For historic architecture that fails to sell at auction, the road to a happy ending can be long and brittle. In 2008, the 1961 Esherick House, a Philadelphia treasure forged by American architect Louis Kahn, a designer known for fashioning weighty monoliths out of every commission, went up for auction, hoping to sell as easily as other midcentury-designed houses on the market at the time. But, alas, the Esherick House went on the block too late; the market in '08 was infinitely rockier than that in '06 and '07, when its midcentury comrades like the Pierre Koenig-designed Case Study house and Marcel Breuer-designed Wolfson House sold for $3.185M and $1.16M, respectively.
And so the one-bedroom, lauded for its façade with four walls offering four very distinct window configurations, including one of huge single-paned windows that gaze into a wooded park, languished on the market, asking $1.9M, then $1.5M, then $1.25M. This month (Feb. 7, to be exact) the house (choirs sing, organs play) finally sold for $920K, less than half its original ask.
A bit more about the place: in 1959, Margaret Esherick asked the modernist to build her a hideaway in the Philadelphia suburbs, so Kahn designed a 2,500-square-foot concrete-and-stucco rectangle, with a flat roof and a wall of windows by the two-story living room. Being one of only nine private homes Kahn designed that were actually built, in 1992 Esherick house received the Landmark Building Award from the Philly chapter of AIA, and in 2009, it was added to the Pennsylvania Register of Historic Places. Though any kind of sale is good news, the fact that Esherick House once asked as much as $1.9M makes the $920K final selling price a bit of a bruiser. More photos, below.