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Cabrini College (“Woodcrest,” James W. Paul, John and Edna Dorrance House)

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“Woodcrest,” James W. Paul, John and Edna Dorrance House
1899–1900, Horace Trumbauer; 1929. 600 block King of Prussia Rd., 2 miles northeast of Wayne

When Henry James coined the term “white elephants” for the out-of-date mansions of Newport, he could have been describing the great country houses of c. 1900 vintage. Fortunately, more than a few have become the basis for new institutions, enriching the Philadelphia countryside. The headquarters of Cabrini College owes its glory to two great Philadelphia fortunes, that of James W. Paul, son-in-law to financier Anthony J. Drexel, and John Dorrance, who solved the problem of condensing soup for the Campbell Soup Company that in turn put “mmm-mmm-good” in every household. Paul commissioned Trumbauer to design his immense half-timber-clad country seat. Of local schist with limestone trim and half timber on the wings and flanking the entrance, it gives the air of a house that evolved over time, though in a very ordered way. The stable, like that built at “Grey Towers” ( MO36) for William Harrison, recalls the fortified farms of Normandy then being discovered by young architects. After Paul's death, the house was acquired by the Dorrances, who removed the dark late Victorian interiors and commissioned Earl A. Belmont, Inc., to renovate the great hall, reception room, and library in the lighter hues and forms of the Elizabethan age.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas


What's Nearby


George E. Thomas, "Cabrini College (“Woodcrest,” James W. Paul, John and Edna Dorrance House)", [Radnor Township, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 2

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, George E. Thomas, with Patricia Likos Ricci, Richard J. Webster, Lawrence M. Newman, Robert Janosov, and Bruce Thomas. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 237-237.

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