If you have ever traveled through Philadelphia’s western Suburbs, you couldn’t have helped but notice the Grand Dames of the Main Line. As the wealthy industrialists built their gracious homes along the many stops of the old Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad in the 19th century, so they could escape the hot Philadelphia summers, their builders and architects created some of the most beautiful homes found in the United States today. The name of the railroad, which is now Philly’s main commuter rail, still lasts today to identify this part of the countryside. Like the name, the Grand Dames were built to last for centuries and many have been passed down from generation to generation.
Today, the homeowners of the Main Line are continuing to enjoy the leafy, rolling lanes lined with home after unique home, each more appealing than the next. One such home in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, which has been in the family for many years, was about to be restored and updated by the present Patriarch, knowing that he would be passing his home to the next generation with, not only an updated design, but with exterior products that would stand up to the tough elements that the Northeastern weather delivers, year after year.
Prior to the 2009 project, this 8,000 square foot stone Colonial had a unique swimming pool outside the rear entrance, separated from the home by a patio covered by a 90-foot long radius-shaped colonnade. Many of the windows had sills and casing that were rotting, while the stately recessed panel, outside corner posts were also in disrepair. Add to this, stone walls and patios, gates, lamp posts and porch columns – all begging for the attention of a talented designer/builder.
Enter Steve Shaw, owner of Crestland Associates of nearby Springfield, Pennsylvania. Shaw designed an exterior with many updates and changes. Aside from knowing that the home needed a new roof, a decision needed to be reached about the colonnade, which made for a dark entrance to the pool area, and also shaded the rear of the interior from sunlight. It was decided that the colonnade would be removed and replaced with three pergolas, one of which would create shade and aesthetic appeal over an outdoor kitchen. Much of the exterior millwork – columns, lamp posts, gates, window trim, and corner posts – would also need to be replaced with new materials with an eye on matching the longevity of the original materials, but outmatching the need for maintenance.
The owner wanted it to be as maintenance-free as he could get for himself, and durable enough for the future generations to enjoy without having to address scraping paint and rot. The answer would come with Cellular PVC Millwork.
Crestland, dealing through their local building materials supplier, J&L Building Materials, in Frazer, PA, found the partnership he needed with INTEX Millwork Solutions, a millwork shop based in Southern New Jersey. Intex was able to fabricate all of the items that Shaw had designed – not with wood, which is apt to rot prematurely, but with Cellular PVC material, which after painting, can not be distinguished from fine wooden mouldings. Furthermore, since the Cellular PVC does not absorb moisture, there would be nothing that could separate the finish coat of paint from the finished product. The paint will never crack or peel.