PlanPhilly

Furness-designed mansion sold in post-auction deal

    • The home, named for the original owner’s Welsh ancestors, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
      The home, named for the original owner’s Welsh ancestors, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
    • Interior details include a grand staircase and carved wood paneling
      Interior details include a grand staircase and carved wood paneling
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Dolobran, the  late 19th-century Haverford estate designed by the firm of Furness and Evans, has been sold for “over $1.5 million,” according to real estate agent Robin Gordon of Prudential Fox & Roach.

The 16,914-square-foot home at 231 Laurel Lane had gone up for auction on Oct. 6. But the bidding was below the opening price of $750,000, and the high offer that day was not accepted by the owner. “A post-auction deal was made with a different buyer,” said Gordon, who did not reveal the name of the new owner. 

Gordon said the sale process was “very successful” and the parties were “very pleased with the result.”

The 19-room house had been owned by Amy Nislow for the past 22 years. She put the property on the market at an original list price of $4.49 million, and it was later listed at $3.9 million.

Frank Furness began his work on the house in 1881 and modified the design over the next 14 years, moving from shingle and stick style to stone Victorian Gothic. The architect’s trademark style is found throughout the house, from its chimneys and fireplaces to dramatic staircase, ceilings and light fixtures.

The original owner was shipbuilder Clement Acton Griscom, who filled the house with his art collection of Rembrandt, van Dyck, Monet and Cassatt drawings, delft tiles, exotic glass and porcelain. 

The estate once covered 150 acres and included formal and wild gardens, a stream and lake for boating, farm buildings, and a golf course. The house now sits on 1.9 acres in the quiet, exclusive Main Line community.

A bronze plaque at the entrance to the home designates the property’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places. A terra cotta plaque on the south side bears a giant “G” for the original owner.

Griscom lived in the house for more than 30 years. When he died, most of the land was sold and subdivided and the outbuildings were demolished. The exterior and interior were restored in 1990 when Dolobran was utilized as a designer’s showcase. Most of the house appears in very good condition, except for the former ballroom, which sustained severe water damage and is need of considerable repair to its walls.

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About the author

Alan Jaffe, Contributor

Alan Jaffe has been a contributing writer for PlanPhilly since 2008, focusing on overlooked buidlings and historic preservation issues. He was a writer and editor in the newspaper industry for nearly 30 years, including eight at the Philadelphia Inquirer and nine at the South Jersey Courier-Post. He is currently the director of communications for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. He is also an antiques writer and collector and the author of “J. Chein & Co.: A Collector’s Guide to an American Toymaker.”

ajaffe@planphilly.com



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