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November 2nd, 2019


Radnor, PA


The American Country House Foundation is proud to present Philadelphia Stories, an exploration of the great country houses that have defined the Philadelphia area. 


Restoring Historic Upsala

Alex Aberle & Violette Levy

In 2016 Aberle and Levy took the opportunity to acquire a unique and significant Philadelphia treasure, Historic Upsala. Built in 1798, Historic Upsala was the Germantown PA residence of the Johnson family. With changing fortunes the historic mansion was under threat until a group of concerned citizens took on the mission to preserve the mansion as a historic museum in the 1940s. As with many historic house museums around the country, Historic Upsala saw falling visitor numbers and reduced financial support in the 2000s which pushed the National Trust for Historic Preservation to deaccession the property. Aberle and Levy have taken on the enormous takes of restoring this iconic mansion back into a home.

Andalusia, The Biddle Family Estate

Connie Houchins

Connie Houchins, Executive Director of Andalusia will explore this history, design and collection of one of the most storied Philadelphia estates. Originally constructed as a small country residence for John Craig in 1794. The home was inherited by banker Nicholas Biddle and expanded twice reaching it's current form in 1836. The home remained the private residence of the Biddle family for nearly 200 years. Andalusia remains a treasure trove of history, objects as well as one of the finest Greek Revival houses in the nation.

Lost Gardens of the Main Line, 1880-1930

Jeff Groff

Jeff Groff, Director of Interpretation at Winterthur Museum in Delaware will present the history of the notable gardens and estates of the Main Line looks at their different styles, both naturalistic and formal, the well-known landscape architects who designed them, and the families who owned them, using photographs from that time period. Featured gardens include Pembroke and Timberline in Bryn Mawr, Bloomfield, Stoneleigh and Launfal in Villanova, Dolobran and Allgates in Haverford, and Penshurst in Penn Valley.


Ardrossan, The Last Great Estate on the Philadelphia Main Line

David Nelson Wren

David Wren will present the fascinating history and grandeur of our host site Ardrossan. Beautifully detailed in his 2016 book, Wren provides an engaging view into the house and family that defined 'High Society' Philadelphia in the 20th century.

Whitemarsh Hall and Lynnewood Hall

Gary Lawrance

Gary Lawrance will present the glamorous birth and subsequent decline of two of the most opulent mansions ever built in the Philadelphia area.  The now vanished Whitemarsh Hall was the former 147 room mansion of  capitalist E. T. Stotesbury.  Lynnewood Hall still stands as a shadowy reminder of Gilded Age Philadelphia. The 110 room mansion was the center of a grand estate created for industrialist Peter A. B. Widener. 


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