Neumann University’s Chiara House — ‘an Enormous Gift to the Community’ — Wins Heritage Commission Award

Neumann University Chiara House
Image via Neumann University.
Neumann University converted an 1892 Victorian mansion into a residence hall for honors students.

The Heritage Commission of Delaware County has presented its 2021 Residential Rehabilitation Award to Neumann University for its restoration of the 1892 Rhodes mansion as Chiara House, a residence hall for honors students.

The program at the mid-May awards ceremony described the renovation of 601A Convent Road as “an enormous gift to the community” and the home as “Delaware County’s heritage at its finest, an immigrant family working and saving, taking advantage of American capitalism, sharing their success with family, employees, and community.”

Neumann purchased the home in February 2019 and spent more than a year renovating the three-story house. After serving as a bed-and-breakfast and an apartment building from 1992 to 2019, the home needed extensive refurbishing.

Work included restoration of the intricate moldings, fireplaces with tile work, grand staircase, wainscoting, and inlaid floors. The wrap-around porch was restored, and arched entryways, sliding pocket doors, and exterior leaded glass windows were retained.

The restored grand staircase in the Chiara House.

The stately 1892 Victorian structure opened its doors to 14 Neumann students, one graduate assistant, and a resident assistant on Aug. 29, 2020.

Students had to apply for the 14 spots in Chiara House. Criteria included enrollment in the university honors program, a GPA of 3.0 or above, and adherence to the student code of conduct.

The home was built by John B. Rhodes, who in 1885 purchased a large tract of land at what is now known as the corner of Convent Road and Aston Mills Road. The Rhodes brothers (John and Samuel) had been business owners in the area since 1864, when they acquired a gristmill on the west branch of Chester Creek at the bottom of the steep hill behind the house and converted it into a cotton and woolen factory.

John Rhodes sold the mansion and property in 1907, and there were two other longtime owners before Neumann purchased the house.

Learn more about Neumann University.

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