So when Realtor Joanne McBride sent me an invitation to preview her new listing, Mill-Brook (built by Architect Charles Barton Keen), being an old house junkie, how could I resist?
Charles Barton Keen built Mill-Brook around 1902. My research indicates it was built for F. King Wainwright in 1902. Referred to in my research as a “stockbroker Tudor”, it was indicative of an era of Main Line architecture in the early 20th century. As the TEHS Quarterly said in 1995 of this house in particular:
It is no accident that these houses seem to command a feudal position as they surveyed their domain. Many were self-contained complexes with their own power plants, water systems, and a multitude of assorted outbuildings ranging from stables to private chapels.
The Tudor style, half-timbered houses often nick-named “stockbroker Tudor”, appeared in F. King Wainwright’s Millbrook. The work of Charles Barton Keen, it was located on 23 acres off of Williamson Road in Bryn Mawr. The hall of Millbrook hinted at baronial splendor. Many of these Tudor-style houses, in fact, had paneling removed from English houses.
The architect, Charles Barton Keen, was described as “a renowned and prolific architect of country homes”. He was born in Philadelphia and educated at the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated in 1889.
I am pretty sure Keen began his career working for two Philadelphia architects T.P. Chandler and Frank Miles Day. They were quite influential in their own right. Keen went out on his own around 1901, so in theory, Mill-Brook could have been one of his early important commissions as an independent architect. He designed from Maine to Florida, and I believe he eventually settled in North Carolina in Winston-Salem.
In our area, Charles Barton Keen also designed a house in Merion which was on The Lower Merion Conservancy’s Walking Tour of Merion this past May 23rd. Keen also designed famous and beautiful Greystone Hall in West Chester, PA and Rose Garland, known to all of us today as The Willows in Radnor Township.
Mill-Brook is divine. And so is its current owner, restauranteur Marsha Brown, whom I hadn’t seen in years. The last time I met Marsha I was posing with friends for an Academy Ball Book photo in Marsha’s Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Philadelphia – and a very LARGE lobster was with us (see photo)! Marsha was there this evening and was a charming a hostess as ever, treating all of us to a tasting from her restaurants Ruth’s Chris and Marsha Brown’s Creole Kitchen and Lounge. (The crab cakes were so incredibly amazing!)
But back to this house…oh how splendid – the devil is in the details and this is an old house with panache and style, and it’s in for-real move in condition. It sports amazing chandeliers, fireplaces and interesting mantlepieces galore, architectural details you can’t make out of wall board and Tyvec and an incredible pool and manicured yet naturally lovely and non-pretentious grounds.
Nestled at the top of a long and winding driveway off of Morris Avenue in Bryn Mawr, PA, this is a house that should be toured by Lower Merion Township officials to remind them what is grand and amazing about Lower Merion that new construction will never quite capture with the same essence.
This house is a historic preservationist’s dream and modernized quite enough to suit anyone with a brain. This house is just lovely.
If you have an interest in this divine design, contact Joanne McBride of Prudential Fox and Roach Realtors -(610)-547-6001 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you are a Main Line Realtor and you like this little write-up and photos, well I can do that for you too, so drop me a line!