Your Neighbors’ Houses on Tour

In case you missed it in Sunday’s Inquirer, you’ll enjoy the article below about the Phillips’ “full-on Victorian” home, which will be on Saturday’s (12/8/2012) Holiday House Tour presented by the West Chester Public Library (all proceeds go to help our Library).

The Phillips’ have been involved with Marshall Square Park, their home fronts the Park, the Holiday House Tour supports a good neighborhood cause and can use publicity. So, we blasted the article to our entire membership and added it to the FMSP Website—for posterity.

Part of the FMSP Core Group, the Woodrow’s home is also on the Holiday House Tour, but it’s a bit north of the Park on N. Matlack. Also on the Tour are FMSP Members, the Clarks and McCanns of North Walnut Street and the Scotts of East Lafayette Street.

Get your HHT Tickets online

Bill Scott
N. Franklin St.

Sharing their Queen Anne style
West Chester home on annual holiday tour is decorated in full-on Victorian.

December 03, 2012 | By Christine Bahls, For The Inquirer

Would you cringe knowing 300 people were about to walk through your house over the course of a few hours?

Marybeth and Stephen Phillips of West Chester are expecting that many people Saturday, and they aren’t cringing. In fact, they’re looking forward to having guests in their Queen Anne-style home.

“They don’t come all at once,” Marybeth Phillips says matter-of-factly, referring to the visitors she and her husband will receive for the borough’s annual Holiday House Tour.

Besides, says Marybeth, 56, “the years that I have this big, comfortable spot, I want everybody to enjoy it. It’s a fun place. It’s a warm family home.”

The couple are seasoned entertainers. They bought their 3,300-plus-square-foot, five-bedroom home in 2000 with gatherings of all sorts in mind, says the owner of MB Phillips Music Productions. Steve Phillips, also 56, is president of Reilly Foam Corp., which has offices in several locations.

The product of a large extended Irish family, Marybeth says she grew up in a West Philadelphia household in which there were always political gatherings of some sort. Besides that, a relative or two was always at the dinner table.

In West Chester, the couple host a gathering each year for at least 100 people, she says.

“A house doesn’t mean stuff,” she says. It means get-togethers, dining, dancing. The couple have also hosted a medic from Iraq, who spoke about his experiences helping U.S. soldiers stationed there.

Marybeth and Steve, who also comes from a large family, had been living in West Goshen. They visited the West Chester house, still under construction, on a whim.

“We didn’t need to move,” she says, but she had two criteria if she did: brick sidewalks outside her front door and easy accessibility to a cup of coffee. In other words, she wanted to be able to walk into town.

But what persuaded them to buy was the quality of the construction. They were in the basement, Marybeth says, and looked up at the beams. ” ‘They do build them like they used to,’ we said.”

The couple have decorated like the Victorians used to. Marybeth says the style is gaudy, and she likes it that way: In the Queen Anne period, “everything was gaudy.”

It’s the wallpaper, primarily on the first floor, that makes the interior distinctive. Marybeth chose seven patterns for the living room ceiling, and three for the walls. “I did the ceilings because the Victorians did,” she says.

She didn’t pick little rosebud patterns, either. The 9-foot walls are big, bold, and colorful, with patterns that are intricately linked.

The dining room deserves a word or two, mainly because it holds Marybeth’s grandmother’s 130-year-old furniture. She hasn’t had it refinished, which adds to its charm.

The dining room was added on after the house was built. It is bathed in light from many windows, and is accessed by French doors from the kitchen. It, too, got the big-bold-wallpaper treatment.

But big and bold doesn’t dominate everywhere. The serene yellow kitchen has green laminate countertops and cream-colored, painted-maple cabinets. Sunlight streams through its many windows and a door that opens to the wraparound porch. (Steve has woven climbing hydrangeas into the porch railing.)

Also in the kitchen are glass-front cabinets – one holds Waterford crystal, another some Lenox china. The table and chairs, modeled after the set in Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s country home, were made by Amish artisans, who also crafted the kitchen cabinets, among other pieces – one of which, designed to look like a sideboard, holds part of the couple’s enormous music collection.

Visitors on the holiday tour pay $25 for advance tickets, with the money benefiting a local institution. For the last couple of years, proceeds have helped the West Chester Public Library, a favorite haunt of Marybeth’s. (Find tour details at www.wcpubliclibrary.org.)

So it’s safe to say she’s going all-out. There will be candles in more than 60 windows. Wreaths and swags will cover the porch. Live holly, grown on the property, will be cut and displayed in floral arrangements. The Christmas tree, a doll collection, and more have come out of storage.

Marybeth’s favorite ornament? One her mother-in-law gave her, designed and assembled by a 90-year-old blind nun. In an empty crab shell spray-painted gold are figures of the Holy Family.






The Library is again proud to present a Holiday Home Tour of 10 beautifully decorated homes in the northwest & northeast sections of West Chester Borough with one home located just outside the borough. This tour features “the old & the new,” spanning 130 years of home building history.

Mark your calendar and join us as we enjoy the homes graciously opened to benefit the West Chester Public Library through the Holiday Home Tour. (Snow date is Sunday, December 9, 2012)

  1. The Fiest’s, Brookside Court
  2. The Giuta’s, Locust Lane North
  3. The Vincent’s, West Virginia Avenue
  4. The Finn’s, North Church Street
  5. The Moussa’s, North High Street
  6. The Clark’s, North Walnut Street
  7. The McCann’s North Walnut Street
  8. The Woodrow’s, North Matlack Street
  9. The Phillips’, North Matlack Street
  10. The Scott’s, East Lafayette Street
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