Prince Albert of Monaco has unveiled the restoration of his mother Grace Kelly’s childhood home in Philadelphia, where she lived before winning the hearts of movie fans and her royal husband, Prince Rainier III of Monaco.
Prince Albert bought the six-bedroom house in the Fall of 2016, for $755,000, but with nearly a century passing since it was built and having passed through the hands of several other owners, the property was far from fit for a princess when he took possession.
The colonial home standing two-and-a-half stories tall in East Falls has now been brought back to life in the closest possible condition to what it was when Princess Grace grew up inside its walls.
Prince Albert told the Today Show it was an emotional experience to finally see the restoration work completed, even more so than when he bought the property.
‘I remember rolling on this carpet with my sisters and my cousins, playing, as five or six year old,’ he said, recalling memories from visiting the house where his grandparents lived long after Princess Grace had moved out.
Princess Grace left her Philadelphia home when she was 20 years old to head off to Hollywood, but remained adored by her hometown through the years.
The city mourned after Princess Grace died at the age of 52 in 1982 from injuries she suffered in an automobile crash in France that involved her teenage daughter.
Once asked about memories growing up in Philadelphia, Princess Grace recalled walking along the Wissahickon Creek in Fairmount Park, saying it was her ‘greatest treat.’
Prince Albert said his earliest memories of visits to the home include staring out the upstairs window, taking in the beautiful views.
Now with two children of his own, he told People magazine at the time that he purchased the property that he can’t wait to make new memories there with his own children, twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella.
‘I’m looking forward to showing the house to the kids, sharing it with them, having them see the garden,’ he said.
He projected then that the restoration project would take at least a year to complete, and he was pretty close on his estimate.
Next to the den, there’s a bar which the family referred to as ‘Kelly Tavern.’
An oar that is believed to have belonged to Princess Grace’s father hangs today above the bar, where the point of his scull is also displayed.
In addition to the restorative work, irreplaceable personal touches somehow remained throughout the residence, like the linen closet floor on the second floor that survived with etching of the Kelly children’s heights clearly visible, from two years old to their late teens.
Though he was thankful the memories were preserved unscathed, Prince Albert couldn’t really offer much of an explanation for the still-standing treasure.
‘Maybe they thought we were going to take it back one day,’ he said, suggesting previous owners might have realized its importance to the history of the family.
That is a sweet thought, but it’s not likely all of the previous owners had such charming intentions in the back of their minds.
The property made headlines in 2014 when its 81-year-old former owner pleaded no contest to animal cruelty charges for keeping cats and dogs in unsanitary conditions on the property.
Officials with the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals seized 15 cats from the home and found the remains of several others.
The owner had lived in the large brick house since 1973.
Toby E Boshak, Executive Director of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA, described the painstaking attention paid by Prince Albert and his family, to protect the history of the Kelly home.
They scoured over old family photos and videos to get each detail just right.
‘There’s an old rug that used to be in the living room that was brought back,’ Boshak said.
‘They polished and restored all the finishes, keeping the originals when possible and matching older items that resembled the period of the house.’
Some had speculated the home, which was first built in 1928 by the Oscar winner’s father, three-time Olympic gold medalist rower John B Kelly, might be turned into a museum.
But Boshak told Today it will be used by the family during visits to Philadelphia.
‘Prince Albert is very close to his family — his cousins and extended family,’ she said.
‘And one of the things that’s very endearing is that the upstairs rooms were established for them to stay as a family. The big room upstairs has been set up for the children to play.’
The residence will also be used for the family’s many charitable endeavors, serving as office space for the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, which operates in support of environmental issues.
It will also be a place to hold events for The Prince Grace Foundation-USA.
The Foundation provides scholarships and career assistance to upcoming talent in theater, dance, and film talent, focusing on three areas of the arts that the princess was passionate about.
‘We’re looking forward to doing a number of events at the home that showcase the award winners,’ Boshak said.
The structure was previously designated as a Pennsylvania historical landmark.
The estate sits on a 0.69-acre (0.279-hectare) parcel that features gardens and a private backyard.
Originally published at Daily Mail