It sits on a quiet Moorestown corner. A second-floor rounded portico comes into view once that corner is turned, and so does the unmistakable grace and inherent elegance of this traditional home.

Every time she passed it, Stacey Jordan felt a pull toward the classic colonial. “Even as a kid, I just loved looking at it,” recalls Jordan. But own it? Not even on the radar screen.

Stacey and AJ Jordan and their four kids lived just a block away in a Cape Cod house they’d added on to – and were about to add on to again. “We’d outgrown the first renovation and were bracing for the second,” says Stacey, now Moorestown’s mayor. (Stacey is the daughter of Vince Farias, a longtime Burlington County Freeholder, and his daughter’s inspiration for a political life.)

But when the couple learned the house they both loved was on the market, they couldn’t contain their curiosity.

The moment Stacey saw the home, empty but just as beautiful as she had imagined, she was smitten. “I honestly stood there decorating it in my mind, which meant owning it.”

2 Mooristown_0196-1478

The stunning home sits on a quiet street

The very good news: the sellers had done an extensive renovation – but with fidelity to the home’s 1923 roots. “Its wonderful condition was definitely on the plus side,” says AJ, who was not looking forward to the disruption of another addition on the property they already owned.

Admittedly, their personality styles are different: AJ is likely to be organized and to think in a linear, logical way. Stacey is the marriage’s soaring sail to his anchor. And yes, it works.

It turns out that love, logic and instinct won out as the couple signed on the dotted line in late December 2005. Both knew that houses like this don’t come along often, and both knew it could be their dream home for the foreseeable future.

The Jordans decided quickly that this home had to be family-friendly, not a “do not touch” museum with formal furnishings and fabrics. It couldn’t possibly be; they had four active kids, one dog, two cats and a lifestyle that seems to involve perpetual motion.

On the first floor, Stacey and AJ selected one of the larger rooms off the grand open foyer, with its leaded windows, period furniture and elegant settee, as the designated game room. In it, a pool table was installed, along with arcade-type gaming machines and the kind of furniture that is meant to be used daily and well. The end result: a totally comfortable hang-out space.

1-smaller-Mooristown_0164-1468Nearby, the space designated as the family room/living room has walls of a neutral palette. The Jordans have established a place where good conversation and good times are almost destined to happen. Original built-in corner cabinets and open shelves flank the handsome, traditional fireplace. Casual sofas with blue print fabric create a felicitous blend of tradition, cheer and even a touch of French country. But along with the stately and traditional, there are whimsical surprises at every turn.

Stacey, who loves pops of color, has brought into the decor the exuberant art of the Jordan children, which adorns several walls.

6-Mooristown_0174-1470Off the kitchen, chairs painted a vivid lime surround a round, wood table. Antique-style needlepoints and old-fashioned portraits sit on an unmistakably bold zebra-print wallpaper in a nearby bathroom.

AJ has a first-floor office that’s all business – until his beloved exercise equipment comes into view. So without going too far, he can easily combine work and play.

Another shift in mood is the formal and truly grand dining room. It’s easy to imagine magnificent holiday dinners served on its expansive English-style dining table and weekend brunches with the sun pouring in through the room’s expanse of windows.

“We definitely love to share our home with others, and help good causes,” says Stacey.


The screened-in porch affords sweeping views of the grounds

This house for all seasons also boasts a screened-in porch overlooking the park-like grounds. It’s a wonderful spot for enveloping oneself in greenery, having that first cup of coffee when the weather is benevolent, or just plain daydreaming.

It is on those lush grounds that the famous American writer Thornton Wilder served as best man at the wedding of his brother, Amos, to Catharine Kerlin, who grew up in the home now occupied by the Jordans.

Until last year, that interesting fact was not known locally. It wasn’t until Moorestown High School history teacher Greg Harr, who was directing the school’s production of the Wilder play, “Our Town,” stumbled upon the fact while researching the show.

“I always like to research the plays we do,” says Harr, who was going through an old edition of the script with some annotations. One noted that a family wedding had been held in Moorestown. “Of course, the name Moorestown kind of jumped out at me.”

Harr immediately dug deeper and called the Moorestown Historical Society, assuming this information was already well known to its members. But society trustee Lenny Wagner was as shocked as Harr to learn of the local connection. Wagner sprang into action, and soon established the validity of the Moorestown link.

Its significance to the Jordan family is mighty: a pivotal scene of the play is a garden wedding – and that real-life June 1935 wedding took place in the yard of the Jordan home. It was later immortalized in the play.

By the time Moorestown High School students performed “Our Town” in the fall of 2012, the entire cast had been invited to see and tour the property, and the town’s Historical Society became the repository of the original wedding gown and other important artifacts from the Wilder family, including the wedding registry where Thornton Wilder’s name appears. For the Jordans, their home’s special history has made its place in their lives even more magical.

Knowing that their children are growing up in a home so connected to such a milestone in American literary history is, according to Stacey, something they will appreciate more and more as they get older.

8-Mooristown_0180-1472Those children are lucky enough to live in a home with six bedrooms, each of them with personality. Oldest daughter Sarah, now a college student, has occupied a prime room on the third floor with nooks and crannies and a bed tucked under one of the home’s beautiful peaked windows.

Son Drew, 12, and daughter Sydney, 10, have left their own imprints on their spaces. Drew filled his room with iconic sports figures and memorabilia, and Sydney sleeps in an antique white bed that makes her feel, she says, “like a princess.” Allyson, 16, is a photo buff and displays her remarkable images above built-in drawers.

Mom and Dad have recently redone their own master suite, part of a project to refinish the home’s upstairs floors in tiger oak. The airy bedroom has an adjoining sitting room connected by French doors. Cream-colored walls now provide a backdrop for a handsome new bed, bookcases from the home’s original library (now the living room/family room) and family treasures like the old safe that once belonged to Stacey’s grandfather.


The home’s original blueprints hang in the hallway

Among their proudest possessions: the old architectural plans and outdoor elevation drawings that let these owners know how their dream house was planned, designed and executed. Those plans now hang in a prominent place, and for these homeowners, that’s just where they belong.

Now that they know how much history lives in this house, AJ and Stacey Jordan know there’s no finer artwork than these original, painstakingly detailed plans. The couple believes this special “decordecided” will remind their children – and themselves – that a home’s past actually lives in the present.

December 2013
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