George Marrone renovates a A Mid-Century Modern home in Brandywine Hundred, Delaware
Rat Pack Redo: Blend 1950s cool with Frank Lloyd Wright, and this is what you get.
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George Marrone was born a decade after mid-century modern design left its cool, indelible stamp on architecture and interior design.
He grew up in a two-story Colonial-style home in Brandywine Hundred. As a young man, he bought his own traditional house on Philadelphia’s Main Line.
But Marrone yearned for a home in sync with his inner hipster, a structure with the lean, spare lines of a Noguchi table, the uncluttered swoosh of an Eames chair, the unadulterated sophistication of a Rat Pack bar.
“I don’t know what my inspiration was, only that I have always loved the style,” he says.
Indeed. His niece and nephew used Lego blocks to make him a model of Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s contemporary masterpiece in western Pennsylvania. Marrone stalked 1950s lamps and 1960s
pottery on eBay and stowed the pieces in the attic after the packages arrived, hoping some day he would find a home for them.
“Wherever I went, I would drive around looking for modern houses,” he recalls.
It is unlikely that he would have cruised by the mid-century property tucked deep in a secluded, heavily wooded enclave that backs to Shellpot Creek in Brandywine Hundred.
But when he spied the house two years ago through an online real estate site, he was immediately smitten.
A personal visit sealed the deal.
Marrone walked through a broad entry into a foyer with a flagstone floor. A sweeping, curved staircase led to a bridge-like corridor overlooking the living areas. He gazed up and was captivated by a soaring cathedral ceiling of natural Douglas fir with big, beefy beams.
“I knew I had to live in this house, even though I already owned a perfectly nice house,” he says. “Everything I wanted was right here.”
The house was built in 1959 by esteemed Delaware artist Carolyn Blish and her husband, the late DuPont executive Stanley Blish. The 1.5-acre lot was located next to a home owned by the painter’s father.
“We loved the setting, being so close to nature,” recalls Blish, now 82 and living in Lancaster, Pa. “We picked the plan out of a magazine and thought, wow, this is really cool.”
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