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19th century Frank Furness mansion will go up for auction

The mansion has 42 rooms and was built in 1887.

Seth Xenias

A historic 19th century mansion by prolific Philly architect Frank Furness is heading to auction, after years of going on and off the market.

The Brooke Mansion in Birdsboro, which has 42 rooms and 13,677 square feet of space, will be available to bid on September 29. A starting bid hasn’t been disclosed yet, but Seth Xenias, whose family owns the mansion, said they have a reserve price that they’re willing to accept for the property.

The sale won’t just stop at the house. Everything inside—antique furniture, oriental rugs, and artwork—will all be auctioned off the same day.

The mansion has an interesting history. It was designed by Frank Furness in 1887 for industrialist Edward Brooke II, who wanted to give it to his new wife as a wedding present. Furness was well into his career when he designed Brooke Mansion, with buildings like the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Centennial National Bank under his belt. He was actually designing one of his most famous works—the Fischer Fine Arts Library at UPenn—around the same time as the Brooke Mansion.

The timing of the mansion might explain why it fits in so perfectly with Furness’s other works. It has many of the iconic Furness elements, like detailed, ornamental designs, and Victorian-Gothic style facades. Many of Furness’s 200 works have since been demolished, while others are recently seeing a comeback.

The home has most of its original architecture. There are 42 total rooms, including 16 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms. It has 10 fireplaces, a circular library with carved wood bookcases, stained glass windows, a walk-in safe, and a wooden elevator. It sits on three acres of land, with a wrap around porch to enjoy the view.

The Brookes remained in the home until the 1940s, when Edward Brooke II died. In the early 1990’s the house was foreclosed on and purchased for $325,000 by its current owners, the Xenias family, according to Philly.com.

The family stayed in the home for decades, opening a bed and breakfast called the Brooke Mansion Victorian Inn. But ever since 2008, they’ve put the mansion on the market several times, with the most recent listing coming to $1.7 million.

Along with the home, the family is auctioning off items inside, including antiques, lamps and radios, oriental rugs, vintage clothing, toys, books, china, and artwork.

Xenias calls the sale “bittersweet.”

“It’s our baby,” he said, adding that he hopes the house gets bought by, “someone who can appreciate it for the historical significance it has.”

  • 10 fantastic buildings by Frank Furness in Philly [Curbed Philly]
  • Restorations coming for 19th century Frank Furness building [Curbed Philly]
  • Frank Furness’ Brooke Mansion on the market [Philly.com]
  • 5 Frank Furness homes for sale in Philly and beyond [Curbed Philly]