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Map: Grand Estates and Lost Mansions of Gilded Age Architect Horace Trumbauer

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Horace Trumbauer doesn't have the name recognition of many of his turn-of-the-century peers (he avoided interviews and supposedly wrote no articles ). During his lifetime, he was derided in some corners for being merely a designer for showpiece mansions for America's upper crust. But while Trumbauer was known for his extravagant clientele, the Philadelphia architect would also come to be respected for work completed during the Gilded Age and Roaring Twenties that, possessed of a modern refinement, still demonstrated a devotion to historical precedent. During a period where styles rapidly changed, Trumbauer was able to evolve from French Classical to Art Deco, helping his firm maintain a full slate of projects even through the Depression.

While his robber baron clients didn't share the same social status as Trumbauer, it could be said the architect shared a similar appreciation for drive and ambition. At age 16, after dropping out of school, Trumbauer apprenticed himself to George and William Hewitt, a firm helmed by siblings who were enthralled with English design and gave a young Louis Sullivan his first shot. After a six-year stint, he set out on his own, forming his own firm at age 21 and quickly making an impression designing modest residential commissions (he was paid $171 with a $7 stipend for transportation for his first job). His project budgets quickly skyrocketed; in the early 1890s, William Welsh Harrison, co-owner of a sugar refinery, hired the young Trumbauer to build him a literal stone castle in the Philadelphia suburbs. That project, Gray Towers, would help cement Trumbauer's reputation as a designers of grand homes, a role he would embrace until his death in 1938. While he did expand his repertoire over the year, working on a variety of campus, religious and institutions structures (his firm designed the Gothic campus of Duke, specifically head designer and African-American associate Julian Abele), Trumbauer is perhaps best remembered as the self-made architect who conjured up some of the most magnificent homes the nation has ever seen.


· Map: Extravagant U.S. Estates of the Gilded Age & Roaring '20s [Curbed]
· Mapping the Lost Mansions of Chicago's Gilded Age [Curbed Chicago]

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1. Grey Towers Castle

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450 S Easton Rd
Glenside, PA 19038

This massive extravagance, a 40-room mansion modeled after the English castle at Alnwick, helped put Trumbauer on the map. Costing roughly $6.6 million in today’s dollars, the home for sugar baron William Welsh Harrison in suburban Glenside, Pennsylvania, was a menagerie of styles and flourishes, from mantlepieces and cabinetry inspired by the chateaus of France to the mirror room, painted with a mural depicting the seasons as women, surrounded by zodiac signs and cupids. One of the nation’s largest homes when it was completed in 1893, the complex was donated to Beaver College (now known as Arcadia University) in 1929. Students recount numerous legends about the buildings, including tales of the secret passageways Mr. Harrison used to conduct numerous illicit affairs behind the back of his wife.

2. Chetwode

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9 Victoria Ave
Newport, RI 02840

A summer escape for the aristocrats of the Gilded Age, Newport, Rhode Island, has seen plenty of flashy homes. But Chetwode, a limestone-clad chateau Trumbauer designed for the Wells family in 1903, is considered one of the most lavish of the lot. Salons covered in white and gold decoration recalled the ostentation of Versailles, while paintings by old masters lined the walls. Later owned by the Astors, the building was demolished in 1973 after a chimney fire damaged multiple rooms (the stable garage is now the site of condos).

3. Elms

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367 Bellevue Ave
Newport, RI 02840

Trumbauer was no stranger to Newport, however, having previously designed this Beaux Arts beauty (now a national landmark and open for public tours) for Edward Julius Berwind. Finished for roughly $1.4 million in 1901, the manse takes its design cues from the 18th century chateau d'Asnieres outside Paris, and the then in vogue French classical style. The home was a showpiece and statement of the owner’s social stature; Berwind, who made his money in the coal trade by supplying the U.S. Navy, among other clients, was as well-known a mogul at the time as Frick, Carnegie or Ford. Though Trumbauer never studied overseas, like many of his peers, he was a stickler for period details and accurate reproductions, and the Elms still stands as an exemplary model of French revival architecture. The three-story home boasted a grand facade, a garden with marble terraces, and numerous period details and furnishings; the grand ballroom, which contains the original crystal chandeliers, is still a highlight.

4. Whitemarsh Hall

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1409 Cromwell Rd
Wyndmoor, PA 19038

1920’s Banker Edward Stotesbury didn’t economize when it came to wedding gifts. His betrothed (and second wife) Eva was the object of his affection and the recipient of this expansive, 147-room mansion designed by Trumbauer and finished in 1921. Built during the first World War (many of the European furnishings were delayed in delivery due to fighting on the western front) on a 300-acre estate in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, the 100,000-square-foot Neo-Georgian mansion (larger than the White House) boasted 45 bathrooms, greenhouses and gardens, a movie theater and even a refrigeration plant. It supposedly cost $1 million in upkeep annually. Stotesbury turned this “American Versailles” into the scene of lavish parties throughout the ‘20s, with guests carousing amid a world-class collection of English portraits, oriental rugs and a sprawling French garden landscaped by Jacques Greger. Sadly for fans of the architecture of this era, the building was eventually sold after the Depression (after her husband’s death, Eva donated metal from the home’s fence to make guns for the war effort). A chemical company later bought the mansion and turned it into a research lab, but after moving locations, the buildings fell into disrepair and were torn down in 1980. Small reminders of the grand estate, including statues and fountains, still litter the landscape.

5. Shadow Lawn Mansion

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Norwood Ave & Cedar Ave
West Long Branch, NJ 07764

Now part of Monmouth University and known as Wilson Hall, this magnificent private residence, built in 1929, showed Trumbauer collaborating with Julian Abele, a pioneering African-American professional architect and chief designer at his firm. Designed as a home for Hubert Templeton Parson, former Woolworth Co. President, and his wife Maysie, this neoclassical French structure featured 50 types of Italian marble, limestone from the same quarry that supplied the Empire State building, and a 24 -by-93-foot rug in the grand hall that was specially made in the Canary Islands. It’s always been a location associated with wealth; it was previously the home of another grand aristocratic mansion owner by Hubert Parson, which Woodrow Wilson used as a summer White House in 1915, and the existing building was used in the film version of Annie to portray Daddy Warbucks’s home.

6. Philadelphia Museum of Art

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Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Philadelphia, PA 19130

While technically done under the heading of Horace Trumbauer’s eponymous firm, the design for the Philadelphia Museum of Art is considered the work two other architects in his employ: Julian Abele and Howell Lewis Shay. Finished in 1928 after nearly a decade of work the structure was once derisively called the “Great Greek Garage,” though the temple-like design has since been nicknamed the Parthenon on the parkway by its supporters. Anybody who has seen the famous training montage in Rocky is already acquainted with the grand stairs leading up to the Greek Revival structure, but the building also contains numerous other striking details, including a pediment decorated in a polychrome sculpture called “Western Civilization.”

7. The John R. Drexel Mansion

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1 E 62nd St
New York, NY 10065

A four-story French mansion built in Manhattan for the scion of a rich Philadelphia family, the Drexel Mansion is one of a handful of Trumbauer commissions in New York City. The relatively sober 40-room structure was eventually split into a series of apartments after the Depression ended the era of grandiose estates, which housed celebs such as Ernest Hemingway and Joan Rivers, who spent a fortune on restoration, as shown in the adjacent photo.

8. Lynnewood Hall

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920 Spring Ave
Elkins Park, PA 19027

One of the largest surviving Gilded Age estates in the Philadelphia area, this formerly grand structure is actually for sale. Trumbauer designed this 110-room, T-shaped Neoclassical Revival mansion for businessman Peter A. B. Widener at the turn of the century. While it's currently in a state of disrepair, it once housed one of the most impressive art collections in America (it had a Raphael room as well as 14 Rembrandts) and contained a luxurious interior, its own electric power plant, a polo field and a private racetrack.

9. Ardrossan Estate

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811 Newtown Rd
Villanova, PA 19085

Built in 1911 for Col. Robert Leaming Montgomery, the three-story, 38,000-square-foot, 50-room Georgian Revival home was the inspiration for The Philadelphia Story. It once sat upon an 800-acre estate, named after the family's ancestral home in Scotland, that contained dozens of buildings. Recently, a descendant of the family has announced plans to sell off part of the estate to developers.

10. James B. Duke Mansion

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1 E 78th St
New York, NY 10075

Trumbauer designed this mansion on the famed Millionaire's Row for tobacco baron James B. Duke in 1909. Modeled after an 18th century Bordeaux hotel, the building, celebrated for its textured facade, was donated to the Institute of Fine Arts in 1952. The industrialist would remember Trumbauer when he later hired his firm to design buildings for the campus that was later named after him.

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1. Grey Towers Castle

450 S Easton Rd, Glenside, PA 19038

This massive extravagance, a 40-room mansion modeled after the English castle at Alnwick, helped put Trumbauer on the map. Costing roughly $6.6 million in today’s dollars, the home for sugar baron William Welsh Harrison in suburban Glenside, Pennsylvania, was a menagerie of styles and flourishes, from mantlepieces and cabinetry inspired by the chateaus of France to the mirror room, painted with a mural depicting the seasons as women, surrounded by zodiac signs and cupids. One of the nation’s largest homes when it was completed in 1893, the complex was donated to Beaver College (now known as Arcadia University) in 1929. Students recount numerous legends about the buildings, including tales of the secret passageways Mr. Harrison used to conduct numerous illicit affairs behind the back of his wife.

450 S Easton Rd
Glenside, PA 19038

2. Chetwode

9 Victoria Ave, Newport, RI 02840

A summer escape for the aristocrats of the Gilded Age, Newport, Rhode Island, has seen plenty of flashy homes. But Chetwode, a limestone-clad chateau Trumbauer designed for the Wells family in 1903, is considered one of the most lavish of the lot. Salons covered in white and gold decoration recalled the ostentation of Versailles, while paintings by old masters lined the walls. Later owned by the Astors, the building was demolished in 1973 after a chimney fire damaged multiple rooms (the stable garage is now the site of condos).

9 Victoria Ave
Newport, RI 02840

3. Elms

367 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI 02840

Trumbauer was no stranger to Newport, however, having previously designed this Beaux Arts beauty (now a national landmark and open for public tours) for Edward Julius Berwind. Finished for roughly $1.4 million in 1901, the manse takes its design cues from the 18th century chateau d'Asnieres outside Paris, and the then in vogue French classical style. The home was a showpiece and statement of the owner’s social stature; Berwind, who made his money in the coal trade by supplying the U.S. Navy, among other clients, was as well-known a mogul at the time as Frick, Carnegie or Ford. Though Trumbauer never studied overseas, like many of his peers, he was a stickler for period details and accurate reproductions, and the Elms still stands as an exemplary model of French revival architecture. The three-story home boasted a grand facade, a garden with marble terraces, and numerous period details and furnishings; the grand ballroom, which contains the original crystal chandeliers, is still a highlight.

367 Bellevue Ave
Newport, RI 02840

4. Whitemarsh Hall

1409 Cromwell Rd, Wyndmoor, PA 19038

1920’s Banker Edward Stotesbury didn’t economize when it came to wedding gifts. His betrothed (and second wife) Eva was the object of his affection and the recipient of this expansive, 147-room mansion designed by Trumbauer and finished in 1921. Built during the first World War (many of the European furnishings were delayed in delivery due to fighting on the western front) on a 300-acre estate in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, the 100,000-square-foot Neo-Georgian mansion (larger than the White House) boasted 45 bathrooms, greenhouses and gardens, a movie theater and even a refrigeration plant. It supposedly cost $1 million in upkeep annually. Stotesbury turned this “American Versailles” into the scene of lavish parties throughout the ‘20s, with guests carousing amid a world-class collection of English portraits, oriental rugs and a sprawling French garden landscaped by Jacques Greger. Sadly for fans of the architecture of this era, the building was eventually sold after the Depression (after her husband’s death, Eva donated metal from the home’s fence to make guns for the war effort). A chemical company later bought the mansion and turned it into a research lab, but after moving locations, the buildings fell into disrepair and were torn down in 1980. Small reminders of the grand estate, including statues and fountains, still litter the landscape.

1409 Cromwell Rd
Wyndmoor, PA 19038

5. Shadow Lawn Mansion

Norwood Ave & Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, NJ 07764

Now part of Monmouth University and known as Wilson Hall, this magnificent private residence, built in 1929, showed Trumbauer collaborating with Julian Abele, a pioneering African-American professional architect and chief designer at his firm. Designed as a home for Hubert Templeton Parson, former Woolworth Co. President, and his wife Maysie, this neoclassical French structure featured 50 types of Italian marble, limestone from the same quarry that supplied the Empire State building, and a 24 -by-93-foot rug in the grand hall that was specially made in the Canary Islands. It’s always been a location associated with wealth; it was previously the home of another grand aristocratic mansion owner by Hubert Parson, which Woodrow Wilson used as a summer White House in 1915, and the existing building was used in the film version of Annie to portray Daddy Warbucks’s home.

Norwood Ave & Cedar Ave
West Long Branch, NJ 07764

6. Philadelphia Museum of Art

Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130

While technically done under the heading of Horace Trumbauer’s eponymous firm, the design for the Philadelphia Museum of Art is considered the work two other architects in his employ: Julian Abele and Howell Lewis Shay. Finished in 1928 after nearly a decade of work the structure was once derisively called the “Great Greek Garage,” though the temple-like design has since been nicknamed the Parthenon on the parkway by its supporters. Anybody who has seen the famous training montage in Rocky is already acquainted with the grand stairs leading up to the Greek Revival structure, but the building also contains numerous other striking details, including a pediment decorated in a polychrome sculpture called “Western Civilization.”

Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Philadelphia, PA 19130

7. The John R. Drexel Mansion

1 E 62nd St, New York, NY 10065

A four-story French mansion built in Manhattan for the scion of a rich Philadelphia family, the Drexel Mansion is one of a handful of Trumbauer commissions in New York City. The relatively sober 40-room structure was eventually split into a series of apartments after the Depression ended the era of grandiose estates, which housed celebs such as Ernest Hemingway and Joan Rivers, who spent a fortune on restoration, as shown in the adjacent photo.

1 E 62nd St
New York, NY 10065

8. Lynnewood Hall

920 Spring Ave, Elkins Park, PA 19027

One of the largest surviving Gilded Age estates in the Philadelphia area, this formerly grand structure is actually for sale. Trumbauer designed this 110-room, T-shaped Neoclassical Revival mansion for businessman Peter A. B. Widener at the turn of the century. While it's currently in a state of disrepair, it once housed one of the most impressive art collections in America (it had a Raphael room as well as 14 Rembrandts) and contained a luxurious interior, its own electric power plant, a polo field and a private racetrack.

920 Spring Ave
Elkins Park, PA 19027

9. Ardrossan Estate

811 Newtown Rd, Villanova, PA 19085

Built in 1911 for Col. Robert Leaming Montgomery, the three-story, 38,000-square-foot, 50-room Georgian Revival home was the inspiration for The Philadelphia Story. It once sat upon an 800-acre estate, named after the family's ancestral home in Scotland, that contained dozens of buildings. Recently, a descendant of the family has announced plans to sell off part of the estate to developers.

811 Newtown Rd
Villanova, PA 19085

10. James B. Duke Mansion

1 E 78th St, New York, NY 10075

Trumbauer designed this mansion on the famed Millionaire's Row for tobacco baron James B. Duke in 1909. Modeled after an 18th century Bordeaux hotel, the building, celebrated for its textured facade, was donated to the Institute of Fine Arts in 1952. The industrialist would remember Trumbauer when he later hired his firm to design buildings for the campus that was later named after him.

1 E 78th St
New York, NY 10075