The one-bedroom modernist home was offered for between $2 million and $3 million. It sold in 1981 for $152,500, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Monday.
Richard Wright of the Chicago auction house offering the property said it was not the softening housing market that was to blame, but the overall souring U.S. economy that might have scared potential buyers.
"I guess the valuation was too high," he said. "But it doesn't matter to me what it's worth in Chestnut Hill as a one-bedroom. When you're in it, you agree -- it's an amazing, beautiful, important house."
Though there were no formal bids, there were several very interested parties, Wright said.
The house was commissioned in 1958 by the niece of prominent Philadelphia woodworker Wharton Esherick. For nearly 30 years, the home was owned by Lynn and Robert Gallagher, who completely restored it.