Monday, June 20, 2011
Situated in the same neighborhood as the dilapidated Lynnewood Hall, rests another hidden gem. The Elkins Estate was the Summer home of transportation tycoon William Elkins. The estate consisted of 5 buildings, with 2 homes. The 45 room Elstowe Manor was used primarily by the family, while the smaller Chelton house was built specifically for William's son, George. Both homes were designed by famed architect Horace Trumbauer.
The Estowe Manor was extravagantly designed, no expense was spared. The Italian Renaissance home was constructed of exquisite woods and fine marble. Unfortunately for William he only got to enjoy his Summer retreat for a brief time. Mr. Elkins passed in the home in 1903 at the age of 71. During William Elkins life he played a very key role in Philadelphia transportation. After his death all traffic in Philadelphia came to a halt, in order to pay respects. This is the first and only time this has ever occurred in the city.
Fortunately this family's home fared better than the lost palaces of Lynnewood and Whitemarsh Hall. For many decades the home was owned by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine de' Ricci. The sisters took tremendous care of the luxurious estate. They eventually sold off the property after 75 years of maintaining it's tedious upkeep.
Today the home is owned by the non-profit group Food for Life. The group helps to feed the less fortunate in the Philadelphia area. Sadly they are beginning to feel the burdens of retaining such a luxurious property. In order to sustain the hindrances they have recently begun to use the home for wedding photography sessions. The good people at Food for Life are not only hoping to preserve history but also humanity.
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