, and women’s history.


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