final bell “tolls” for foxcatcher farm

Main Line Media News: Historic DuPont mansion goes under the wreckers ball

Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013

By Pete Bannan

tollMotorists along Goshen Road in Newtown Square may have seen the final act of the John DuPont saga, as it appears his family home Liseter Hall is being demolished to make way for over 400 homes in the new Toll Bros. development of Liseter Estates.

The house was built by his grandfather for his parents wedding and DuPont grew up in the mansion. When his mother died in 1988 he turned the property into an amateur sports training mecca called Foxcatcher Farms….DuPont died in prison in December 2010 at Laurel Highlands in Somerset County, Pa.

A movie is in the works called “Foxcatcher” starring Steve  Carell as John DuPont.


Boom, crash, bang, groan, squeal,thud.  Those are among the sounds structures make when they are being demolished.

John DuPont’s former Foxcatcher Farm on Goshen Road and 252 is basically a big pile of rubble now.

Thanks to Toll Brothers coming in to essentially takeover whatever the last development plan was and “improve” the area with a plan more grotesque than Byers Station or Applebrook Meadows, nothing shall stand in the way now of a Stepford wife development of plastic Tyvec wrapped Barbie’s dream carriage homes, right?

Do I sound harsh? Sorry, am feeling harsh, because although it is not a surprise that this land would be developed, one would have thought that Newtown Township would have had a couple of brain cells left to better manage a plan that is not what this is, which is a total cram plan. But then again, isn’t this the municipality that used to let crazy John DuPont run around and play cop years ago?

I am somewhat irritated by the lack of land stewardship on the part of the DuPont family when it came to Foxcatcher Farm.  All that land stewardship and historic preservation from Winterthur to Longwood Gardens to Fair Hill there is this giant legacy of preservation in the DuPont family.  But not with this property.  Of course, that deal which leads to today’s development seems to have started when John DuPont was in prison.  I think it’s a shame the family couldn’t have stopped it then..  It wasn’t like it wasn’t a known fact that he was crazy as a hoot owl, right?  (However what is happening here should be a lesson to those in Radnor Township with regard to The Willows  and Ardrossan – but heck maybe they will just rename the township Holloway Township, right?)

Anyway, sign me disgusted on this one.  And hope Newtown holds them to good stormwater management, right?  And good septic if they aren’t on public sewer (Byers station reeks sometimes, doesn’t it?)  And did I hear right that Toll is sniffing around some giant land parcel in West Vincent or someplace around there?  Is that true? Lock up what is left of the open space people. That’s all I am saying.

Once the land is gone, it is gone. Once historic homes are gone, they are but salvage and rubble.

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2 thoughts on “final bell “tolls” for foxcatcher farm

  1. This all just makes me sick. We are rehabbing one of the original Chester springs homes, having left a cookie cutter McMansion to do so…. This area needs to remember where it came from

  2. 450+/- acres (of the original 800) is a huge chunk of land, and the historic resources that will be lost on this site is a tragedy (Visit the Newtown Square Historical Society’s website for a partial inventory of the structures dating back to the 1800’s that were found on Foxcatcher). But I also do not believe that Newtown twp has a historic preservation ordinance (correct me if I am wrong). As for stormwater, Newtown requires developments to plan for a 2-year storm, nothing more severe, which are an increasingly common ocurance, and anyone who has walked Goshen road near Foxcatcher has seen the amount of water that comes off of that site as is (let alone when the open space is paved/developed.)Echo Valley is already dealing with stormwater issues from EA and “White Horse” can’t imagine this and Ellis Town Center will be much of a relief.

    The “Main Line” has a long proud history of bragging about its historic wealth, open space and estates – and then honoring that heritage by developing all of those sites not already protected by local governments or land trusts. It will be interesting to see if the Scott heirs go ahead with their development of Ardrossan as illustrated by the housing site plan sent around to Radnor residents last December.

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