Mt Laurel Residents Spotlight: Meet Phil & Gail Chandler
As part of our Resident Spotlight Blog Series, we recently sat down with Mt Laurel residents, Phil and Gail Chandler. The Chandlers came to Mt Laurel after spending over 30 years moving from place to place for Phil’s military career as a Marine Colonel. After Phil retired, fate and a little internet research led them to Mt Laurel, their beloved home of over three years.
“We’ve been here going on three and a half years. We moved in December 31st, New Year’s Eve, 2013,” Phil explained. “I grew up in Monroeville, Alabama, of To Kill a Mockingbird, that’s my hometown. I was in the Marine Corp for over 30 years, that’s how I met Gail. She was born in New York but grew up in Washington, D.C. I was stationed there, met her, we just had our 28th anniversary this past weekend. We bounced all over the place throughout that 30 years.”
During his military career, the Chandlers moved several times across the country from Washington, D.C. to Southern California and back, and were ready to settle down in one place. But after leaving the military, they decided to take their time planning their next phase. This led them to temporarily move into Phil’s old family house in Monroeville. “We drew a circle around where we were at and decided, we don’t want to move beyond a single day’s drive of Monroeville. We don’t want to move across country again.”
While looking for their new home, Gail suggested they look for a traditional neighborhood community in order to find a community with a charming small town atmosphere and craftsman architecture. They researched several online, from Louisiana to South Carolina, and found Mt Laurel. Phil said, “So we actually drove up here and went to the Preserve, Ross Bridge, and here, and we fell in love with Mt Laurel the first time we saw it.”
“It draws you in, unlike anything I’ve really ever seen before, so I loved it.”
The locally harvested stone used throughout Mt Laurel and the tree-lined streets made them feel like they were in a mountain retreat. “It was perfect timing too because when we first starting looking around it was fall, and here in the fall with the leaves and the hillside is just beautiful. We even stopped in the Shamrock and watched an Auburn football game and stopped in Area 41 and ate.”
Gail added, “My first impression was you’ve kind of stepped back in time a little bit because it just reminded you of an older neighborhood – walkable, charming stonework. It draws you in, unlike anything I’ve really ever seen before, so I loved it.”
The Chandlers loved the stunning natural landscape and also the low-maintenance yards in Mt Laurel. “The number one thing that we love the most that drew us here is Save the Trees,” said Phil. They noticed that only Mt Laurel had a strong commitment of preserving and building in concert within natural surroundings.
“Everything about it appealed to us. You’re not in a big city like how we used to be, but Birmingham still has a lot of culture.” Even before they visited, they heard of Birmingham’s reputation as a foodie city and of the revitalization transforming downtown Birmingham. After spending a weekend downtown, taking in the city’s culture and Mt Laurel’s close proximity to the action, they knew they had found their new home.
The Chandlers looked at several resale homes but ultimately decided to build their new dream home. “We love the team down there, Mr. Freeman, and Bryan, and Della,” Phil explained. “Della introduced us to Mr. Freeman and I asked what it would take to build one. Mr. Freeman latched on to me as a retired Colonel, and said I’ll build your house for you.”
Gail added, “We fell in love with Mr. Freeman and he was so good to us. What really sold me on this house was his team. It was pretty painless for us.”
“That’s how we got here and still to this day we love the community, the walkability, the architecture, the people here,” said Phil. “When we were riding around with Della, everyone was very friendly, and coming from Southern California, it was refreshing to have that kind of southern charm. Gail’s never been in the South much and she just commented about no matter where you go here, people are just polite.”
It was a fortuitous conversation with Broker Della Pender that led Phil to his next career move. “Della asked me what I was doing now and I said well I’m getting bored, I’ve got to find something. She said I should look into EBSCO.” Soon after, Phil was introduced to PRADCO Outdoor Brands, an EBSCO company. He is now the Director of Hunting Operations at PRADCO. “It was really the people that drew me into EBSCO, the sales team down there. If they’ve got this kind of people working for them, it must be the kind of company I want to be a part of.”
“It was a special feeling to know this is ours.”
So what’s their favorite part of their Mt Laurel home? “We love the fact that it’s a single level,” said Phil. “We wanted single level and a somewhat of a cottage type feel.” They also love the custom touches that Town Builders was able to incorporate into the home. “We did the open shelving with reclaimed wood in the kitchen that was a first for Mt Laurel. The brick fireplace was a little different. Our front door was an extra wide front door, and we love our high ceilings.” They also screened-in their front porch, creating a relaxing outdoor room that even their cats can enjoy.
They have fond memories of move-in day on New Year’s Eve. “The biggest standout was moving in here because it signaled a transition in our life from traveling in the Marine Corp. We moved every few years. It was such a big event to move-in because it’s New Year’s Eve and the start of a very special transition for us. It was a special feeling to know this is ours.”
Since then, the Chandlers have loved the convenience and community in Mt Laurel. “I love the convenience of if I want to stop by and have a beer at the Red Shamrock I can stop in, or if we want to grab something to eat at Area 41 or La Paz or even the sushi place. It’s neat to not have to drive over the hill to do those things.” They often frequent Mt Laurel’s shops and restaurants, like the salon and grocery store in town center.
“When you come here, you’ll fall in love,” – that’s what the Phil tells newcomers to the area. In transitioning to life in Mt Laurel, the Chandlers have embraced the community, convenience, and serene surroundings here.
Gail added, “At first we thought is it going to be hard. Are we going to want to move after a few years? But no, we really love it here.”
Thank you to the Chandlers for letting us interview them for our series! Keep up with the Resident Spotlight series and all other Mt Laurel news and events by signing up for the Mt Laurel newsletter here.