Traditional Building Portfolio
Palladio Awards

Project: Jayne House, Philadelphia, PA

Architect: John Milner Architects, Inc., Chadds Ford, PA; John D. Milner, FAIA, principal in charge; Christina H. Carter, AIA, project manager; P. Justin Detwiler, project architect

Contractor: Cherokee Construction, Wyndmoor, PA; Tom Meyers, president; Barry Bragin, project manager

Interior Designer: Eberlein Design Consultants, Ltd., Philadelphia, PA; Barbara Eberlein, ASID, president; Jennifer A. Gibson, project manager


Restoration & Renovation
Winner: John Milner Architects

Landmark Restoration

By Will Holloway

In the mid-1890s, renowned architect Frank Furness designed a stately residence for his niece, Caroline Furness Jayne, and her husband, zoologist Dr. Horace Jayne, on the corner of 19th and Delancey streets in Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square neighborhood. During his career, Furness designed hundreds of buildings in the Philadelphia area, including the National Bank of the Republic (1883), the Provident Life and Trust Company building (1876) and the Library for the University of Pennsylvania (1888), now known as the Fisher Fine Arts Library. Widely considered his most significant work, the library is variously described, like most of his projects, as "inventive" and "full of character." With its elaborate sculptural façade elements and two-and-a-half story, oak-paneled central hall topped with a leaded-glass skylight, the Jayne House was no different.

In the 1920s, the Jayne House was sold and underwent significant interior alterations. In the 1940s, when it was transformed into a synagogue, the entire north side of the first floor was used as a large worship space. In the latter half of the 20th century, the building housed a variety of institutions.

The Jayne House's road to recovery began in 2007, when the current owners purchased the property with plans to restore its original appearance and usage as a single-family residence. With Chadds Ford, PA-based John Milner Architects on board, the goals for the restoration were clear from the beginning: to be respectful of the house's history and architectural significance while making modest alterations to accommodate a modern family.

"While monumental in its design concept, the building has a remarkably human scale and a contemporary sense of interactive spaces that make it the perfect urban residence," says John D. Milner, FAIA, principal of John Milner Architects.

While all members of the Milner team were fans of Furness, and understood the significance of working on such an historic landmark, project manager Christina Carter says that the firm "gained a new level of appreciation for his genius."

"Many of Furness' buildings have been lost over the last century," says Justin Detwiler, the project architect, noting that Philadelphia's 19th-century building stock has been increasingly threatened with the wrecking ball. "So the restoration of this landmark house was important to his legacy."

Despite the 20th-century modifications, many of the house's original features remained, including the two-and-a-half-story, oak-paneled central hall. Here, a new custom-fabricated protective aluminum screen was fabricated to match the original configuration and design. A new ceiling and lighting were installed, the leaded-glass interior storm windows were restored, the quarter-sawn white-oak floors and millwork were restored and a custom decorative mural now surrounds the skylight panels.

Other areas of the house retained less original fabric. In the northeast corner of the house, for instance, the formal parlor bore little resemblance to its original appearance. Demolition uncovered the original cast-iron firebox, as well as the tile surround and hearth, which were conserved; a new mantel was designed based on others in the house. A new decorative plaster ceiling was introduced and missing pieces of the original plaster cornice were replaced to match.

Adjacent to the parlor, a small library was formed on axis with an original curved bay window. Between the library and parlor, a partition of Corinthian columns atop low, custom bookcases with leaded-glass doors was created – establishing a break between the rooms while keeping the spaces open and light-filled.

To minimize the impact on the original fabric, a kitchen was created in the location of the original rear parlor. The space features new cabinetry, appliances and a coffered ceiling; original windows and casing were restored. On the second floor, new bedrooms and closets utilize original wall, door and window locations where possible. An elevator was introduced in place of the original dumbwaiter. Throughout, new electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems were installed discreetly to maximize open space and have minimal impact on the historic fabric.

On the exterior, the restoration and conservation had to satisfy the Philadelphia Historical Commission and the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, which holds a façade easement on the property. The comprehensive process included a full masonry restoration, the conservation of sculptural elements, a new terra-cotta roof, a new roof deck, a new bluestone courtyard and the restoration of ironwork throughout.

Areas of soiling on the terra-cotta façade surfaces were removed with a backpack laser and coated with urethane to restore their original color and form a protective barrier. Original windows were restored and reused, the bluestone stoop was restored and a new railing and lamppost were installed. Above the entry, the deteriorated balcony was deconstructed and reinforced with a steel structure.

The extensive list of suppliers that contributed to the project includes: New Lexington, OH-based Ludowici Roof Tile; Norristown, PA-based Felber Ornamental (plaster ceilings, moldings and medallions); Somerset, PA-based Somerset Door & Column Co. (custom exterior wood doors); Danbury, CT-based Waterworks (toilets, tubs, sinks, faucets); Chicago, IL-based Decorator's Supply (corbel brackets and decorative elements); Portland, OR-based Rejuvenation (interior door hardware); and Floyd, VA-based Crenshaw Lighting (interior lighting). Crown City Hardware of Pasadena, CA, and Von Morris of Camden, NJ, supplied exterior door hardware. Cabinet hardware was supplied by The Nanz Company of New York, NY; House of Antique Hardware of Portland, OR; Whitechapel of Jackson, WY; Historic Houseparts of Rochester, NY; and Restoration Hardware of Hayward, CA. U.K.-based Farrow & Ball, Benicia and CA-based Bradbury & Bradbury supplied wall coverings.

After a three year process, the newly restored and renovated Jayne House has been well received by the owners and preservation community alike. "The family continues to express its happiness with the final product," says Carter. "The Center City Resident's Association officially recognized the project with the Bobbi Burke Historic Preservation Award – their only annual honor for historic preservation. And the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia presented the home with its annual Honor Award for Historic Preservation."  



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