Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Whitemarsh Hall: A Sad Tale

Once upon a time
nearly a century and a half ago
a little baby boy was born
and he was named
Edward T. Stotesbury.

Edward was the child of Quaker parents 
living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
And like most of his peers,
he attended Philadelphia Public Schools,
then Friends' Central High School
and after graduation was tutored
in business by

His career in business
started as a grocery clerk,
then as a clerk for a sugar refinery 
in which his father was a junior partner.
 He moved on to a banking house,
Drexel & Co. in 1866
which later partnered with
J. P. Morgan.
By 1882 he was a partner.

He amassed a net worth of 
100 million dollars 
and had several mansions to his name.
The Walnut Street Mansion, Philadelphia PA
and his primary residence:
Whitemarsh Hall in Wyndmoor PA

It is said by the end of his life
he told his stepson (married to Doris Duke) 
that he planned on squandering his
accumulated wealth himself.

True to his word,
he began withdrawing $10 million a year
 and died leaving a $4 million estate.

 His 6 story Georgian mansion and gardens in Pennsylvania
demanded $1 million a year to operate.
So, after Edward's death,
his widowed wife moved away from Whitemarsh Hall.

Whitemarsh Hall
was left to
the weather and vandals.
It became neglected,

In April of 1980 is was demolished,
yes, demolished,
and replaced with builder grade 
multifamily housing.

And so the Fairy Tales ends...
or perhaps it is not a fairy tale after all.
If you look carefully,
here and there,
you might catch a glimpse of this great mansion. 

 Of all his mansions,
only one still stands in tact
and of the other three
you can only find remains.

How incredibly sad.

The information above is gleaned from this site.
I have only visited the remains of Whitemarsh Hall
and cannot attest to the accuracy of the information

All the photos from this gallery can be found here.


Anonymous said...

Stotesbury was located near the college I attended (Spring Garden). My roommate was an architecture major and my best man was Construction Management, so they knew the place well. Many of the photos from that site were shot the year I graduated. I remember the sick feeling they day the announced it would be demolished.

Kathy said...

I love how you told the story with the photos sprinkled throughout.

Unknown said...

You are a good story teller.
And a great centered writer : )
Have you always done that?

Jeannette StG said...

Such a waste of a great architecture when looking at the photo of his original mansion!

Heather said...

This is sad. I think of life such as this so often, Rebecca...as I travel, even in my little old state of Vermont...scanning across the field and knowing in my heart that they once held farms. Yes, in Vermont, the farms were the mansions ;)

Now, farmers are hard-pressed to keep going forward. This, too, is sad.

Great photos you've shared.

Kerry said...

Wow, what a pity. I guess this guy had no wish to leave a legacy or make the world a better place with all of those millions of dollars. What he could have accomplished with that, the selfish old goat!

Gemma Wiseman said...

A sad story in so many ways! Material wealth does not last nor does it guarantee everlasting happiness! To think that this guy's legacy is that he did so little with so much. Beautifully told story with interesting photos!

M. Reka said...

You told the story so beautifully!
Short Poems

EG CameraGirl said...

Yes, a sad story on many levels. I do wonder why anyone would need four mansions when for most of us one would be more than enough. :)

Dianne said...

you told this story so wonderfully and the photos are amazing
it is sad that the physical history is mostly gone

Maude Lynn said...

What a sad story!

jabblog said...

It's good that at least parts remain to remind passers-by of the grandeur that was once so noticeable.

James said...

Nice post! Could you imagine how cool it would have been to take pictures before it was torn down?

JunieRose2005 said...

WOW!! What an interesting story and pictures!
Thanks for sharing it.


betty-NZ said...

What amazing history. I wonder how many more historical places have such a fascinating beginning.

Jim said...

Too bad for the rest of us! But spending money like that may have been real enjoyment for him.
Rebecca, you are missing a 'Label' for Midweek Blues.

Kerry said...

I mainly concentrated on your story the first time, but came back to comment on the photos. I like the way you looked at the steps, very interesting angles carved into the slope.
Also, I never remember to say this, but I like your design for the "Mid-Week Blues" logo, and although I forgot at first ('magine that), I have added it to my post.

DawnTreader said...

A miniature version of many a great civilization throgh the milleniums...

SouthernSass said...

Wonderful history there. What in the world did he spend so much money on??? It is sad that there is only one left intact.

Have a great weekend!

In the eye of the beholder said...

That was a truly sad tale but It's great that you captured some it's beauty still.