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Archdiocese likely to list mansion for sale

A prime piece of residential real estate will reportedly hit the Philadelphia market when one of the city's largest homes goes up for sale.

According to sources, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia-owned mansion, where archbishops have lived since 1935, will go up for sale, as the archdiocese potentially faces years of parish and school closures.

The 13,000-square foot house sits on 8.7 acres and runs along Cardinal Avenue. It would be listed as a multimillion dollar property, a local real estate agent said. Because religious organizations do not pay taxes on real estate, the city has not publicly listed an assessed value.

The mansion has 16 rooms and sits behind an iron fence. It has a six-car garage, an indoor swimming pool and a cottage for the gardener. It sits on prime real estate across the street from St. Joseph's University.

The residence has had a storied history since it became the official home of the archbishop 76 years ago at a cost of $115,000. It has hosted prominent visitors. Cardinal Eugene Pacelli, who became Pope Pius XII, visited in 1936, with Pope John Paul II coming in 1979.

Should the archdiocese sell the mansion, it would join a growing number of Catholic dioceses that have sold their archbishops' homes. Dioceses in Denver, Boston and Detroit have disposed of their elaborate residences in favor of smaller homes. Archbishops in other cities decided to sell their residences either to live more austerely or to pay victims in a church sex-abuse scandal.

In a sale such as this involving an expensive piece of land belonging to en entity subject to different tax laws, it is important to do all the proper homework when buying. An experienced real estate attorney could likely help someone navigate the process.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, "Archdiocese plans to sell city mansion," David O'Reilly, Jan. 1, 2012

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