Mid-Atlantic Historic Preservation Services LLC

David Kimmerly, President
1137 Park Ave
Lansdale, PA 19446

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Most Recent Project Completed
George Bodenstein Mansion
National Register Determination of Eligibility
July 2012

Setting and Architectural Description

George Bodenstein was a skilled chair maker who partnered with Gustave Kuemmerle to form the Bodenstein and Kuemmerle Chair Co. one of the largest furniture manufacturers in Philadelphia during the late 19th and early 20th century.  Bodensteins mansion was built c.1903 in Fort Washington, Upper Dublin Township, Montgomery County, PA.  Fort Washington is a railroad oriented, first-ring suburb north of Philadelphia.

The overall style of the residence is Colonial Revival.  The roof is hipped with a widows walk that previously had a balustrade around it.  Across the main facade are three gable dormers, the center one with a rounded arch and a circular cartouche.  The two dormers flanking the center one have triangular pediments above each.  There are internal gable end chimneys at each end of the mansion.  Under the eaves of the house are closely spaced brackets, dentils and a frieze.  The front porch of the house is supported by paired Ionic Columns.  The walls are constructed of stone.  All of the windows are made of wood.

In general, the interior of the house retains paneled wainscot, plastered walls, wide plank wood flooring, and modest wood window trim.  The first floor consists of a wide central hall with an opulent main staircase.  It has two highly carved newell posts, turned spindles, and paneled wainscot.  Along the hallway of the main staircase is a built-in bench with lion head carved arm rests.  On the way up the stairs, on the landing, there is a leaded glass enclosed room with double leaf doors.  The room is referred to as a conservatory on c. 1903 plans for the mansion.

History of George Bodenstein and His Mansion

George Bodenstein was a successful Philadelphia chair maker working in partnership with Gustave Kuemmerle.  The Bodenstein and Kuemmerle Chair Company grew significantly during the late 19th century and early 20th century.  The Industrial Directory of Pennsylvania of 1919 was used to determine that his company was the third largest in Philadelphia with 173 employees.  While his company specialized in the manufacture of chairs, and specifically cane seat chairs, he also made all types of furniture for home and office.  The company seems to have been a strictly wholesale operation.  In addition, the Hexamer Surveys of the Philadelphia show that his factory grew through the 1880s and 1890s from a complex of small buildings to a large building that occupied nearly an entire city block.  

George Bodenstein's business success resulted in the construction of this magnificent mansion in suburban Fort Washington.  According to the Philadelphia City Directories,  during the early growth of his business, George Bodenstein lived in modest three story row houses in the vicinity of his factory.  In 1896 he began purchasing land in Fort Washington and, based on a 1903 article in the Ambler Gazzette, he commissioned Minneapolis architect Walter J. Keith Company to design his mansion and hired local builder E.G. Ford to build the residence.  

Project List

While employed at Preservation Pennsylvania:

---Pennhurst State School and Hospital, East Vincent Township, Chester County, PA, Provided advice and technical assistance to the Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance regarding the preservation, rehabilitation and economic sustainability of the property, 2009 to 2011.

An abandoned building at Pennhurst.

---Hawley Silk Mill, Hawley Borough, Wayne County, PA, Provided technical assistance for the conversion of the former Bellemonte Silk Mill to retail, office and educational space, 2009 to 2010.  See also National Trust for Historic Preservation Blog "Hawley Silk Mill: A Successful Combination of Historic Rehabilitation and Environmental Sustainability."

---Fricks Lock Historic District, East Coventry Township, Chester County, PA. Member of the Fricks Lock restoration task force along with the property owner: Exelon Corporation, and other stakeholders including East Coventry Township Historical Commission, Schuylkill River Heritage Area, Chester County Parks and Recreation, and State representatives, 2009 to 2011. 

---Schuylkill Township Historical Commission, Schuylkill Township, Chester County, PA, Provide technical assistance and review of the township's historic resource overlay zoning ordinance, historic resource survey and inventory, and assisted with advocacy regarding demolition of the Schuylkill School, 2010 to 2011.

While Employed at Heritage Conservancy:

---Henry W. Breyer House, Cheltenham Township, Montgomery County, PA, National Register nomination for the mansion of the owner of Breyer's Ice Cream. It was designed by Koelle, Speth & Co. in Colonial Revival style and built in 1890, 2002 to 2003.

---George Nakashima Workshop and Residence, Solebury Township, Bucks County, PA, National Register nomination for the property where world renowned woodworker and modern furniture maker George Nakashima operated his business and resided with his wife and family.  Examples of uniquely designed and engineered mid-century modern buildings, most designed by Nakashima, 2007 to 2008.

---Springhouse Farm,/Eric Knight House, Springfield Township, Bucks County, PA, National Register nomination for the home where Eric Knight wrote the book Lassie Come Home and other works, 2006 to 2007.

---West Rockhill Historic Resource Survey, West Rockhill Township, Bucks County, PA, Conducted a windshield survey of hundreds of historic properties in the township for the historical society and township government. Provided EXCEL, ACCESS and GIS database of the properties surveyed, 2007 to 2008. 

A barn surveyed as part of the West Rockhill Historic Resource Survey.

Gravestone at a church photographed for 
the West Rockhill Historic Resource Survey.

---Cheltenham Board of Historic Architecture Review consultant, Cheltenham Township, Montgomery County, PA, 2006, 2007.

---Jacob Arndt House and Barn, Williams Township, Northampton County, PA National Register nomination, 2004 to 2005.

---Ambler Streetscape Improvement Project, Ambler Borough, Montgomery County, PA, Section 106 Determination of Effect Report, 2003.

---Chalfont Historic District, Chalfont Borough, Bucks County, PA, National Register nomination, 2005 to 2006.

---Yardley Historic District, Yardley Borough, Bucks County, PA, National Register nomination, 2005.

---Sharples Estate/Greystone Hall, West Goshen Township, Chester County, PA, Section 106 Determination of National Register eligibility report, 2006 to 2007.

---Route 113 Heritage Corridor, Bucks and Montgomery Counties, PA, historic resource survey and heritage tourism site identification to promote tourism along the route. 2004 to 2008.

While employed at Montgomery County Planning Commission:

---Montgomery County (PA) Comprehensive Plan, wrote the historic preservation chapter of the Montgomery County Comprehensive Plan update, 2003.

---Historic Preservation Overlay Zoning Ordinance, Upper Moreland Township, Montgomery County, PA, worked with the historical society and township government to write, gain public consensus for, and get the commissioners to approve a historic preservation overlay zoning ordinance, 2002.

---Nathaniel Boileau Farmstead, Upper Moreland Township, Montgomery County, PA, National Register determination of eligibility, 2003.

While employed at McCormick Taylor Associates:

---American Parkway PennDOT project, Allentown, Lehigh County, PA Section 106 determination of eligibility report and historic resource survey including documentation of Western Electric/Bell Labs building a mid-century modern factory and offices where transistors and integrated circuits (silicon chips) were first mass produced, 1999.

---Cauffiel Parkway DELdot project, Wilmington, DE, Section 106 determination of eligibility report including documentation of the Daniel Cauffiel House.  Cauffiel was the corporate real estate director for the Dupont Company in the early 20th century, 2000.

As a volunteer:

---Oak Park Historic District, Hatfield Township, Montgomery County, PA, National Register nomination, 1997 to 1998, Oak Park is a 30 house,circa 1912, gated suburban development near Lansdale, PA with early 20th century bungalows, cottages and Colonial Revival residences.

A cottage house in winter in the Oak Park Historic District.

A Henry Mercer tile, Indian Bow and Arrow, in the gates to Oak Park.

Oak Park 1912, Henry Mercer tiles on the gates to Oak Park.

Indian Making Fire, Henry Mercer tile, on the gates to Oak Park.