Instead of the ubiquitous brick, the tenements on Fairmount’s block face stucco modeled to resemble stone. It has a tiled mansard roof and a terraced vestibule.
Longtime neighbors call this block Centenary Boulevard. Built in 1876 to showcase fashionable residential architecture.
Marta and Michael Silverberg were so impressed with the distinctive home that they were intrigued when a real estate agent called in 2017 to say it was for sale.
Several brass light fixtures, walnut-inlaid red oak floors on the ground floor, heart pine floors on the second and third floors, parlor window shutters, stained glass entry doors, plaster, etc. remained many of its mid-Victorian features. Crown molding and walnut stairs.
The 1,850-square-foot home required a new kitchen, new wiring, and an air conditioning and heating system.
But there was another problem: The Silverbergs recently purchased an old Victorian house nearby, but it didn’t have the stylish features of the 1876 house.
Having worked as a contractor in the city for 30 years, Michael knew how to get the job done. He and Marta bought the Centennial home, renovated it while living in another house, and eventually sold it.
The Silverbergs have experience in home renovation and construction.
In the 1970s, they restored two vintage houses in Queen Village. Later, when he acquired two of his lots in Queen Village, he built a mansion modeled after a 19th-century carriage house. “It blended into the block,” Marta said.
In 1996, the couple moved to New Jersey for work. At one point, they considered buying a weekend retreat in Sussex County, New York. said Martha.
Instead, they decided to purchase a house in Fairmount as a weekend retreat and future nursing home. “We love Philadelphia and our daughter Abby was here,” said Michael.
He grew up in West Oak Lane. While attending Germantown High School and earning a business degree from Temple University, he worked for his uncle who was a machine contractor. His sister Ellen, an English as a Second Language teacher, introduced him to one of her students, Marta.
At 19, Marta left Cuba with her family and moved to Philadelphia. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Rosemont College and a master’s degree in history and business administration from Temple University.
Michael is now a consultant for an architecture firm in Manhattan. Marta is CEO of Monmouth Family Health Center in Long Branch, New Jersey.
In early August, we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary with a dinner party at the beautifully appointed Centennial House. Guests sat on the granite kitchen island, in the breakfast room, or in the garden by a gurgling fountain.
Marta, who said she was “worried” about how to integrate her new kitchen into her Victorian home, opted for 19th-century style white wood cabinetry.
The kitchen, breakfast room, powder room and pantry are carved out of the dining room, kitchen and back storeroom. Using the panel doors available after the bedrooms were joined and extending the crown molding from the front to the back of the house allowed the new to flow into the old.
Michael commissioned workers from his contractor days to professionally repair the plaster, recreate the moldings, and lay black and white marble in the bathroom.
Upstairs, the original bathroom’s clawfoot tub was refinished, the living room’s crumbling bay window was repaired, and the bedroom, dressing room, and bath were replaced by two bedrooms. The third floor contains the guest bedroom, bath, laundry, kitchenette and is adjacent to the outdoor deck.
In the basement there is an exercise room and a tool-filled workspace.
The parlor’s turquoise walls pick up the color of the Bradbury and Bradbury art wallpaper designs under the chair rails. The company’s wallpaper, which specializes in Victorian design, was also used in the foyer, powder room and original bathroom.
Ruby silk banquettes and chair cushions complement the colors of the Persian rug.
Restoration Hardware’s gold foil mirror above the parlor mantle is much longer than what Michael ordered. Despite all his expertise, he conceded.