Thursday, November 28, 2013

That Dang Wrecking Ball

I have a pet peeve.
Well, not just one,
but today I'll discuss just one.

The destruction of beautiful, quality, historic property
in order to replace it with
a quantity of cheaper homes
for the purpose of profit.

The former Whitemarsh Hall 
Image courtesy

You can see it all over the Philadelphia area.
Practically every week updates from
Hidden City Philadelphia 
record another wrecking ball event.

Inside the former Whitemarsh Hall 
Image courtesy

I 've written about it before,
Whitemarsh Hall: A Sad Tale
where mansion meets wrecking ball.

The destruction of Whitemarsh Hall 
Image courtesy 

Sadly, Whitemarsh Hall was neglected
and left to vandals prior to its destruction.
Today, this is what stands in its place.

The remains of Whitemarsh Hall
surrounded by multi-family homes.
Image courtesy 

I find the wrecking of historic mansions
incredibly short sighted.
Imagine Europe
without its historic architecture.
All of it gone
and replaced by wallboard and plastic siding.
That is what is happening to our history in the United States.

The Mattison Estate (St. Mary's Villa)
Ambler, PA

Well folks, here we go again.
Only this time, for me,
it is a little closer to home.
Off of Lindenwald Terrace in Ambler.
Two miles to be exact.

Sitting Room, 2nd Floor
Second Floor Sitting Room 
The Mattison Estate (St. Mary's Villa)
Ambler, PA

And this time
the property has not been neglected and left to vandals.
It is in use
and, as the images testify,
in pretty good condition.

Formal Parlor, 1st Floor
Formal Parlor, First Floor
The Mattison Estate (St. Mary's Villa)
Ambler, PA

So why the wrecking ball?
Because keeping it would cut into someone's
multi-million dollar profit.

2nd Floor
Second Floor hand carved wood paneling.
The Mattison Estate (St. Mary's Villa)
Ambler, PA

Don't get me wrong.
I don't deny that someone should make a profit,
even a multi-million dollar one.
However, I do think there should be some restrictions
where historic architecture is concerned.

Dining Room, 1st Floor
Dining Room, First Floor
The Mattison Estate (St. Mary's Villa)
Ambler, PA

And I do not think the said profit-maker
should be permitted to misrepresent the condition of the building
in order to make the excuse that it must meet the wrecking ball.

Library, 1st Floor
Library Chandelier, First Floor 
The Mattison Estate (St. Mary's Villa)
Ambler, PA

I do think the voices of the community should be heard,
even if they don't have the multi million dollars to put up the fight.

Formal Parlor, 1st Floor
Formal Parlor,  First Floor
The Mattison Estate (St. Mary's Villa)
Ambler, PA 

Our City Hall in Philadelphia
almost met the wrecking ball.
But due to limited funds,
they just covered all the old architectural beauty with sheetrock
in order to modernize.
Happily, the beauty beneath has since been rediscovered and restored.
I wrote about that here.
But that ending was only possible
because the wrecking ball never came.

Let's not lose another beauty.
Save the Castle.
Join the fight.

Be There....
Image Nick Wilson

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Sarah Huizenga said...

You are singing my song sister. The lose of beautiful historic architecture is a great travesty. The Mattison Estate is glorious and that beauty should not be lost. What we are teaching our children these days is if we don't like it and can't afford it let's get rid of it, and that goes for everything not just buildings.

MadSnapper said...

this is so sad and it is another case of Only IN America.... this one is just gorgeous, i don't see why they can't build whatever it is around it... this is why we have no architecture that is hundreds of years old, the almighty dollar rules here
last month, the owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning team, bought a 6 year old mansion of 12,000 square feet, for 4 million dollars, on our bayfront. it had marble and custom made everything, chandeliers, a stunning new home. the day he closed the wrecking ball came and tore it down causing a big stink because the owners did not know he would do that and the neighbors were horrified.

Wayne said...

How someone could tear that beauty down and sleep at night is beyond me.

Haddock said...

A sad tale, repeated all over the world, for a few extra pennies by some greedy people.
Its sad to see history crumbling down.

Out on the prairie said...

Sad to see beauty not kept up better

jabblog said...

This is so sad and surely completely unnecessary in such a vast country as USA.

Mersad said...

The sitting room in the Mattison Estate is a living dream. So cozy and inviting. I am totally with you on this subject. Especially after having just returned from Budapest!

Lorrie said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. Destroying these lovely old buildings really is a crime. Perhaps the US (and Canada) need something like the National Trust in England, where buildings must be preserved, and even alterations have to be approved. It's like losing a part of our heritage to obliterate these buildings.

Hans said...

Based on newer information, the Mattison Castle will NOT be torn down. Instead, a housing development will be built around it, with the castle as a focal point. Better than the wrecking ball, but still, the building was meant to be seen in the midst of expansive lawns and gardens, not standing at the end of a housing development like some kind of miniature golf course/Disneyland castle.

Hans said...

Wanted to add for those of you who don't know - this building was used as the convent in the film, "The Trouble with Angels".