Lynnewood Hall in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania was designed by architect Horace Trumbauer for traction magnate P.A.B. Widener for himself, his family and his magnificent art collection. Construction of the mansion was completed in 1900 while the estate grounds of 300 acres continued to be designed and laid out by the landscape architect.

Lynnewood Hall was a neoclassical design Trumbauer favored, and it was joined in 1920 by the larger and even more magnificent Whitemarsh Hall in Wyndmoor, roughly five miles away, for Drexel & Co. financier Edward T. Stotesbury and his wife Eva.  Like many large mansions during the Great Depression and World War II, no buyer could be found for Whitemarsh Hall, it was abandoned, vandalized, suffered structural and interior damage due to the elements, and efforts to save it and preserve it failed. (Photo below was taken some years before its destruction).

Whitemarsh before destruction 1

It was razed in 1980 and only the six standing portico Ionic columns with their plinths, and some other architectural sculptures and steps at the rear of the former property remain today.

Lynnwood Hall has been suffering a similar decline for decades under the often neglectful ownership first of Faith Theological Seminary operated by Carl McIntire and later by the First Korean Church of New York under the direction of Dr. Richard S. Yoon.  No attempts whatsoever have been made to replace the many rotted wood bordered windows of the mansion and numerous windows are simply boarded up with plywood.

Over the last quarter century, there have been numerous preservation efforts to take over the property by a sympathetic buyer and with support of zoning officials, achieve equitable taxes to permit a buyer or consortium to buy Lynnewood Hall and begin restoration efforts similar to many other successful preservation efforts around the United States.

This blog will recount the decades of the Old Grey Lady’s struggle to survive through contemporary news articles up to the present day. It will also hopefully recorde the efforts to save it from destruction like Whitemarsh Hall in the belief that one day this once great mansion will be magnificent once again through adaptive reuse.

This blog is the creation of Anthony H. Young, author and historian.


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