Saturday, March 6, 2010

Catasauqua, Pennsylvania $1,250,000

Bedrooms: 20
Approximate square footage: 24000
Contact: Randy Wagner

The D. G. Dery Mansion
circa 1900, 1910 and 1917

The D. G. Dery Mansion is located in the Catasauqua Residential Historic District (listed to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984) which includes 63 contributing residential buildings. The D. G. Dery Mansion was constructed in 1900 in a Georgian Revival style but was substantively enlarged between 1910 and 1917 to become the largest and most architecturally significant house in the district and Lehigh County. The grand Classical Revival mansion with Beaux Art influences covers almost the entire length of the block and its size is accentuated by massive columns on its primary porch and east elevation's portico.

Desiderius George Dery (1867-1942) was born in Austria and studied textiles at the Vienna Textile Academy before immigrating to the United States in 1891. Dery moved his family to Catasauqua and constructed a large Colonial Revival two-and-a-half story home. His financial success from his silk mills was quickly reflected in his primary residence. From 1910-1917, his home at 520 Fifth Avenue was dramatically enlarged, adding a full-height third floor and large three-story additions to the building's west and south facades. Included in these renovations were a large stained glass skylight constructed in the Tiffany-style in the primary stair hall, a roof top astronomical observatory, an indoor thirty-five foot mosaic tile swimming pool, art gallery, and a basement-level 1,500 square foot ballroom. The house became a symbol of Dery’s financial success with elaborate decorative elements on both the interior and exterior. His renovations including numerous stained glass windows, Italian walnut wainscoting, massive limestone columns, a Moravian tiled terrace, were rumored to have cost in excess of $1.5 million in 1917.

The Classical Revival-styled mansion with extensive limestone embellishment of decorative details, such as window sills, lintels with center keystones and jack arches, dentil cornice, impressive fluted columns and pilasters, terrace balustrade, parapet balustrade, and door surrounds is of masonry construction with reinforced concrete structure and brick curtain walls. The house also features a mixture of stained and decorative art glass windows, two flat top roof terraces, expansive two story portico, marble fireplaces, conservatory, solarium, extensive block paneling, coffered ceilings, parquet hardwood floors, basement Rathskellar with Gothic plaster ceiling, The south wing on the first floor was originally a massive single room with extensive plaster moldings that housed Mr. Dery's art collection. And the house still contains the original Otis elevator that services all five levels of the house. An extensive tunnel system links the main house to the ancillary outbuildings and carriage house.

The second floor plan of the house is similar to that of the first floor with rooms opening off of the main stair hall. A long corridor connects to the stair hall and runs south along the front wall of the south wing. Most of the rooms are arranged into suites although they retain a number of original decorative features like hardwood floors, plaster walls and ceilings. Some rooms have paneled walls or built-in bookshelves. Most rooms retain their deep molded woodwork with baseboards, crown molding, and door and window surrounds.

The main block of the D.G. Dery Mansion has a third floor that consists of four smaller rooms opening off of the center hall. The third floor throughout has plaster walls and ceilings, molded wood baseboard, door and window architraves, and crown molding in some of the rooms. There is access out to the rear roof deck from the southernmost bedroom. The western wing roof deck can be accessed from this section of the mansion, and from the former observatory located in the southwest corner of the building. This room opens from the utilitarian stair tower.

The basement level of the mansion contains a commercial kitchen, lounge, bar, ballroom, and several storage rooms. Just off of the secondary Pine Street entrance is a formal entrance hall that holds the main stair, complete with the same decorative metal balustrade present on its upper floors. The walls of the stair hall are covered with flush marble wainscot. The main lounge is a long narrow room with rough plaster walls and ceiling with a plaster cove cornice. The room has a decorative wooden mantel and cornice. The room opens into a second room located within the rounded tower. Its western wall is rounded like that of the first floor dining room. The ceiling in the bar is decorated with delicate, decorative molding arranged in a geometric pattern. Around the rounded west wall are several leaded glass double-hung windows. The upper sash contains a hand-painted window plaque that depicts a hunting motif. The lead cames are arranged with hexagonal shapes with smaller squares between. The wooden sash and frames have dramatic termite damage.

The large ballroom is located within the large south wing. There is a decorative stair in the southwest corner of the ballroom. The stair gently curves with graceful handrails and sloping closed stringers. There is a decorative metal balustrade and newel posts and a paneled spandrel. The ballroom does open into a smaller room to the south of the stairs currently used as storage. The room has a coffered ceiling.

Other prominent spaces located in the basement include a large multi-room commercial kitchen, a large vault located along the east wall and several storage areas located in the western rear extension. The property included several subterranean tunnels that accessed other areas that were either part of the property or instrumental in the running the house, including one connecting to the underground concrete room that houses the heating plant. The tunnel system also houses the electrical, sewer, water, and gas utilities.

In addition to the main mansion, there is a frame, Late Victorian Carriage house located in the southeast corner of the property. The one-and-a-half story building was constructed c. 1899 and features a large complex roof with several cross gables and dormers. The roof is covered with slate and has a small louvered ventilator. There is a mixture of lattice casement windows and double-hung Queen Anne sash. An apartment is located on the second floor of the carriage house. There is also a brick, early-twentieth century garage to the west of the carriage house. The garage is one-story in height with a flat roof with a short brick parapet wall topped with terra cotta coping tiles. The garage has symmetrically placed eight-over-one double-hung wood windows.
The house is under renovation and in progress upgrades include, new wiring, new plumbing, energy efficient window, exterior brick re-pointing and exterior painting, and new water supply line.

  • Located in Catasauqua Historical District
  • Close proximity to new Bethlehem Gaming Center
  • Currently zoned for 20 room B&B with Banquet Facility
  • Current replacement value (in current condition) is $4M - $5M
  • Current asking price of $1.25M equates to +/- $50 per square foot
  • Complete architectural drawings included
  • Currently approved for capture of historic tax credits
  • Limited Liability Corporation which holds title to the structure is available as well which will avoid real estate transfer tax
  • Improvements include removal of old baths and kitchens
  • Replacement of 90% of windows with high quality energy efficient wood windows
  • Sandblasting and epoxy painting of all exterior ornamental metal trim
  • Powerwashing of building exterior
  • Completion of 90% of repointing of building exterior
  • Installation of new 2” copper plumbing riser


Anonymous said...

This piece of Victorian history needs to be perserved - someone needs to come it's rescue - P L E A S E!

Too bad, the Historical Society of Catasauqua does not have a "generous" benefactor who cares about the past as a key to the future, adds some antiquities, and opens the Mansion for tours like those offered in Newport RI, Hearst Castle, The Biltmore Estate!
IMAGINE! Catasauqua becoming a hub of tourism - wow....think of the possitilities!

Anonymous said...

I pass this home every night when I deliver papers and when I hit the lottery it will be mine.I will restore it to all it glory.Then I will invite all my friends that are struggling to come live there and open the kitchen for the homeless so they can get hot meals.