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The Story of Billy Penn's Farm—Now Listed at $1.6 Million

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Photos courtesy Long & Foster.


Our dear, departed state founder, William Penn, once owned a horse farm of 500 acres in what we now know as Berwyn. It was like a state unto itself. Then comes 1681, and Penn receives the royal charter for Pennsylvania from Charles II. And he gets stressed out—like he's-having-back-spasms stressed out. It's all too much—founding a state, taking care of a farm, all the horses and their separate issues... Enough. So he deeds the farm to a guy named William Mordaint, who also goes by William Mordaunt, which is super annoying to everyone, but whatever—Mordy (as his friends call him) is an okay guy, and Penn just wants to be done with at least one thing because this is when all the Welsh Tract business is going on and it's also all before Valium. Mordy is down on the farm for a while, but he ends up kind of tanking—which is so Mordy#8212;so John Wilson gets 320 acres from the foreclosure. Wilson builds a sweet farmhouse on the land, never imagining the house will someday be expanded into 4,312 square feet with five bedrooms and four bathrooms. In fact, he'd be hard pressed to imagine a bathroom at all.

But Billy Penn, he's a bit of a control freak, so he never really lets go. In 1770, here he is again, back on the land, to build a 9,000-square-foot bank barn out of stones from the farm's stream and wood from the farm's trees. And in 2012 that bank barn is exactly as it was then, even with "mortise and tendon joints," which sounds like a stew you'd order in a dark cafe in Southern France and regret immediately.

So that's pretty much the history of this part of William Penn's horse farm—now called Upper Stream Farm—because the next major renovation doesn't happen till the 1960s, when Penn is well out of the picture. Which is for the best, really, because otherwise how would you explain why his springhouse was turned into "an authentic pub with a home theater"? Awkward.

Price: $1,598,500
Fireplaces: Five, all working
Extra space: Springhouse-turned-pub, 1 bedroom caretaker cottage, 900-square-foot coach house
Parking: Two 2-car garages
Outdoors: Screened-in porch, gardens with specimen plantings, stream, in-ground pool, deck
Honors: Chester County Historical Award for Authentic Restoration, 2009
Local press: A Piece Of Colonial History For Sale In Tredyffrin Twp. Upper Stream Farm Sits Close To Major Highways, But Includes A Barn Built In The 1700s [Inquirer, 2000]
· Listing: 1405 Duportail Road, Berwyn [Long & Foster]