the curious case of the mysterious schmatta scammer and la ronda

La Ronda through trees that also really do not exist any longer. Taken by me 2009

This morning some man contacts my blog. Wants me to sign a boilerplate- from -the -internet licensing agreement so he can use one of my La Ronda photos or more in his “fashion ”

Please note, there was no mention of compensation to me for my images. He just wanted me to let him use them. Uhh no, you are kind of a random schmatta salesman.


Oh, and he sends me his Instagram page of his “fashion.” I wouldn’t call it fashion.


Yes, I know I’ll took a lot of photos of La Ronda before she came down in 2009. But I am also not a charity. And that’s kind of insulting. Someone wants to use my photos so they can make money and I’m just supposed to say “OK here you go, have fun!”

Funny thing about his Instagram page https://instagram.com/new_elixir – when it was first in the comment you could see it, but as soon as I followed it after saying no? Page disappeared. Poof! Like magic!


If you ever see La Ronda photos show up being advertised on Instagram on T-shirts please let me know.

La Ronda was something quite emotional for me. I photographed the Addison Mizner mansion’s last few months of life through her gates. With my camera, I recorded the entirety of her demolition. So this schmatta scammer gives me the excuse to talk about La Ronda one more time as a PRIME example of WHY we need historic preservation and WHY what we have in Pennsylvania does not work.

Here is the article my friend Bonnie Cook wrote in 2009 that was one of the last about this amazing castle, because really, La Ronda was like a castle.

La Ronda, the grand Gothic castle that presided over a Bryn Mawr neighborhood for eight decades, is all but gone.

Five minutes after a township demolition permit allowed work to start yesterday morning, the long arm of a yellow excavator took the first bite of the mansion’s facade, sending shards of glass, wood, and stucco crashing to the ground.

The machine’s metal jaws chewed through walls and pieces of the Spanish-style roof. By day’s end, three-quarters of the building was rubble. All that was left of the 51-room house were the three-story tower and a piece of a library.

The demolition contractor said it would be weeks before all remnants of the building were removed. “As you can see, it moves fast,” said Keith Brubacher, who owns Brubacher Excavating Inc.

The building’s fate attracted the attention of preservationists and others who fought the planned demolition of the house designed by Addison Mizner at 1030 Mount Pleasant Rd.

Throughout the day, a stream of onlookers drove or walked by La Ronda – including Gladwyne Elementary School children who shouted “Save La Ronda” out the window of their yellow bus. At dusk, vehicles slowed as occupants snapped photos….The mansion was purchased in March for $6 million by Joseph and Sharon Kestenbaum of Penn Valley behind a pair of corporate identities. Plans were filed with the township to tear it down and replace it with a new house.

Ross Mitchell, vice president of the Lower Merion Township Historical Society, said yesterday he was shocked that a deal could not be struck to save the mansion. “He could have built his house anywhere,” Mitchell said.

Kestenbaum’s spokesman, Jeff Jubelirer, responded, “Mr. Mitchell could have purchased the home or the property and done whatever he wanted. He had from March till Sept. 18 to make an offer and raise the money.

“He didn’t execute, so Mr. Kestenbaum decided to do what he wanted to do in building his family’s home.”… The mechanical excavator, moving on treads like those of a bulldozer, used the rubble to build a platform from which to attack the next wall or roof.

Several times the operator punctured the mansion’s supports with a metal I-beam taken from the house, prompting preservationist Lori Salganicoff to comment: “Do you see what they’re doing?

“They’re using a piece of the building to destroy itself. This is surreal.”

~ bonnie cook philadelphia inquirer october 2, 2009

Remember the La Rondas of this world. And a house doesn’t have to be so grand to be worth saving. And we need state elected officials who give a damn about things like this. I was thinking about that yesterday as the Muppet from Radnor, former Radnor Commissioner Lisa Borowski posed for photos in Harrisburg with her bangs having returned (always a thing when she was a Radnor commissioner – you couldn’t see her face, just her bangs like she was a Muppet) in the PA House Chamber when she located her seat. So now that these folks are elected, will they do things that matter like update the Municipalities Planning Code to save communities from excessive development and get better and meaningful historic preservation and land preservation in place?

Time will tell.

La Ronda as Rubble. Photo by me October 2009

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