The brick twin in Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill neighborhood is the “favorite” of all the many places Ann and Ed Jenkins have lived during their 52-year marriage.
Ed’s career as an Air Force meteorologist sent him to bases all over the United States and abroad. Ann counts 17 moves since she and Ed left Memphis, where they met in a high school science class, including to Texas, New Jersey, Nebraska, Illinois, and Germany.
In Nebraska, the “worst weather” posting, Ed was off helping safely land planes in a tornado while Ann sheltered in the bathroom under a mattress with her toddler son and baby daughter. In Illinois, base housing had cracked linoleum floors and shabby metal kitchen cabinets. In Germany, a 2½-gallon water heater above the sink made washing dishes a challenge.
They had good times, though, with opportunities to travel. While in Germany, the family spent vacations camping all over Europe in their Volkswagen bus.
That same bus hauled a grandfather clock Ed had purchased through the Black Forest. The clock now sits in the Chestnut Hill dining room. Five others Ed collected over the years include a 1780 clock from Denmark and an unusual elechrometer wall clock from 1900 made in St. Louis.
Prints arranged on a living-room wall represent some of the countries the couple visited: the Netherlands, Denmark, France, England, and Germany.
After Ed retired from the Air Force with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1993, he and Ann traveled the country in an RV for a year. They then settled in Raleigh, N.C., where Ed worked in emergency management for the state, and Ann, who has a master’s degree in microbial physiology, did research for a biotech firm.
When their son and daughter married and settled in the Philadelphia suburbs, the Jenkinses began looking for a home in the area to be close to them and the grandchildren, now numbering five. Son Michael made use of his childhood experiences and owns a moving company.
Before finding their 1920s twin, the Jenkinses searched for five years in a 100-mile radius of Philadelphia. Chestnut Hill was high on Ann’s list; she had gone on a tour there in the 1980s when Ed was stationed at McGuire Air Force Base in South Jersey.
“It’s walkable like a European village,” she said, and there’s a train to Center City.
The couple moved to their home in 2015, after a year of renovations. A new kitchen features a large window overlooking the patio and a herringbone oak floor. A shallow closet next to a breakfast nook became a powder room with a pocket door. The brass rubbing of a medieval knight on the wall came from Edinburgh, Scotland.
Ann said she wanted to create a comfortable Parisian-style environment. Gas logs in the living-room fireplace glow, and mirrors purchased at flea markets reflect light. There are cozy seating areas throughout the house.
Carpenter Matt Weldon installed wainscoting in the entry and crown molding in the dining room to match the living-room molding. Ann calls the entry walls a “dusty blue green.” The rest of the living area is “clay-beige” with white woodwork.
Weldon built a china cabinet in the dining room to balance an existing glass-door cabinet. Inside, Ann displays her mother’s floral-patterned china, ruby Bohemian glass purchased in Denmark, and Waterford crystal from an auction in Illinois. The crystal chandelier in the dining room came from Tennessee.
Ann’s brother built the mantel in the master bedroom on the second floor. The crystal chandelier there came from Germany, and the king-sized bed with upholstered headboard was purchased from a Restoration Hardware outlet store. The master bath has been enlarged.
Ed has an office on the second floor, and Ann has a sewing room. A guest room and a bath are on the third floor.
Ann made most of the home’s window treatments and is sewing drapes for the dining room. They are the same shade as the entry walls. When she was constantly moving, she learned never to spend more than $20 for window coverings that were not going to fit windows in the next apartment or house.
She and Ed trust this dwelling will be their final, as well as favorite, home.
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