NEW HOPE, Pa. - New Hope's Cintra Mansion is now cracked, crumbling, and standing on a prayer, a devastating site for area historian Roy Ziegler.
“It's not just the house itself, but the history behind it,” he said.
Built in the early 1800's by industrialist William Maris and named after palace-rich Sintra Portugal, the Bucks County home was featured in a 1917 edition of the American Magazine of Art. Ironically, it was the beginning of Cintra's end.
“The problem started 100 years ago,” said Bob Hillier.
The world-renowned Princeton-based architect, who's owned the 5-acre property for a decade, says Cintra's sandstone is porous, and when wet eventually crumbles.
To save it, the historical house will be razed and replicated.
“In exact detail as the original was built. And what is standing there today is a long way from what was the original,” he added.
Some original materials can be saved. The new mansion will be a duplex, with four outbuildings as apartments, along with 23 new condominiums.
Borough council Vice President Laurie McHugh says Hillier had to pass strict guidelines for approval.
“It's heartbreaking for us when we lose a historic building. So we do all we can to try to preserve them. So it's not an easy decision on anybody on council,” McHugh said.
The area has a history of breathing new hope into old buildings. In 2018, Oddette's restaurant, built in the late 1700's, was lifted and moved to become part of a hotel.
Hillier's confident Cintra's new future will begin in 2024.
“The new owner is going to open it up and light it up, make it visible. So for the first time in memory, people will be able to see this mansion and understand whose it was and why it's there,” Ziegler said.