The most notable of the great estates remaining in the entire Philadelphia region is “Ardrossan,” which still occupies some five hundred of its original acres, including the core farm and tenant farm buildings. The estate is marked by a great wall along its perimeter with gatehouses, barns, tenant houses, and stables all sharing the local stone and simple detail befitting their utilitarian purposes. The house, by contrast, is Georgian of red brick with limestone trim that is approached by the requisite curving drive affording glimpses of the main building amidst ancient oaks. Completing the English illusion is the rear lawn, which ends in a ha-ha to keep the cattle out without a fence. The house itself is an adaptation of Ernest Newton's Ardenrun Place in Surrey, England (1906), but serves modern gentry by inflating its volumes. The interior decorations were turned over to the London decorators White, Allom and Co., who had served English royals for a century. The most splendid space is the dining room ornamented with a great fireplace accented by swags in the manner of Christopher Wren's great woodcarver Grinling Gibbons, and hung with portraits of ancestors, many showing the benefits of the healthy glow that Thomas Sully gave his subjects. The Montgomery family married into the Scott family of Pennsylvania Railroad fame; their daughter, Hope Scott Montgomery, became the model for Philip Barry's Tracy Lord in the quintessential movie Philadelphia Story (1940).
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“Ardrossan,” Robert L. Montgomery Estate
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