Monalisa and Rodney Norris knew they would need to buy a new home when they invited Rodney's mother to move in with them.
"We had a three-bedroom, one-bath-and-a-half," Monalisa said. "We needed more space."
The couple's Realtor found a 4,059-square-foot, five-bedroom house on a quiet block in Wynnfield.
"We knew when we walked in, that was the house. We just knew it," Monalisa said.
The couple — along with their children and Rodney's mother — met one of the homeowners on their tour and made enough of an impression that Monalisa received a call from his wife when they got home.
Monalisa said the homeowner told her that her husband was insisting that they sell the house to Monalisa and Rodney.
"He said he had to give it to us because of our spirit," Monalisa said.
They loved the home, but she said the size took some getting used to.
"The first night we slept there, I said to my husband, 'Are we going to be OK in this big house?'" Norris said. "He just said, 'God's got us. We're going to be OK.' And sure enough, we were."
The extra room turned out to be a good thing. During one three-year period, both Monalisa's and Rodney's mothers were living with them. Rodney's mother stayed with them for 9½ years.
"It was a blessing," she said. "That house was such a blessing for us."
Monalisa said that in the 20 years they owned the house, it was great for entertaining crowds for holidays and birthdays. They even hosted weddings.
"That house has seen so much love," she said. "People always said — honestly — that when they came to our house, they felt like home."
In addition to the five bedrooms, the home includes three full bathrooms and two powder rooms. Monalisa said her favorite part is the family room, which features windows on three sides. "I would sit and watch the snow fall."
The tree-lined street makes for peaceful views.
"I always felt like where we lived is the best-kept secret in the city of Philadelphia," she said. "You kind of feel that suburban life with the tree-lined streets."
Her other favorite feature is a two-tiered deck that Rodney — a Philadelphia firefighter — built by hand.
Norris said her youngest son moved out last year, and the big house really is too big for them these days.
"We're truly empty nesters now," she said.