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Important Homes in Philadelphia, PA.

Raven Hill Mansion, Philadelphia, Penn.
Built in 1802

Apparently owned by number of different individuals, the name that is most prominent is William Weightman. He was a partner in the firm of Powers and Weightman, a chemical supply manufacturing company. At one time he was considered to be the richest man in Pennsylvania. Weightman owned this house by 1844, however parts of this house may date as far back as 1802. He undertook major renovations to the home in 1876 and 1887. The noted Philadelphia architect, Willis Gaylord Hale was involved in much of this work. At Weightmans death in 1904, the property passed on to his daughter, Ann Marie. In 1910, Ann Marie gave the estate to the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. In 1919, the Archdiocese gave it to an order of nuns, Religious of the Assumption. They opened a private girl’s school which eventually became known as Ravenhill Academy. In 1982, the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science purchased the school and surrounding 27 acres. Presently, the mansion houses the administrative and faculty offices for the School of General Studies.

The Chapel was originally designed and built for use by Ravenhill Academy. The interior consisted of terrazzo floors, oak pews,

a marble alter and Glass Studios. In 1978, the Sisters of the Assumption (taught at Ravenhill Academy)  removed one window to their convent at 227 Bowman Ave., Bala Cynwyd and replaced the panel with similar ‘airy’ squares. The rose windows at Rosemont College were modeled after these windows. stained glass windows. The famous artist, Maguerite Gaudin, designed the stained glass windows. She was associated with Willet StainedWith the purchase of Ravenhill Academy in 1982, the college acquired this religious space. At the time of the sale, the chapel was desanctified. This 6,200 square foot space is currently utilized as space for studio instruction, exhibits, lectures, seminars and performances.

Goldie Paley House

Earle Bolton, Jr., a Philadelphia-based architect, designed this private residence. The house was originally built for Blanche Paley Levys in-laws, Ike and Rita Levy, in a style that Bolton referred to as, Hollywood ranch.

The marble-flanked entranceway leads to an expanse of windows that show the forest in the back of the house. All the major rooms, the living room, library and dining room open onto the next in orderly enfilade. Although, the house is a one-story ranch, the house encompasses over 7,000 square feet with 12-foot ceilings. The rear terrace curves along the homes entire length, under an undulating roof overhang supported by thin metal columns. Located in this curve is small swimming pool. Hidden behind a louvered door on the terrace is a mirror and faux-bamboo poolside bar. The house included nine bathrooms all decorated in a mirrored, Art-Deco style. The kitchen wing, along with a huge eight-burner stainless steel range, included three staff bedrooms and a painting studio.

In 1965, Goldie Paley acquired the house. At death of her husband, Samuel Paley she moved from her old world mansion in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, to this modern rancher at 4200 Henry Avenue. After Goldies death in 1977, her daughter Blanche Paley Levy donated this house to the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science.

At this time, the College owned various historical textiles, both fabrics and apparel. All these collections were consolidated and located within the new Goldie Paley Design Center. Major renovations turned this private home into offices and storage space for textile materials, these renovations included the creation of exhibition space. The dedication of the design center coincided with the opening of the first exhibition entitled A Fabric Bestiary on September 12, 1978.

In July of 2001, the Paley Design Center was renamed THE DESIGN CENTER AT PHILADELPHIA UNIVERSITY; its address remains the Goldie Paley House.

Hayward House

View of the front of Hayward in the early 1950’s.

This building was the first structure to be built by the Philadelphia Textile Institute on the recently purchased (1946) Kolb estate. It was originally designed as a multipurpose building housing classrooms, laboratories and faculty offices; while also leaving space on the original estate for future development.

The fade was designed along a simplified modem style utilizing warm-hued brick, marble and cast stone. Although functional in character the building was designed to fit into its “rural setting”. The original plans provided for a total of 90,000 square feet of floor space. Budgetary considerations were a major factor in determining the lack of architectural decoration but the architect was also interested in presenting a strictly functional design. The building was also to be a teaching example of the “modem textile plant”. Architecturally, the only exceptions were the entrance lobby that was marble lined and floored with terrazzo, and the large expanses of plate glass utilized to provide a clear view of classrooms and laboratories from halls and instructor’s offices. The rest of the interior was typical plant construction.

The ground floor was designed to provide accommodations for the Scholler Dye Laboratory, cotton and rayon finishing rooms, wool laboratory and worsted laboratory. Also located on this level was a fully equipped cafeteria, which could also serve as an auditorium and conference room. The first floor provided rooms for cotton and rayon processing, cotton picking, knitting, hand weaving, yam and spinning, beaming, drawing- in and facilities for rayon, cotton and wool weaving. The second floor housed the inorganic and organic chemistry laboratories, areas for qualitative and quantitative analysis, spectroscopy, microscopy, physics, physical testing, photographic darkroom, cloth analysis, balance department, jacquard weaving and card cutting. Because of the testing instrumentation, air-conditioning was installed on part of this floor.

The movement of heavy textile machinery was a major consideration in the overall interior layout. A large industrial elevator serviced all floors. Driveways were placed on either end of the building at the ground level so that the central hallways of all three floors were accessible. Each of these corridors ended with large overhead doors and was supplemented by the placement of a roof-top cathead installation on each side of the building.

The building was named after Bertrand W. Hayward, who was the College Dean from 1947 to 1973. This building presently houses the School of Textiles and Materials Technology and the School of Science and Health.

Presidents House

The man who may have built this home was Abraham Martin (1793-1880). In 1834 Martin purchased 24 acres and a stone dwelling from the estate of James Moyes. It is not clear whether the house of 1834 is the same as that at 3400 today or whether it was on a portion of the 24 acres different from the 10 plus acres he sold in 1866.

Martin was active in the American Sunday-School Union. His biographical sketch (from Union records) reports that he managed an infants retreat in Germantown prior to 1851 and Martins mortgage for the house in 1850 calls the place The Retreat. Hotchkin in his book ANCIENT AND MODERN GERMANTOWN (published in 1889) describes the infants retreat as a boarding school for children whose parents were absent or traveling. Hotchkin describes the architecture of the house as Greek Revival, old-fashioned and either stuccoed or painted white, in the popularized American custom of a Greek temple. Later the house was used as a boarding and day school by Mary Spafford.

Philip Guckes purchased the property in 1870 and erected a brewery along a narrow creek at the rear of the parcel. The path of the creek is now followed by Warden Drive. Guckes apparently failed in business since he lost his house, brewery, and land at Sheriffs Sale in 1883.

This property was purchased by William G Warden in 1888. He was a major figure in Philadelphia finance and industry and at this time he was developing large tracts of land in East Falls. The School House Lane Company was owned by the Warden family and John H McClatchy. When purchased by Warden the property extended back from School House Lane more than a quarter mile. More than half of that land was used for the laying out of Vaux Street and Warden Drive. The 9.24 acres purchased by Warden in 1888 was subdivided so that when members of the family sold it in 1925 only about 3.5 acres remained.

It was occupied by various members of this family during this time period. Barbara Warden, daughter or granddaughter of William Warden, who purchased the property in 1888, married William J. Strawbridge (related to Justus C Strawbridge, founder of S & C) in 1909. In the Social Register they are listed as living here in 1910 and 1911. William died August 13, 1911 and Barbara continued to live here through 1917. In 1917, she moved with her two children to Chestnut Hill. The School House Lane Co was the deed holder until 1925 when John McClatchy was listed as the owner.

In 1927 McClatchy sold the 3.3 acres of property to Percy C. Madiera. He engaged the prominent Philadelphia architectural firm of Mellor Meigs & Howe to alter and add to the already large residence. Over $114,000 was spent on the property according to the old ledgers of this architectural firm. This amount of money probably effected sweeping changes in the house and grounds, though the precise details cannot be known as the plans apparently have not survived. The Madiera family lived here only twelve years. During this time, they suffered a spectacular burglary in 1930. The family moved to Haverford in 1939.

In 1944, David Johnson Matlack purchased the property; there is some indication that he rented the house for a few years prior to his purchase. Matlack, a Penn graduate (1913) and Philadelphia Textile School alumni (1922), was a partner in a yarn manufacturing company located in Manayunk. In 1970, Emily and David sold the house to the college. It was not until 1985 that the college approved of a program to renovate the home so that it may be used by the college’s president and his family.

Ravenhill Mansion

Front of Ravenhill Mansion in 1982.

Apparently owned by number of different individuals, the name that is most prominent is William Weightman. He was a partner in the firm of Powers and Weightman, a chemical supply manufacturing company. At one time he was considered to be the richest man in Pennsylvania. Weightman owned

this house by 1844; however parts of this house may date as far back as 1802. He then undertook major renovations to the home in 1876 and 1887. The noted Philadelphia architect, Willis Gaylord Hale was involved in much of this work. At Weightmans death in 1904, the property passed on to his daughter, Ann Marie.

In 1910, Ann Marie gave the estate to the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. In 1919, the Archdiocese gave it to an order of nuns, Religious of the Assumption. They opened a private girl’s school which eventually became known as Ravenhill Academy. In 1982, the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science purchased the school and surrounding 27 acres.

Presently, the mansion houses the administrative and faculty offices for the School of General Studies. There are also spaces for campus meetings and catered events. Classrooms R11 through R35 are located here.

Roxboro House

At least part of this building dates back to 1779, to what extent is questionable. It is possible that Richard Hill Morris built the present home in 1800. This is a Georgian period house constructed of frame and clapboard, which was expanded and given a portico in 1810. 

A few years later Dr. Caspar Wistar, who published the first American textbook of anatomy in 1811, apparently owned it. He was well known in Philadelphia society and the president of the American Philosophical Society from 1815 to 1818. His friend, Thomas Nuttall, a famous botanist, named the Wisteria after him. It is said that Dr. Wistar enlarged the house with the addition of the distinctive wings on either side of the house.

Around the 1830’s, the house was acquired by members of the Brown family which owned the house until 1915 with the death of Mary Walin Wistar Brown. In 1965 the Philadelphia Historical Commission added this house to its list of registered buildings (No. 141).

Prior to the Universitys purchase of the property in 1998, the house was being used as a Bed and Breakfast establishment.

Student Center, Lankenau School

Lankenau School purchased this property from the estate of William G Warden in June of 1942. Warden’s father had been one of the founders of Atlantic Refining Company. This property consisted of a manor house and a gatehouse on eight acres.

In 1972, Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science purchased the Lankenau School complex, which included this former mansion. This building served as the administrative center and dining facilities for Lankenau. In 1974 after extensive renovation the 30-room building became game rooms, conference rooms, meeting rooms, lounges, studies, and interviewing rooms for the Placement Service.

In 2006, the building was demolished. Offices and services formerly available in the Student Center are now located in the Kanbar Campus Center.

White Corners

The home on the northeast corner of Henry Ave. and School House Lane was built between 1914 and 1920 for Viola Carstairs. Leon and Blanche Levy purchased this neo-classical mansion in the 1930’s.

Blanche Levy was the daughter of Goldie Paley (see Goldie Paley House). The original house contained a master bedroom suite with two dressing rooms and two bathrooms, plus four more bedrooms and three baths. The house contained a total of 13 bathrooms, and a small kitchen on the

Airy in November of 1951. However, the Levy house was used as a decoy to fool the local media. Rumors were circulated that the wedding would occur at Levys home and since he was a friend of Sinatras and a broadcast executive, the story was considered to be plausible. Rsecond floor. The third floor was devoted to servant quarters. A chauffeur, a butler, an upstairs maid, a downstairs maid and a kitchen person staffed the house. Outside the house, there was a tennis court and a swimming pool on the eastern end of the property. In the 1950s another pool, with a pool house, was built directly in the back of the house because Mrs. Levy did not want to walk so far to swim.

Robert Levy, Blanches son, was an alumni of William Penn Charter School, (class of 1948) and very active in its affairs. In 1987, Blanche Levy gave the property to Penn Charter, under the condition that she could occupy it for the rest of her life.

In 1992, Philadelphia

College of Textiles and Science purchased the property from Penn Charter. In November of 1995 a $700,000 renovation program was initiated which culminated with the offices of Admissions and Financial Aid moving into the building in April of 1996.

There is local legend that Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner were married in this house. Actually, Frank and Ava were married at 506 W Springer St. in West Mount


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