Something unsettling has been happening on Philadelphia's storied Main Line. Magnificent early 20th-century mansions, which are meticulously maintained on the outside, have had their interiors transformed to the very height of muddled McMansion style. This is no isolated incident, but a veritable epidemic among the mansions of this traditional old money bastion. For example, this 1929 stone manor in Haverford is well presented on the outside, but the interior is some post-modernish mess where the lowlights include a garish abstract area rug, a pair of hideous curved couches in the living room, and glossy black tile. The brokerbabble tells it one way—"grand old world made new"—but it looks more like grand old world messed up. Meanwhile, the high price tag, $2.9M, virtually ensures that no one will take on the challenge of restoring this country estate to its former glory.
? Also set in Haverford and also an imposing stone estate, this 1935 Tudor is also in need of an interior re-do. The $2.45M mansion has space—with seven bedrooms—and the facade to be a fabulous period estate, but many of the hardwood floors have been covered in beige wall-to-wall carpeting, the master suite has green faux marble columns and cheesy wall paintings, and the living room has had a claustrophobia-inducing drop ceiling added to make room for can lights.
? This 100-year-old Victorian in Rosemont has a cheery yellow second story to brighten up the stone, but the interiors are the dreary result of a features-over-style philosophy. The most glaring example in this $1.75M manse is the conversion of a classic stone sunroom into a gym. Garden variety fake antiques don't help either, but at least the pinball machines have been relegated to the basement.
? The third time might be a charm for this converted carriage house in Bryn Mawr, the third renovation that is. The place was revamped in 2006 and then again in 2010, but without very aesthetically-pleasing results. The $2M mashup tries to fake authenticity with the painted crest fireplace. Too bad the fire has a remote control.
? Ironically, one of the better preserved examples of an old Main Line estate is one that's been converted to condos in Bryn Mawr. This $745K two-bedroom flat has a huge columned porch, intricately carved Gothic Revival woodwork, and a garage original to the structure. The only trouble is with the kitchen, where cheap-looking cabinetry conspires to ruin the historic effect. But to be fair, this is pretty much a blank canvas. Now let's just wait and see what the next owners end up doing with it.