The Perfect Fit
A historic home in a historic city neighborhood proved just right for the Burke family.
(page 4 of 4)
Named for the nearby estate of patriot Caesar Rodney, the land that is now Cool Spring stretches from Pennsylvania Avenue to Sixth Street and from Jackson Street to Clayton Street. The community is an architectural aficionado’s dream because it includes such landmarks as University & Whist Club, Padua Academy, the Swedenborgian Church of the Holy City and the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.
“It was where the merchants and managers lived,” says Ed Weirauch, vice president of the Cool Spring-Tilton Neighborhood Association. “The houses are grand, with wonderful moldings and tile work. And most of the houses are large—and so are the properties.”
In 1983 the neighborhood was named a historic district. But the community is not stuck in the past. It continues to evolve, most recently with the transformation of the Cool Spring Reservoir into a park for all residents to enjoy.
“There’s no isolation in the city,” Harold says. “When you head out for a 20-minute walk, it turns into an hour and a half because there are so many people to talk to.”
Weirauch says Cool Spring attracts people who enjoy the energy and convenience of city life, with the added benefit of mature trees and gardens. Joanne is an attorney. Harold is in security management for Amtrak.
“A lot of people walk to work,” Weirauch says. “It’s like an urban suburb.”
The prosperous painting contractor who commissioned the Burke house built it to last, with such details as raised panel doors, pocket doors and a claw-foot, cast-iron tub that are still functioning after more than 120 years.
As for the Burkes, they intend to spend the rest of their days in the elegant house on Eighth Street.
“I fell in love with Cool Spring, with the social life, the people, the communal spirit,” Joanne says. “I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
GET THE LOOK
- Shop around until you get it just right. The Burkes looked at more than 100 homes before they found the precise fit.
- Create a sanctuary. The Burkes love jazz, so they designated a third-floor family room as their listening area.
- Be neighborly. A front porch is a direct conduit to pedestrians in your neighborhood. If you don’t have a porch, say welcome with a small garden. Even an inviting stoop can spark friendships.
- Live with the things you love. The Burke home reflects their interests and experiences by blending family heirlooms, mementoes from travel and their appreciation for history.
- Embrace the unexpected. Many Victorian-era homes have back staircases that gave the staff ready access to the second floor. The Burke house boasts a spiral staircase in the kitchen.