"It seems a lot smaller than I remembered," Prince Albert tells PEOPLE of his mother's childhood home
Credit: Howell Conant/Bob Adelman Books, Inc.

Grace Kelly’s Philadelphia home will reopen to the public “in 2018 — possibly earlier,” Monaco’s Prince Albert tells PEOPLE.

The refitted 6-bedroom brick colonial — which the prince purchased in the fall — will house regional offices for the Princess Grace Foundation and a U.S. extension of Monaco’s Princess Grace Irish Library.

Built in 1935 by Albert’s grandfather John B. Kelly, the three-story family home where Prince Rainier proposed to actress Grace Kelly will also accomodate public visits once renovation is complete.

Events that will welcome the public into the restored East Falls landmark at 3901 Henry Avenue are an integral part of plans, says Prince Albert.

Citing residential and community concerns, he notes that while “there will be different public events, it won’t be exclusively a museum.” Maintaining the neighborhood’s residential quality is essential, he says: “While it is a historical landmark, I don’t think that a dedicated museum is the right avenue to take. There will though be any number of events which will facilitate public viewing.”

Among these, “we’re arranging an exchange-type program with the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco.”

Discussions concerning this program the library’s first overseas extension — are already underway with Villanova University. Within its current activities, the Irish Library (founded in 1984 in tribute to Grace’s love of literature) sponsors lectures and contemporary author readings, concerts and children’s activities.

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As for the opening date, says the royal, “To give ourselves enough room, I’m saying a year but it could be less than that. To give you an answer, 2018, possibly earlier.”

After he visited the home in October, he says he left feeling nostalgic.

“I hadn’t seen the house in a good many summers and some of it is in relatively good shape,” he says. “The previous owner hadn’t touched some parts in 40 years. Other parts need great work . . . I can still see the living room carpet. It’s not there anymore but I remember the pattern. And the kitchen where we all had breakfast every morning.

“Seeing it without furniture was odd,” he says. “And, it seems a little small. Of course, when you’re young everything seems bigger. But it seems a lot smaller than I remembered.”