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Lower Merion Conservancy Showcases Million-Dollar Mansions

Historic preservation group debuts conservancy showcase tour.

Debuting a new house tour series, the Lower Merion Conservancy will showcase six historic mansions throughout the township this weekend.

Featuring historically preserved or restored homes on the market from $1.4 to $8 million, the group welcomes house-hunters, historical architecture nuts and other interested folks into Merion, Gladwyne, Villanova and Haverford mansions.

"People who come are typically interested in historic architecture and the environment surrounding Lower Merion and Narberth," Historic Preservation Director Lori Salganicoff said.

Meeting at the  of Ardmore Oct. 16 at 1 p.m., the tour will weave through stately Victorians, well-preserved mansions, and homes that protect the vision of influential architects, like Charles Barton Keen and Frank Furness. Other homes have won awards for historic preservation.

The list of specific tour homes is kept secret until patrons begin their trek. The conservancy promises a 94-year old Georgian Revival, and its newest addition—an $8-million, nine-bedroom Villanova home from 1927—among others.

In compiling the tour, the conservancy looks for homes that are built by important architects and are at least 50 years old (with many being 75 to 80), but mostly "homes that have maintained historic integrity, where we can still see the hand of the builder," Salganicoff said. 

All homes are currently on the market. "Realtors want people to see these homes, and we'd love for people who care about historic homes to purchase them," she said.

Some homes are on township preservation lists, so if purchased Salganicoff said they have some requirements and benefits. Best-case scenario, these homes provide examples of great ways to live in houses from another era.

"There are many ways to renovate and restore historic homes, and specifically you'll see great work done in kitchens and bathrooms," she said.

This tours kicks off an historic preservation lecture series, which will feature talks through December at , Rathalla at , the Dolobran Garden in Haverford, and the .

For the showcase tour, the Lower Merion Conservancy is OK with window-shopping, too.

"Even if you're not interested in purchasing an historic mansion, they are certainly nice to look at," Salganicoff said.

For more information on the Sunday tour or lecture series, visit the Lower Merion Conservancy's website. The cost for the tour is $25 for nonmembers, and it begins at 1 p.m.

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