Palatial-but-Decaying Philadelphia Estate Back on the Market

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Faded Mansion
Matt Rourke/The Associated PressLynnewood Hall, in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, dripped with silk, velvet and gilded moldings in its heyday a century ago.
PHILADELPHIA -- A dilapidated 110-room, 70,000-square-foot estate is back on the market, but an architect says the $20 million price tag doesn't include the tens of millions more it needs in repairs.
The 34-acre Lynnewood Hall estate in the Elkins Park community has been in decline since the original heirs sold it in 1944, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday. The home, completed around 1900, once held one of the nation's largest private art collections. In its heyday, the house was dripping with silk, velvet and gilded moldings, the rooms furnished with chairs from King Louis XV's palace, Persian rugs and Chinese pottery and the halls crammed with art by Raphael, Rembrandt and Donatello.

But members of the Widener family who owned the property just outside Philadelphia died or moved away. The estate was first sold to an association that wanted to build a Protestant university. Then it was sold to a housing developer followed by a seminary and another church. The property went through

"If it continues to be neglected as it is, it will be beyond salvage...."

decades of bankruptcy proceedings and was repossessed, auctioned and sold for pennies to creditors -- all while descending further into disrepair.

But those who have seen the interior in recent years said most of the house's fine, historic fixtures are still there, even though some of the rooms are destroyed by water damage and broken windows. Mary DeNadai, an architect who specializes in historic restoration, said it would take about $50 million to restore the home to its former glory, but time is running out. "If it continues to be neglected as it is, it will be beyond salvage" within five to 10 years, she said.

David Rowland, president of the Old York Road Historical Society, said he has seen possible buyers come and go over the years. "It was always loved more by the people who'd never been inside it than by the people who actually lived there," Rowland said.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

6 Comments

Filter by:
Ilane Russo

Someone should charge of this property such as the house preservation groups they have in Savannah,Georgia.If I were a multi millionaire I would certainly want something this huge.I cannot these rich guys paying for a four bedroom home eighty million dollars just because it faces Central Park.What the heck is the point in having money if you do not want to live large.There is an excellent preservation group in Savannah,Georgia that raises the money to restore this type of homes.they do an excellent job The asking price for this home is ridiculous.I can see why it is not selling.GREED I think it can be turned into a grand luxury hotel.

August 30 2014 at 10:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
brennemanbelkin

Twenty million, plus twenty million to repair ir, plus a million a year to heat it in the winter and no telling how much to AC the place in the summer.
Save your money.

August 22 2014 at 9:45 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
In My Opinion

Nobody wants to buy a home that looks like the White House?

August 18 2014 at 11:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
In My Opinion

I prefer a castle for it's money's worth.

August 18 2014 at 11:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Priness

Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Oprah? Will somebody with more money than they can ever spend please buy this house and restore it? This has to be one of the most beautiful homes in the country. Maybe someone can see about having it put on the list of historic places. This needs to be saved!

August 18 2014 at 4:53 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
aromaremedies

how stupid..it should be made into a hotel with spa amenities and lectures on healing and meditation classes. It is beautiful.. Or make into a photography museum or a museum. Is no one a visionary? duh

August 17 2014 at 12:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply