If Hollywood legend Katharine Hepburn were alive today, chances are she'd feel right at home in this elegant $17.9 million home on one of Philadelphia's old-money Main Line suburbs.
That's because this eight-bedroom home sits on 17 acres in Villanova carved out of the 750-acre estate known as Ardrossan.
Ardrossan was built by Col. Robert Leaming Montgomery, who made his money in the investment world. Helen Hope Montgomery Scott, his daughter, was the inspiration for the character Hepburn played in the 1940 screwball classic "The Philadelphia Story." Scott married a friend of Philip Barry, who penned the original play upon which the Oscar-winning film was based.
The home that's now for sale once served as the stable for the larger estate, but it was fully renovated as a residence between 2003 and 2006, explains listing agent Lisa Weber Yakulis.
"It offers a rare combination of things," she says. "It's an amazing older structure that really is a part of the Main Line history and folklore, and everything that's original has been restored. It is unbelievably impressive but in a very understated way."
The property includes twin guesthouses, one with one bedroom, the other with three bedrooms, along with a clock tower building that can be used for offices, Yakulis says. The roughly 11,000-square-foot main house includes a spacious kitchen, a living room with massive stone fireplace, and a master suite with radiant floor heating.
The home's exterior features a cedar shake roof, copper gutters, handcarved main entry doors, a tennis court, and a swimming pool. A stone barn features a great room and second-floor workout facility. The barn is a newer structure but was built to match the overall look of the estate, Yakulis says.
"Everything done either enhanced the original features or converted them in a pretty seamless way to suit the most sophisticated buyers we have today searching for modern amenities," Yakulis says.
A horseshoe-shaped driveway enables visitors to feel like they are in the country, away from the hustle and bustle of the city even though Philadelphia is only 15 miles away. "This feels rural but in a very elegant way," Yakulis says.
It's also part of a conservancy set up for the former larger estate, which means the home cannot be assessed at a higher rate for future tax increases, Yakulis explains.
The home was in the news in 2004 when its owners hosted a fundraiser for then-President George W. Bush. Given her penchant for liberal causes, Hepburn likely wouldn't have attended that event, but she likely would have loved the restoration work done on this Main Line gem.