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“Windon,” Samuel Shipley House

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1857; 1882, Furness and Evans. W. Market St. and Mansion House Dr., 1.1 miles southwest of West Chester

Frank Furness incorporated a plain local rubble stone, gable-roofed farmhouse of 1857 into a climate-driven summerhouse for the president of Provident Bank. By adding a master bedroom carried on wood piers on the east side of the house, Furness created a portecochere that marked the new side entrance. A remarkable library extending from the center of the main facade rides the crest of the ridge on which the house sits, capturing every breeze in its oversized windows. Servants’ quarters were cantilevered on massive brackets above the rear kitchen wing in the manner of the bedrooms above the kitchen wing of Gravers Lane Station in Philadelphia ( PH170), while the brick chimney of the pair of bedroom fireplaces appears to magically arise out of a clapboarded wall. In fact, it is carried on iron railroad tracks lurking below the flagstones. Because of its location outside of the city, the house required a water tower. Furness adapted it to the problem of a summerhouse by incorporating an office for Shipley in the second story that would be cooled by the evaporation of the wood tank above. In appearance the water tower was a cross between a medieval Italian tower and a frontier stockade of the sort that Furness would have known from his cavalry service in the Civil War. The tower's demolition sometime after 1973 was among the most significant recent losses in Furness's oeuvre.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas


What's Nearby


George E. Thomas, "“Windon,” Samuel Shipley House", [West Chester, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 2

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, George E. Thomas, with Patricia Likos Ricci, Richard J. Webster, Lawrence M. Newman, Robert Janosov, and Bruce Thomas. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 248-248.

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