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Whitemarsh Hall: The Estate of Edward T.Stotesbury (PA) (Images of America)

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Whitemarsh Hall: The Estate of Edward T.Stotesbury (PA) (Images of America).pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    CharlesG.Zwicker(Author),EdwardC.Zwicker(Author),SpringfieldTownship Historical Society(Author)

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Whitemarsh Hall, known as "the Versailles of America," was one of the largest and most exquisite estates in North America. Edward Townsend Stotesbury, one of the wealthiest Philadelphians in the early twentieth century, commissioned renowned architect Horace Trumbauer to build the one-hundred-forty-sevenroom mansion in 1916 on three hundred acres just outside Philadelphia. Whitemarsh Hall, which took five years to build at an estimated cost of $10 million with all the furnishings, was a wedding present for his second wife. This book explores Whitemarsh Hall’s construction, its heyday in the 1920s, the multiple impacts of the Great Depression, Stotesbury’s death, and subsequent ownership over the next four decades, culminating in its eventual submission to decay, vandalism, and the wrecking ball in 1980.

The Springfield Township Historical Society was established in 1985, in large part as a result of the township and its interested residents losing battles to save significant historical buildings, including Whitemarsh Hall. Board members Charles G. and Edward C. Zwicker actively research Springfield Township history and conduct presentations on topics of local interest. They also authored Springfield Township, Montgomery County with the historical society.

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Review Text

  • By Jeffery J. Lovejoy on March 1, 2009

    This is a little book. They make them by the dozens these days. This one covers a subject that for us natives, those of us who shared our lives first hand with the fate of this old mansion, keeps to the simple facts without really covering the very real tragedy.The facts are that this is the story about an old man who finds love again late in life and celebrates his luck by lavishing an amazing fortune on his second wife. What's different here is that this "old sinner" was richer than Bill Gates and Warren Buffet combined, and that he spent practically everything he had on a woman by building one of the most beautiful mansions ever seen in the United States during some of the country's most interesting times, like the first World War, the (first) Great Depression, and World War II. His children and step children married other interesting people like General Douglas MacArthur and Chicago's Delphine Dodge (of the car company). All of whom resided at one time in the mansion. Kings, queens, presidents, and captains of industry were guests at Whitemarsh Hall. These facts would haunt anybody who walked the floors of this mansion, as many of us locals did, but the best is yet to come.The old man dies and then the story becomes a classic about the particlar breed of greed and avarice uniquely American (of course).After his death, things for the mansion take a turn for worse. There's no one rich enough to buy the mansion after his death, so it sits idle for many years, the surrounding acreage eaten away little by little by developers. By the 1960s, the mansion is surrounded by hundreds of these little, box type, family homes built by the millions, and so common, after WWII.The mansion is owned briefly in the 1960s, then abandoned again, this time for good, and this time to vandals, crooks, drug dealers, the homeless, and thieves. The copper roof is stolen, exposing the mansion to the elements, and a sure death sentence (of course). But even as a wreak, the classic architecture, the care and attention given to building this "home" shows through. Nothing can destroy these values built into the Indiana limestone. Eventually (of course), the mansion is torn down to make way for cheap condos, an end game, an act of destruction that some how runs deeper than pathos. Pieces of the estate are left behind by the developers, perhaps in a rather feeble attempt to attest to their own humanity. However, all this proves is how the true face of capitalism we see here is hardly anything one would care to call humane (of course).As a kid I was, like thousands of others, drawn to the story of this mansion and its owners. We all visited the Whitemarsh Hall as a way to pay homage and respect to a place built, all for the love one man had for one woman, even if the man was richer than god. As an adult the conclusion of this book, like the destruction of the mansion, is best expressed by another who said: "We are judged not so much for the monuments we build, but for the ones we have destroyed." In this case, humanity deserves to be burned at the stake of what passes for Western civilization.

  • By Anthony H. Young on July 13, 2013

    This book is part of Arcadia Publishing's wonderful Images of America series.These are photobooks with detailed captions. Charles and Edward Zwicker partnered with the Springfield Township Historical Society to locate virtually all available photos related to Whitemarsh Hall and the Stotesburys.This book is a vital architectural reference for perhaps the grandest neoclassical residence designed by Horace Trumbauer. Whitemarsh Hall truly was "America's Versailles." The book illustrates how the Stotesbury family came to prominence in Philadelphia and briefly describes how Edward T. Stotesbury built his fortune that made it possible to commission this mansion and surrounding estate.The book shows in many photos the mansion's construction, completion and many interior photos to reveal how magnificent this home was in the twilight years of America's Gilded Age. Every bit as fascinating are the photos of the mansion and its use after the Stotesburys passed away: its use during World War II and how it functioned as the headquarters for a large chemical company.The book also documents the sad decline and eventual destruction from neglect and vandalism until it finally had to be demolished. Most shocking was the modest tombstone that marks Edward Stotesbury's grave, a man who was once one of the richest men in America. I highly recommend this book to those wanting more information of one of the once-great mansions in the United States.

  • By MN4273 on February 12, 2015

    I went to college in the mid '70s a few blocks from Whitemarsh Hall so I remember it in its abandoned stage. The book really made me appreciate how beautiful and spectacular this place really was.While the content of the book was very good I am giving it just 3 stars because the binding failed and all the pages fell out before I finished reading it.


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