The exquisite Brooke Mansion, designed by Frank Furness, operates as a B&B in Birdsboro, Pa., near Reading. It's a perfect tourist spot because the Daniel Boone homestead is nearby, as is a tour of covered bridges, the Hopewell Furnace, French Creek and several other attractions that sound more boring than they are. The 42-room B&B must be a bear to operate and maintain, hence its enduring presence on the market and its rotation of real estate agents over the years.
The house was built by Edward Brooke in 1888 as a wedding present for his wife, Ann—a sort of Eastern Pennsylvania Taj Mahal, if you will. Brooke commissioned Furness to build it at a time when Furness' reputation for unpredictability was at its height, and Furness didn't disappoint. Apparently, the house has all kinds of strange and delightfully discordant details inside, most of which have been preserved.
Interestingly, the Brooke Mansion doesn't feature prominently (or at all) on lists of buildings done by Furness. Perhaps it's considered one of his lesser works. But it has been featured more than once in Architectural Digest, so there you go.
Size: 14,000 square feet. 19 bedrooms. Nine baths.
Land: Three acres
Furness junkie bonus: 10 Furness-designed and ornamented fireplaces, each unique
· Listing: 301 Washington St., Birdsboro, Pa. 19508 [Glen Paisley]