Philip Taylor House
The Philip Taylor House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
The Phillip Taylor House (also known as Pennsylvania Memorial Home) is a 2-story Italian Villa residence, executed in brick. In its present state, it consists of three rectangular units: the original section with a hipped roof and glazed belvedere, a 2-story brick section to the right of the main portion, and a wood frame section appended in the angle of the ell formed by the intersection of the first two units. The facade is essentially unaltered from the original and features a symmetrically-arranged 5-bay configuration highlighted by an elaborately-ornamented open wood porch. The porch itself is richly decorated with bracketry, molded pillars, consoles, and pendants. The main door is centered on the facade and features a round-arched void, trimmed with classically-inspired mouldings and an elaborate keystone. The doorway itself consists of double doors, paneled, with the upper panel of each being glazed. Fenestration on the original section consists of segmental-arched voids with 2/2 sash and elaborate surrounds with Renaissance-derived full entablature heads, some triangular and others with segmental pediments. An elaborate cornice features paired brackets and a frieze trimmed with paneled mouldings and dentils. The peak of the hipped roof is crowned with an extremely fine glazed belvedere, typical of the period. The belvedere is ornamented with three closely-set round-arched windows on each side, and has paired brackets and its own hipped roof with center gables.
The brick section to the left of the main house is slightly smaller in scale than the older portion. It, and the wood frame section appended to it, have flat-arched windows. The wood frame section was built no doubt well after the other sections, perhaps when the complex was converted for use as a resort, or later when it became a retirement center. When the complex was converted for use as the Memorial Home, a mansarded section of brick was built behind the Italian Villa unit. This later section was removed in the mid-1970s when the property ceased to be used as a nursing facility. Great pains were taken to accurately reproduce the window surrounds when the rear of the house was exposed.
No historic outbuildings remain, although the area was apparently, dotted with dependencies in the early days. When the new nursing facility was built to the left and rear of the older building, the site was compromised to some extent, but the commanding setting that remains with the house, including the orchard and sweeping yards to the front is amply demonstrated. The national registered property includes only the Taylor house and the adjoining vacant land.
The Phillip Taylor House is national registered primarily for its architecture and for its association with an early lumber industrialist. The house is a magnificent example of Italian Villa architecture, a style which swept the East and Midwest in the period immediately preceding the Civil War. While Brookville has more than its share of fine residences, this is clearly one of the finest; its rich detailing and essentially uncompromised facade and belvedere make it a landmark of unquestioned significance to the town. It also derives a secondary significance from its long association with humanitarian concerns in Brookville, since from 1890 until the 1970s it was used as a nursing facility for the aged.
The house was built by Phillip Taylor (1812-1872) a York County, Pennsylvania native who came to Brookville in 1841 and very shortly thereafter erected his mansion on a knoll commanding a spectacular view of Sandy Lick Creek and Brookville itself. An 1878 atlas account maintains that "the view from any direction is lovely... Art and nature are well combined, and it is a home of which any man of aesthetic tastes might be proud." Taylor came to Brookville to set up lumber mills and operated two, the "Red" Mill and Tunnel Mill for many years. In 1856 he became a director of the Red Bank Navigation Co., and was charged by the State Legislature to clear Red Bank, Sandy Lick, and North Fork Creeks of all obstructions for transportation. The significance of the lumber industry to the area cannot be overemphasized: in 1854 lumbering in the Red Bank valley along was estimated to exceed 20,000,000 feet per year. Taylor excelled in his endeavors, and was an organizer and the first president of the National Bank of Brookville. From 1866 to 1871 he served as an associate judge. After his death in 1872, the property remained in the family for a time, but was eventually converted to the "Hotel Longview," serving as a resort and hostel to persons arriving in Brookville by train — the station being located a short distance from the site. In 1889, the Women's Relief Corps of the Department of Pennsylvania, an offshoot of the Grand Army of the Republic, paid $30,000 for the property and turned it into a soldiers' home. In one form or another, it has retained that usage until very recently.
McKnight, W.J. Jefferson County, Pennsylvania: Her Pioneers and People (Chicago: J. H. Beers, 1917).
Scott, Kate M. History of Jefferson County, Pennsylvania (Syracuse, New York: D. Mason % Co., 1888).