On the Market profiles homes for sale in the Philadelphia region.
A Montgomery County home built by the founder of Jenkintown that was a safe haven for the Underground Railroad is on the market for the first time in nearly three decades.
The historical Quaker estate known as "Vernon" is at 630 Washington Lane in Rydal, a community in Abington Township. It was built in 1736 by Jenkintown's founder Stephen Jenkins, according to David Rowland of the Old York Road Historical Society.
Jane Quinn, the current owner's daughter, says she's been told that Stephen Jenkins built the home for his son when he was married, and that it was signed with a land grant from William Penn.
Part of the home was used as a secret passageway for the Underground Railroad, Quinn says.
"We were told the old root cellar – the walls of which are still on the property – was the access point for the slaves from which ran a tunnel to the main house basement," she says. "The tunnel has been since filled in prior to our family's ownership."
The former 18th century estate is now made up of four homes, all owned by separate families. The home that Quinn's father, Thomas, and late mother, Katherine, purchased in 1984 was the estate's main house.
Before they moved into the 4,927-square-foot home, there had been two major additions. In the 1800s a central hall was added to the area where the dining room is currently located. In the 1960s, the then-owners added a large family room with cathedral ceilings, wrought iron exposed beams, a butler's sink, large bay window, and sliding doors to the back gardens and patio.
Quinn says her parents' decision to move to the home in the 1980s was an unexpected one. The youngest of four siblings, she was getting ready to graduate college and her parents were looking to downsize. Moving from Lower Moreland Township, they wanted to buy a townhouse in Philadelphia, preferably in Old City.
"They loved old houses," Quinn said. "This home had just come up on the market, and they looked at it for fun; they weren't looking to buy it. But they just walked in and loved it, and realized it was special."
Eager to live in a part of our nation's history, Quinn says her parents helped preserve the property by restoring the floors and walls, and replacing the staircases, which were falling apart. They also renovated two of the attics and turned one into a bedroom with two bunk beds, and the other into two bedrooms, a sitting room, a full bath, and a double cedar closet.
"They kept the same look of the house," Quinn says. "They didn't make it modern."
Some of the original features include the floors, mouldings, and the fireplaces.
The property, which has seven bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths, sits on more than two-and-a-half acres. The backyard has a patio and a large side yard.
After 29 years of living in the historical home, Quinn says her father has decided to sell it now for $1.2 million. Her mother recently passed away, and her father is looking to move to a smaller home.
"The history is so cool and the land is beautiful," Quinn says. "You sit on the front porch in the warm weather and it's just amazing."