The Billmeyer House in East Mount Airy is seeking a new steward for the first time in a generation.

It was from there, the story goes, that Gen. George Washington directed the Continental forces in the Battle of Germantown against the British stronghold in Cliveden.

But for 50 years, it has been home to architects Terry and David Vaughan, who are now headed to Oregon to be closer to their two children and their families in retirement.

Built in 1729, three years before Washington was born, it is named after Michael Billmeyer, a Germantown printer who purchased it in 1789.

In 21st-century real estate parlance, it is a six-bedroom, two-bath twin.

The house “has these primitive qualities, simplicity,” its owner says.
Gary G. Schempp
The house “has these primitive qualities, simplicity,” its owner says.

“There was a tiny ad in a newspaper. We saw [the house], and we fell in love with it,” says Terry, recalling the couple’s return from a worldwide tour following their graduation from the architecture graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, where they met.

Terry taught at Penn for decades and had a small private practice specializing in the interaction of buildings and landscape. David was a principal in the renowned Venturi, Scott Brown firm in Philadelphia.

The house “has these primitive qualities, simplicity,” Terry says. “The light enlivens all the rooms and constantly nourishes me.”

It has an 18th-century feel throughout, with 18-inch-thick Wissahickon schist walls, and original woodwork, doors, hardware, and wood plank floors. “Living in this unique, 300-year-old house connects us across time to the origins of this country,” Terry says.

The main bedroom is one of six in the house.
Gary G. Schempp
The main bedroom is one of six in the house.

The living room opens to a lower ceiling dining room with the original 1729 walk-in fireplace. Upstairs, the main bedroom steps down into a smaller bedroom. The third floor feels separate from the house, and the Vaughan children had their bedrooms there. Square footage is 1,498.

Besides the conversion of the third-floor attic into bedrooms and bath, the couple has made key improvements such as a washer/dryer in the kitchen, redesigned cabinets, and some modern lighting.

The house, which is in a historic district, has a curb cut for parking in the fenced-in rear yard. It is close to the Upsal regional rail station and to the shops on Germantown Avenue.

It is listed by Alex Aberle of Elfant Wissahickon-Chestnut Hill for $479,000.

The dining room features the original 1729 walk-in fireplace.
Gary G. Schempp
The dining room features the original 1729 walk-in fireplace.