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Elkins Park and Vicinity

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As the nineteenth century ended, Philadelphia's moneyed classes split into distinct groups that reflected social affiliation and heritage. The old elites developed Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia and the middle Main Line, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Rosemont, while the newly wealthy, most of whom made their fortunes after the Civil War, and more typically in finance and the building of great trusts, built estates north of the city in Ashbourne, Wyncote, Elkins Park, Jenkintown, and Cheltenham. Although architects for the elite such as Wilson Eyre Jr. and Cope and Stewardson built numerous houses in the region, it was Horace Trumbauer who gave this zone its Gilded Age tone. Trumbauer's earliest projects were smaller Queen Anne cottages, but with the completion of William Harrison's house, “Grey Towers” ( MO36), other mansions followed. His first building of consequence was for George Elkins, son of oil and traction magnate William Elkins, in 1896. Destroyed by fire in 1909, it was rebuilt the following year in a Jacobean Gothic style. Now St. Dominic's Hall, it is part of an important cluster in the vicinity of Ashbourne Road (the old name of the suburb). Two years later, Elkins Sr. commissioned Trumbauer to design a house in the free Italian Renaissance mode on Chelten Avenue. For Elkins daughter Stella Elkins Tyler, Trumbauer designed Georgian Terrace, an immense Georgian pile (1905) at 7725 Penrose Avenue, Elkins Park. Stella Elkins's studio was designed by George Howe in 1928 in a sleek John Soane mode that complemented the main house. Given to Temple University for its Fine Arts program in 1932, it marks the transition from the Gilded Age toward early modern.

Writing Credits

Author: 
George E. Thomas

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