The Space

By J. Cooper Robb
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Oct. 26, 2005

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M.L. Packard
Occupation: Retired.
Neighborhood: Rosemont.
Style: 2,000-square-foot 19th-century Victorian.

Contrary to popular belief, the Main Line doesn't consist entirely of million-dollar mansions. Certainly the neighborhoods that line Lancaster Avenue boast their share of extravagant homes with swimming pools and tennis courts. But truth is these palaces make up a small minority of the Main Line's residences. Instead you're more likely to find a warm and comfortable house like the one owned by Mary Packard and her husband. Although the Packards' six children have left home, it takes just one look around the lovely Victorian to see why the couple decided not to downsize.


When was the house built?
"A woman came over once, and she looked at the rosettes over the doors as well as the stairs, the railings and the newel post. She could tell by the way they were carved that the home dated back to the mid-1880s. The house was first built as a summer home for people in the city. There was a coal chute in the basement."

How long have you been here?
"Twenty-seven years."

You must've done a lot to the house in that time.
"Not as much as you'd imagine. We renovated the kitchen, which was probably the biggest project, and added a porch out back. But the dining room, the stairway and the mantelpiece in the living room are original to the house."

How many rooms are there?
"There are seven bedrooms and three baths."

How come you decided to stay after the kids moved out?
"The rooms are small, so we've utilized the bedrooms. For instance one bedroom has become an office. We also like to travel, and another bedroom contains all our travel files. Most important, though, is we have room when the children come home to visit. Each of them has a family with two or three grandchildren. We can't house everyone at the same time, but if two families come at once, that takes up four or five bedrooms, so we end up needing the space. Also my husband enjoys working in the yard, and now that he's retired he has time to do that. It's a luxury to have the time to enjoy the place."

What do you like best about the house?
"Initially I thought it was important that each of the kids have their own bedroom. The house was pretty run-down at the time, but the large front porch has a lot of charm, and it really appealed to me. We still enjoy it."

The kitchen and breakfast room are spectacular.
"One day I was doing laundry in the back room. The sun was shining on the washing machine. It was the only place in the entire house that had sun, and I thought, 'This is stupid.' So we took out the pantry and put in a bay window in and made a little breakfast room. It's so bright and sunny, we use it all the time to do work in."

Got a great space? Email J. Cooper Robb (jrobb@philadelphiaweekly.com) with your name, neighborhood and contact info.

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