After 10 years on a two-acre property in Gwynedd Valley, Rogerson and his wife, Cari, were ready to make the move to Center City. Their three children were grown, and Rogerson, CEO of Philadelphia-based Chemtura Corp., had already relocated company headquarters downtown.
The couple looked at a charming brownstone on Delancey Street, then decided instead on 4,500 square feet of raw space in a luxury tower that they could make their own.
But before they closed on the apartment, his wife was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She speeded up course work to earn her master's degree in nursing from Villanova University, Rogerson says proudly, but died three months after the diagnosis, before their new home was finished.
"Cari, she designed the kitchen," he says on a recent morning, looking around to a cozy stone fireplace, a window seat, and an expanse of cabinets clad in white and silver with red accents. "I don't cook, so this is overkill for me. There's a baking section, all these things are full."
Rogerson prefers the balcony that stretches off the kitchen. He likes to tinker in a garden, so he's added a few plants and a small patch of grass for the family dogs, Chloe and Shade.
"That was my clever idea," he says of the grass. The dogs look at it as if to say, "You've got to be kidding me," he adds, "but they've adapted [to city life] surprisingly well."
It took 11 months, Rogerson says, to build his new three-bedroom, 3½-bath home, which includes 360-degree views, Brazilian cherry floors, and mostly a modern, neutral palette — a contrast to the country French style of his former home. He worked with a team from Fury Design Inc. in Philadelphia that kept his choices simple: "We made decisions quickly."
The floor plan stayed traditional with individual rooms. The bathrooms were kept classic with 1930s-style white marble, and the decor took shape with clean-lined modern furniture. Everything pays homage to the apartment's wall-sized windows and views.
Standing under a living-room ceiling outlined in gold paint, a color he was at first skeptical about, Rogerson says he wouldn't have picked this decor on his own. He's glad he listened to his designers.
"My tendency was to make the apartment look like a club room, real masculine," he says. "I would have gone much darker."
The living room, designed as a great room, is fitted with a plush, two-tone sectional, a large flat-screen TV, and a wall-length hearth made from multicolor stone. Several of Rogerson's favorite things reside here: a mahogany-and-brass grandfather clock he purchased after his grandmother Clara died (he keeps a photo of her at age 97 in a plastic bag inside the clock's door); a bronze statue, originally cast for his former company, Hercules Chemical Co., in the early '40s, and a cast-iron dog he received as the oldest grandchild.
"The designer kept moving [the dog] around," he says. "I like it here next to the fireplace."
Then there is the 600-gallon salt-lake aquarium filled with dozens of tropical fish. Starting off small but growing bigger and bigger, the aquarium was one of the few things Rogerson was particular about. It was even admired by a famous athlete who lives in the building.
A home office holds personal belongings, including a wall-length credenza covered in family pictures and model trucks from Rogerson's time at Hercules. He originally wanted to be a forest ranger, but changed his mind after talking to a guidance counselor who told him it would be tough to land a government job. The first one in his family to go to college, he tried engineering, instead.
"I thought it was going to be a temporary thing," he says.
Rogerson still can't help but think of the summers he spent as a child at a Swiss-chalet-inspired log cabin his father built. He plans to build his own retreat on Lake Michigan. "I'm going to go look this summer," he says. "I know what I want it to look like."
When he retires, he says, he may divide his time between Philadelphia and that lake house. For now, he's enjoying the tower that stretches skyward, tall enough for him to see the bell ring at Citizens Bank Park and fireworks over the river.
Philadelphia is convenient for his corporate board meetings on the East Coast and an easy place for his children to visit. Plus, it's only a seven-minute walk to work, including a stop at his favorite coffee shop on 19th Street.
"It gets me out, which is nice," says Rogerson. "It feels like home to me."