The House of P. A. B. Widener, Esq.
From AMERICAN ESTATES AND GARDENS by Barr Ferree published 1906
THE magnificent residence of Mr. P. A. B. Widener, at Ashbourne, Pennsylvania, is one of the most sumptuous houses in the immediate neighborhood of Philadelphia. It is a house of the largest size, truly palatial in its dimensions, quite soberly treated, dignified, with a stately portico as the conspicuous feature of the main front. The porches, indeed, constitute the chief external adornment, for the front walls are plain, with widely spaced pilasters, each panel containing two windows in somewhat severe frames. This motif is carried wholly around the house, the various fronts differing only from the main front in the spacing of the pilasters, the arrangement of the windows, and the size and shape of the porches. A high balustrade completely surrounds the roof line, save where it is interrupted by the entrance portico.
The very spacious grounds are beautifully developed as an Italian garden, with the architectural accompaniments of retaining walls, steps, balustrades, and other adjuncts which are so essential to gardening of this kind, but which are seldom carried out on a scale so truly grand as here. The beautiful lawns, the beds and banks of flowers, the palms, hydrangeas, bay trees, and other plants in tubs and jars, are arranged in excellent taste and form a fine environment for the great house to which they belong.
The palatial grandeur that the exterior so well expresses is richly developed within. The hall occupies the center of the house and is a splendid room, thirty-six feet square and two stories in height. It is completely built of Caen stone. The walls are divided into bays, with great pilasters supporting the cornice at the ceiling; below are round-arched openings and doors; above are a rectangular window. opening into a gallery that is carried around the hall, with richly chased bronze railings. The stairway rises immediately from the central arch of the farther side and is continued within to the upper story. A gigantic Chinese vase supporting a candelabrum stands on each side of the steps. Before the mantelpiece are busts of Cosmo de’ Medici and his wife, by Bernini. The hangings are of red velvet embroidered with gold, and in the center of the room is a large carved table supported on gilt figures. The colors, as a whole, as given by the hangings and rugs, are red, white, and gold, and the decorative treatment is very rich and sumptuous. The more important rooms open directly from the hall. On the right are the reception-room, billiard-room, and library, the latter a great apartment, fifty feet square. On the left, a smaller hall leads to the smoking-room and sitting-room, and to the dining-room and the breakfast-room. All of these rooms are palatial, hospitable in size, lavish in their appointments, and present excellent examples of present-day tendencies in costly dwellings. This is particularly true of this house, for Mr. Widener gave up a grand city mansion that he had built for himself, in order to live in this great new house. It is located in a pleasant suburb of Philadelphia, but near enough to the city to be quite sufficiently close for business and social affairs. It stands just outside Of built-tip Philadelphia, in a lovely rural neighborhood, where the pleasures of country life, when centered in such a home, must be almost unlimited. The chief room on the second floor is the picture gallery, entered through an antechamber. Here is housed one of the richest and finest collections of paintings in the United States. The collection has been formed with unusual taste and discrimination and includes many paintings both fine in themselves and thoroughly representative of the best work of the best artists of all periods. It. is at once the chief pride of its owner and the crowning distinction of his house, for this room, more than the sumptuous living-rooms is the real center of Mr. Widener’s house and gives it an importance and interest that few other great houses in America possess.
A blog solely on Lynnewood HERE
Encyclopedia-Titanica Article HERE
The Widener Poker Chip set from Yacht Josephine HERE
This mansion is for sale rare Gilded Age survival 110 rooms
the price cut 1 million dollars. See it HERE