Whitemarsh Hall

In all of it's former glory



Old money had its claim to the main line, west of the city. New money found company in the northern Philadelphia suburbs palatial estates were, in a fashion, paid for with hats (Stetson), ice cream (Breyer), magazines (Curtis), and oil and transportation (Elkins). Each was more opulent than the previous. But none outdid Whitemarsh Hall, paid for by money made with money. Edward T. Stotesbury, who built Whitemarsh Hall with his wife Eva, headed Drexel & Company, part of J.P. Morgan empire.

 The Stotesbury Rittenhouse Square mansion, it seemed, was not quite enough for entertaining in the new grand style. In 1917, they commissioned architect Horace Trumbauer and landscape architect Jacques Greberto convert more than 300 acres of rolling Montgomery County farmland into one of America’s most flamboyant estates. Three million dollars and three years later the Stotesbury’s motored past the massive entry gates down two miles of white gravel drive. They had arrived in style.  Whitemarsh Hall had 150 rooms, 28 bathrooms, three elevators, and separate apartments for guests, who were each assigned a servant and chauffeur. Neither princes nor presidents, cardinals nor comics, declined a Stotesbury invitation.



Start your tour here with PAGE 1 {A Brief History of Whitemarsh Hall}


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Whitemarsh Hall required a staff of 150 and in 1929, $1 million for annual upkeep. As long as someone was willing to finance the house and gardens, Whitemarsh Hall was beautiful and it’s future was secure. But Edward T. Stotesbury dies at the age of 89 in 1938 and Mrs. Stotesbury soon closed the house and moved to Palm Beech, Florida. A long decline set in. 

If grand houses could be well-connected, Whitemarsh Hall certainly still was.  During the Second World War, it became the accepted safe haven for paintings from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. After the war, The Pennsylvania Salt Company, promising to keep up the formal gardens converted Whitemarsh Hall into a research laboratory. After 17 years in  a chemical purgatory, the estate was abandoned. Land had already been sold and developed with tracts of California-style bungalows. For another two decades the hall sat vacant. Sightseers, vandals, and realtors visited until 1980, when the building was demolished for more development.

       Start your tour here with PAGE 1 {A Brief History of Whitemarsh Hall}