by Shirley Hanson, Chestnut Hill Conservancy

A few weeks ago, a three-bedroom stone house on Navajo Street sold for “close to the highest dollar per square foot in Chestnut Hill.” There was demand: Nearly 20 showings over the course of four days resulted in six families placing offers.

I talked with Troy Brady, who, with his wife, Caryn Lerman, owned the house, to ask what may have resulted in this near record-setting sale and interest. There were several factors, though a few were most influential.

The house is located on a tranquil section of Navajo Street. Another compelling quality was its design by Robert McGoodwin in the 1930s. My experience sitting in the dining room amidst simple dark woodwork was heartwarming. I was struck by how the large casement windows guided light into every room of the house.

Also influencing the sale was Brady and Lerman’s attention to the “backbone” of the house. Instead of focusing on “fun renovations” such as the kitchen and bathrooms, they turned their attention to replacing the knob and tube wiring, replacing the pitted brass water pipes, installing a new air conditioning system and installing a new heating system, converting it from steam to hot water, to name a few.

Their relentless attention to their home’s core added significant peace of mind to potential buyers. The new copper pipes in the basement attracted attention. Together, they formed a gleaming sculpture that stood for the five years of exceptional oversight by the owners.

Brady and Lerman love old houses and treat them well. They moved from an old mill in Chadds Ford (circa 1825), which they gutted to make habitable. After living there for 15 years, they were drawn to the old city charm and walkability of the Chestnut Hill area.

Their work on their Chestnut Hill home encompassed “preserving the character of the outside,” with an investment in rebuilding the stone wall along the driveway and at the street, as well as laying large pieces of slate in the courtyard and front walkway.

“Working from home gave me the flexibility to research a project, analyze its feasibility and interview different contractors, all to discover the best solution,” Brady said.

“We make investments because we want to enjoy our time in the house we love,” he continued. “And we contribute to its future. In 200 years, this house will still be here.”

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