The Fascinating Financial History of Lynnewood Hall in Pennsylvania

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Lynnewood Hall (Elkins Park, Pennsylvania): 70,000 square feet

Lynnewood Hall is a massive mansion located in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, that has captivated the attention of locals and tourists for years. Constructed between 1897 and 1900 for the Widener family, one of the wealthiest families in the United States at the time, the mansion served as a symbol of their incredible wealth and power. However, the fortunes of Lynnewood Hall would change drastically over the years, as its finances became a source of controversy and uncertainty.

Originally built for Peter A. B. Widener, a prominent businessman and philanthropist, Lynnewood Hall was designed by the renowned architect Horace Trumbauer. The mansion was modeled after the Palace of Versailles in France, featuring grand halls, ornate decorations, and acres of manicured gardens. The property was also home to a private art collection, including works by Rembrandt, Rubens, and Van Dyck, among others.

However, the financial fortunes of the Widener family began to decline in the early 20th century. In 1912, Peter A. B. Widener’s son, George, and grandson, Harry, were both killed in the sinking of the Titanic. This tragedy, combined with the financial turmoil of the Great Depression, led the family to sell off many of their assets, including Lynnewood Hall. The mansion was purchased by the Faith Theological Seminary in 1952, and it served as their headquarters until 2003.

Over the years, the finances of Lynnewood Hall have been a source of concern for many. The mansion requires constant upkeep, and the cost of maintaining the property and restoring it to its former glory has been estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars. The current owner, a Florida-based developer named Richard Snowden, has expressed a desire to restore the mansion and turn it into a luxury hotel, but the project has faced numerous setbacks.

In 2020, the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners voted to place a historic preservation easement on Lynnewood Hall, which would protect the property from demolition or significant alteration. However, the easement also restricts the owner’s ability to sell the property, which has led to legal challenges from Snowden.

The uncertain financial future of Lynnewood Hall has led to concerns among locals and preservationists, who fear that the mansion could fall into disrepair or be sold to developers who would demolish the historic structure. However, there is also hope that the mansion’s incredible history and architectural beauty will continue to attract attention and support, ensuring that it remains a cherished part of Pennsylvania’s cultural heritage for years to come.

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