Area Guides for Philadelphia and the Surrounding Counties in Pennsylvania & New Jersey
Tucked away in Chestnut Hill, the Vanna Venturi House.

One of our newest listings is garnering a lot of press this week. Melanie Stecura of our Philadelphia office listed the Vanna Venturi House in Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill neighborhood. The availability of this house for the first time since 1973 is causing a bit of shock and awe in the world of architecture.

For those of us who are mere “armchair architects,” what makes the Vanna Venturi House  so special? It is, after all, modest in scale and not at all a typical home design, particularly for Chestnut Hill. Designed by Robert Venturi between 1959 and 1964 for his mother, Vanna Venturi House is widely considered the first postmodern building in the United States, a little building with big ideas around every corner, a statement against the modernism that was so revered in that era, when flat roofs and sheet-glass picture windows were all the rage.

The interior is pretty much exactly as Robert Venturi designed it in 1964.
The interior is pretty much exactly as Robert Venturi designed it in 1964.

Mrs. Venturi, nearing 70 years of age when the project began, wanted a home with the main living space on one floor. She and her husband had collected antiques, so these pieces needed accommodation as well. After a five-year design-and-build process, Venturi had created his masterpiece.

We won’t embarrass ourselves by trying to say more about this house. We’re leaving that to the professionals; as architects and critics have written about it in stacks of books, essays and probably Ph.D. dissertations, we thought we’d link to some of the more educational examinations of Venturi’s design.

First up: an interactive look at Vanna Venturi House as one of “10 Buildings That Changed America,” a television program produced by WTTW, Chicago’s public television station.

Next: in 2010 decided to dissect this now-classic house.

Finally: Vanna Venturi House on is a place where you can nerd out and look at early drawings for the house and skim some commentary from people with strong opinions about the design.

Those who are seriously interested in being the next steward of this beyond-special residence should contact Melanie Stecura in our Philadelphia real-estate office: 917.757.4309 or 215.735.2225 ext 316.

–Valerie Patterson

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