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Vanna Venturi House in Chestnut Hill achieves historic designation

The iconic home will be preserved

An exterior view of the Vanna Venturi postmodern house designed by Robert Venturi.
The Vanna Venturi house in Chestnut Hill has been added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.
Photos courtesy of Kurfiss Sotheby's International Realty

Update: This article has been updated from a previous version with more information regarding the historic designation.

Nearly a year after being nominated, the trailblazing Vanna Venturi House in Chestnut Hill, designed by Robert Venturi early in his career, has officially been added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.

On Thursday morning, the Philadelphia Historical Commission voted to approve the nomination, which provides the home with preservation protection. From here on out the commission will have oversight for any changes to the property’s exterior.

The iconic postmodern 3-bedroom, 2-bedroom was designed by Venturi in 1962-64 for his mother, earning it the moniker “Mother’s Home.” It has been critically acclaimed for its peculiar design: The pitched roof, random curves, and a staircase that leads to nowhere are unexpected surprises that display the architect’s departure from modernism at that time.

Until this year, the property has only had a few owners: Vanna and the Hugheses, another local family. It sold to another local buyer earlier this summer for $1.325 million when the home was still under consideration for historic designation. When he bought it, the listing agent told Curbed Philly that he also planned to preserve the architectural standout.

The Chestnut Hill Historical Society, which nominated the structure, released this statement in an e-mail:

Protection will be important in the future. Former owners, the Hughes family, friends of Venturi and his partner Denise Scott Brown, loved the home "like family" over four decades. The property's new owner has continued this tradition of providing exceptional care. And now, we have certainty that future owners will too.

The executive director Lori Salganicoff, said the nomination was somewhat dragged out due to the change in ownership in the middle of the process. In addition, a preservation easement was also in play that would have allowed the society to monitor and regulate the property rather than the Historic Commission.

That easement did not move forward, which brought the nomination back to the commission.

“The owner, from what I understand, is very much in favor of protection of the building and has been in touch with the Venturi's, who are absolutely delighted,” says Salganicoff, who adds that Robert Venturi visits the home every week.

The historic home is located at 8330 Millman Street in Chestnut Hill.