This 19th century Birdsboro estate is about to be taken off the market —after quite the long and winding road. The Brooke Mansion was designed by Frank Furness for Edward Brooke as a wedding present for his wife, Ann (it's like a Pennsylvania Taj Mahal!) 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. But, according to current listing agent Art Sprunger, the 14,000 square-foot estate, asking $1,899,999, will be unlisted come July if nobody steps forward to claim her.
It's been a long road for the quirky house, an editor's choice for the December 2005 issue of Architectural Digest: it's bobbed on and off the market now for over seven years. One of the issues with selling the estate, Sprunger explained to Curbed, is that nearly 6,000 acres of the original parcel was sold in the '30s to create Hopewell Village Federal Historic Site and French Creek State Park, and since then, additional land sales immediately adjacent to the property means that the gigantic residence now sits on a rather disproportionately small piece of land. Folks looking to settle down in the estate have been disappointed in the lack of grounds buffering the house from its neighbors. But, Sprunger continues, perhaps the property is best suited for the working world (it's run as a B&B from time to time in the past). It is zoned R-1 with variances approved for commercial uses, including corporate offices, a Bed & Breakfast, fine dining (with additional parking, etc). It's even served as a retirement home for 25 years. Any takers? It's the last call.
Size: 14,000 square feet. 19 bedrooms. Nine baths.
Land: Three acres
Furness junkie bonus: 10 Furness-designed and ornamented fireplaces, each unique