The main section’s stunning staircase and abundant moldings were preserved, serving as inspiration for formal spaces like the library and music room.
Time was running out for Clocktower Farm when Beth and Chris Knauer pulled up to the iconic Chester County estate seven years ago. Clocktower’s distinguished history dates to 1703, when the land was patented by William Penn. But in 2016, the once-elegant mansion was dilapidated and headed to auction the next day. A developer was poised to buy the eight-acre property and raze the manor house and outbuildings to make way for new luxury homes.
The mantel in the kitchen—Beth’s happy place—is a replica of one that noted Colonial Revival architect Brognard Okie designed for his Chester County home in the early 20th century.
Salvaged leaded-glass windows now sparkle in the butler’s pantry.
At the top of their to-do list was a design that would restore the charm and integrity of the original 1830 mansion and also provide 21st-century comfort and function. “How do we make this odd house with its additions into a house where a family lives?” Chris recalls thinking at the time. The Knauers looked to Archer & Buchanan Architecture to come up with a plan that reflected their lifestyle and made it easy to host events for nonprofit groups. “The house needed to serve as an elegant venue for large philanthropic events while maintaining a scale and sense of coziness appropriate for empty nesters on a daily basis,” says Alex Rice, the project’s architect.
His solution: Create numerous small gathering spaces and seating areas, with an open flow to accommodate guests. Each space offers a unique view of a property focal point, including a barn reinterpreted as an events venue.
Builders Pancoast & Clifford removed the incompatible renovations, replacing them with a new two-story addition and large open porches ideal for admiring the bucolic setting. The main section’s stunning staircase and abundant moldings were preserved. They served as the inspiration for lovely formal spaces like the library and music room (Chris’s favorite spot in the home).
Builders Pancoast & Clifford removed the incompatible renovations, replacing them with a new two-story addition and large open porches ideal for admiring the bucolic setting.
Old stone from the demolished addition was cut and reused as door thresholds. The original lockboxes, brass doorknobs, cast-iron rat-tail hinges and other historic hardware were restored. Salvaged leaded-glass windows in the butler’s pantry refract the setting sun like prisms. “We reused everything we possibly could,” Chris says.
They also borrowed from the best. The mantel in the kitchen—Beth’s happy place—is a replica of one that noted Colonial Revival architect Brognard Okie designed for his Chester County home in the early 20th century. It’s one of 11 fireplaces in the house, which also benefits from the impeccable interior design touches of Patricia Gorman Associates.
A new sunken garden is now part of the estate’s legacy.
The barn was reinterpreted as an events venue, and the 68-foot clocktower was restored from the ground up.