Loch Aerie, 1963. Photo courtesy of George W. Pyle, Jr.
I always wanted to see more into Loch Aerie when inhabited by the Lockwoods. My friend author Thom Nickels was someone who as a boy got to interview the aged Lockwood sisters and has told me stories of kids trying to sneak through the then woods around Loch Aerie (now Home Depot). In his book Philadelphia Mansions: Stories and Characters Behind the Walls, Thom brings the Lockwood family and the era in which they lived to light.
One thing Thom speaks of on page 177-178 of his book was a painting which apparently now hangs in the Valley Forge Memorial Chapel called Washington after the Battle of Trenton by Christian Schussele.
And guess what? Thanks to my new friend Mr. Pyle, I can see how the painting hung in Loch Aerie!
Loch Aerie, 1963. Photo courtesy of George W. Pyle, Jr. – Large painting is Washington after the Battle of Trenton by Christian Schussele.
My friend Thom in his book , speaks of Miss Edith Lockwood and I think I would have liked her. In Philadelphia Mansions: Stories and Characters Behind the Walls he has a photograph of Edith with her dogs on the back porch. She had terriers, and they look to have been Scotties. She was also a gardener, and Miss Edith was an integral part of the Church Farm School’s floriculture program and had quite a hand in the running of the greenhouses, “and a large peony field from which 60,000 to 70,000 flowers were cut and sold annually.”
Now the gardener in me of course wonders if Church Farm School has any of Miss Edith’s peonies left?
Loch Aerie, 1963. Photo courtesy of George W. Pyle, Jr.
According to Thom Nickels’ research the things in the house were auctioned off. Makes you wonder where everything ended up.
It is so cool to have access to these photos. It is so interesting to see what it was like inside when lived in!
Loch Aerie, 1963. Photo courtesy of George W. Pyle, Jr.
In a matter of minutes, less than half an hour, Loch Aerie had a new owner. CZ Patel of New Jersey. I was standing there when he said in a soft spoken voice that he was interested in converting Loch Aerie to a hotel.
That is welcome news to all who were worried about her facing a wrecking ball.
New Loch Aerie owner CZ Patel speaks with reporters after winning auction
The room was packed with residents, bidders, reporters, and even folks from other historic commission members from other Chester County municipalities. I am not sure if anyone from East Whiteland Historical Commission were present, although one member was quoted in Kristin Holme’ follow up article.
Here is the link to Kristin’s Inquire article and my byline courtesy of VISTA.Today. I was really honored the VISTA.Today editor reached out to me. I have poured my heart and soul into covering Loch Aerie the past few years.
I look forward to when I can cover Loch Aerie in her next life as a hotel.
If you have this Little Golden Book – A Child’s Garden of Verses illustrated by Eloise Wilken then you have an illustration of Loch Aerie from the rear that was done originally around 1957! The book is still in print today and you can buy it on Amazon for your children or grandchildren.
That is the cool thing about this old mansion which had its last open house before the April 21 auction today – the more I write about it the more people contact me to tell me about things where the mansion is pictured or featured in.
I can find almost nothing about the Lockwood family but I keep discovering things about the mansion.
Loch Aerie apparently has inspired artists, photographers, and illustrators since she was built.
Praying for a conservation/preservation minded buyer. This old gal deserves more then a haphazard developer who won’t care. There is enough of that going around these days already.
Loch Aerie at the most recent auction preview last week.
This morning Loch Aerie a/k/a Lockwood Mansion a/k/a Glen Loch is front and center with attention where she deserves to be thanks to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Kristin Holmes wrote a beautiful article and I can’t thank her enough for the time she has spent over the past few months with my friends and I. We pitched her the story of Chester County’s LaRonda starting months ago, and the nature and cycle of news being what it was, only recently did the hard work on the article begin. Kristin told me the mansion’s story would be told again. She is a woman of her word!
Thank you Kristin.
East Whiteland’s Historic Commission ended up featured somewhat prominently in the article with a somewhat dramatic statement from it’s chair:
Loch Aerie will be razed over “my dead body,” vowed Timothy Caban, chairman of the East Whiteland Township Historical Commission
Hope he means it. Oh and he is welcome for the attention that Loch Aerie has been getting in the hopes of attracting a preservation buyer.
A small correction to the article is the misperception that Linden Hall also in East Whiteland is actually saved. It’s not. The developer said they would save it if they could build the cheap looking stick frame townhouses going up around her at Routes 30 and 352, but nothing has been done restoration-wise that is noticeable to residents thus far, isn’t that true? If some restoration has actually begin, it would be nice if East Whiteland’s Historic Commisison would share the details, wouldn’t it?
And yes I drove past Linden Hall twice yesterday. (I will stop harping about Linden Hall when I actually see some restoration and preservation occurring. Until then she is just looking like demolition by neglect.)
There is nothing substantive in East Whiteland Township to save historic structures. That needs to change. What also needs to change is East Whiteland’s historical commission needs to join the modern era and cease operating like a secret society. It should not take a reporter to get a statement out of them. They should be publicly posting agendas and meeting minutes and preservation initiatives and they do not.
Thank you to everyone who cares about Loch Aerie because #thisplacematters . And that includes the auction company. They have been so gracious and I think even they want the old gal preserved.
It will take a village and then some to save Loch Aerie. Holding my breath until it happens.
Thank you again Kristin Holmes for caring and writing a terrific article. Thank you Philadelphia Inquirer for the amazing, amazing placement!
Here is an excerpt of the article and please take the time to read the entire piece and look at the amazing photos he Inquirer took:
Before the Sheraton moved in across the road, before Home Depot set up shop next door, Loch Aerie was the bewitching summer estate of a gentleman farmer who amassed a great fortune manufacturing paper shirt collars…..Loch Aerie’s admirers worry for its future.
“What tends to happen with sites like these is that because they are outside the city, they are viewed as only locally significant, when that’s not true,” said Aaron Wunsch, an assistant professor of historic preservation at the University of Pennsylvania. “This house is regionally significant, and we are losing the interesting big suburban houses of that period.”
La Ronda, a Bryn Mawr mansion by renowned resort architect Addison Mizner, was razed in 2009….The two-acre property is owned by the family of Daniel Tabas, who bought it in 1967. With his brother, Charles, Tabas amassed a business and real estate empire that included Mickey Rooney’s Tabas Hotel in Downingtown, Twelve Caesars banquet hall on City Avenue, and the Riverfront Restaurant & Dinner Theater in Philadelphia. He died in 2003.
The family attempted to auction off Loch Aerie several years ago, and turned down an offer of more than $600,000, said Bob Dann, the auction house’s chief operating officer. This time the family will accept the minimum bid, he said…Chester County historian Eugene DiOrio contends that Loch Aerie would easily qualify for the National Register of Historic Places
You have survived so much Loch Aerie. Finger crossed for your future.
I know, I must be pretty boring since I am stuck on this old mansion. But I can’t help it. i love Loch Aerie. Or Glen Loch. Or Lockwood Mansion depending on what you know her as.
I went through today with a writer I know and a writer and historian. We explored Loch Aerie again, listening to tales people had to tell. There were people there today who had been in the house over the years.
Among the first people I spoke with was a gentleman whose brother was the motorcycle gang member who was shot on the front porch. Apparently the brother had rented Loch Aerie along with a woman described as a “Campbell Soup Heiress”. The woman’s last name wasn’t Dorrance, however. And no, I can’t remember what her name was. IN fact I found out she wasn’t an heiress per se but her father was an Executive VP of Campbell Soup.
I saw the marks in the floor today a motorcycle had left.
Then there was the very much older lady who counted all the little steps up to the top of the cupola. I spent some time up in the cupola today myself. The views are amazing.
There were people who had lived or grown up near by, people who were just curious and a lot of people interested in the property looking Loch Aerie over. Truthfully the house was packed the entire time.
I smiled quite a few times because I overheard people saying they had come to see Loch Aerie because they had seen it on this blog.
April 21st is the auction. I hope the right buyer finds her in time. This really is a truly remarkable piece of American Architecture. Today I noticed details I did not notice last week.
And for all of those people who say “but it is next to the Home Depot” when you are inside, you forget. Everything else just melts away and there you are in this spectacular mansion of a bygone era. And I was pleased to learn from a volunteer from the Chester County Historical Society that there are a bunch of photos at the Historical Society of Loch Aerie when the Lockwood Family lived there. I am thinking a field trip might be in order.
The photos except the black and white at the bottom which I took are all old ones taken for that August 1958 study. Only I never saw the photos until someone suggested I check the Library of Congress listing for the mansion. These photos are available to the public courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Even the folks at The Library of Congress thinks this Chester County symbol and gem are special. See??? #thisplacematters
And finishing with one of my favorite photos that I have personally taken of Loch Aerie:
The auction people are very nice and gracious, but you do have to stop at their registration table and fill out a form so they know who is in the house. It’s no big deal, but it is an old house. Wear sturdy shoes or good sneakers, this is an old house with many rooms and floors and stairs.
La Ronda was an amazing example of Addison Mizner’s work and was at that time (2009) one of the last remaining examples if not the last example in this area. His mansions used to dot the East Coast up through New York State if I remember correctly. And in the end with La Ronda even the seller and owner were at odds over salvage rights.
La Ronda was an amazing property. I was lucky to be able to photograph her from outside her gates before she fell. I was there like like dozens of others on demolition day. I took photos as tears ran down my face at the sheer waste of something so amazing. Even local commissioner were there and crying. It was awful . It was a house that was beloved by her former community, just like Loch Aerie is today. And just as symbolic and recognizable which is why people sometimes call Loch Aerie Chester County’s La Ronda.
The clock is ticking but not all is lost. Loch Aerie just needs a preservation buyer and not a developer who is land greedy who will buy her for the 6 acres in total she comes with and let her rot as opposed as to just lie fallow with a caretaker in residence.
Loch Aerie has stood there on her hill and watched Chester County change. This mansion has survived Home Depot being built, turnpike and other highway expansions, motorcycle gangs and general ignorance.
Addison Hutton is one of the finest architects that ever worked or lived in Philadelphia. Loch Aerie is fanciful and lyrical in her Swiss Gothic style. Her original gardens were designed by Charles P. Miller, the landscape architect who designed Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. The gardens are all but gone and the difference between this spring and some other springs I have seen Loch Aerie go through seems to be that some of the last remaining foundation plantings are but memories.
I will note that East Whiteland Historical Commission has a meeting tomorrow evening – 4/6/2016 from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm. Supposedly they will be discussing Loch Aerie although no agenda is posted as per usual. they also never seem to post any meeting minutes. So I can’t tell you what they are doing but they certainly have not gotten out in front of this. Or if they have it’s a secret they keep from everyone.
We can’t save every old house, barn, mansion, structure but we should save some, right? The crime here is just like with the Old Conestoga Inn in Tredyffrin, the Strawbridge House next to the boat place on 30 in Malvern, or Linden Hall on Route 30 in Malvern at the base of 352 and countless other structures all over, there is nothing legally keeping any of them from being torn down. The drawback to living in Pennsylvania, which is a heavy private property rights state (which of course given the eminent domain for private gain all over the state for decades is somewhat contrary in and of itself.)
But the thing is this: Pennsylvania needs more meaningful historic preservation. And there need to be more financial incentives available to preservation buyers. Other states in this country have them.
Communities around Pennsylvania desperately need balance and even protections from development. What defined a suburb and exurb in the past may no longer fit and how does historic preservation in communities fit in? The truth is historic preservation is more of a nice option in Pennsylvania rather than the occasional requirement.
Sorry, don’t mean to put you to sleep, but I feel quite passionately about preserving our open spaces and history.
Loch Aerie is a symbol to us. A symbol of the rich history and past, homage to a time gone by, an example of legendary architecture which has withstood the test of time and is still so beautiful. And Loch Aerie could be a private home again, or an adaptive reuse. It would be a fabulous boutique hotel and there is a need. I could see a small hotel with a chic restaurant on the first floor.
Even artists have been captivated by Loch Aerie over time. In a garage sale group I bought a print done by Chester County artist named Christopher Schultz. Schultz used to present the land and wildlife of the Brandywine Valley in his watercolors and prints of his watercolors. What I got was Loch Aerie. Apparently the print was popular 15 to 20 years ago. I have never seen anything else by this artist, and I bought this print because it was of Loch Aerie. Not terribly valuable but pretty and spoke to me because of the subject matter.
Loch Aerie speaks to me as she does to so many of you. She needs a preservation buyer. She deserves to be saved. But someone has to want to and be able to afford to do it. Here is hoping and praying that somewhere preservation buyers are thinking about this. It would be criminal for Pennsylvania to lose this treasure.
I went all the way up to the top of the house to the cupola and the widow’s walk, and down to the somewhat creepy root cellar. It is truly an amazing house and considering all the abuse it is taken over the past few decades, it is in remarkably decent shape.
I took hundreds of photos and also talked to people going through. Some were local people who read this blog and had seen me discuss the mansion, also a lot of regular people who like myself just always wanted to see the inside, and quite a few people that actually seemed interested in preserving the mansion. There were also developers and developer representatives and lots and lots of contractors.
I met a woman from far away with a big family that includes a lot of adopted children and grandchildren who is looking for a place to call home.
I also met a guy who grew up near the mansion and told me stories of when he and his siblings were little. He told me how they saw the bikers drive up to the house when they were squatting in the mansion in the 1970s I think it was. He also said that the bikers would ride their motorcycles up the front steps and up the staircase. And that kind of makes sense because there are marks and some of the floors upstairs that look like tires. He also told me of when the bikers had left and the kids in East Whiteland used to use the pool tables and pinball machines that were on the first floor.
Another lady wrote to me and said:
As a young boy my father, now deceased, worked making sandwiches at the Lockwood Mansion. Two elderly sisters employed my father. One of their relatives, Leaugeay, helped my father make sandwiches which were taken to the train station nearby for the soldiers. As the years gone by, my father married and named my sister, Leaugeay as a namesake of a family who helped dad. Growing up on Morstein as a young girl our large clan passed by the mansion many a Sunday on our visits to other family members. Really hate seeing another landmark in Chester County being replaced by commercial buildings. WHAT is going to be left for OUR GRANDCHILDREN to visualize HISTORICAL LANDMARKS……..What a shame that opportunity and money pass over our History.
I was amazed at how few people actually knew any of the history of the house they were just drawn to it. It really is a landmark. And an emotional pull back to the area for others.
Someone from East Whiteland Historical Commission was there. A woman whose name escapes me. I don’t think she was particularly thrilled to meet her friendly neighborhood Chester County blogger, and I’m sorry for that but I am not sorry for my opinions necessarily. She said they were meeting next week, but to what end? Do they have a preservation buyer with deep pockets to bid on Loch Aerie come April 21st? When I asked her about Linden Hall, she assured me it would be preserved but that old porches not historically authentic would be torn off. I told her Linden Hall already looked like demolition by neglect, but she assured me I am wrong so we shall see. I hope I am wrong.
If this beloved mansion Loch Aerie can find the right buyer future generations will be talking about her in years to come.
Here is an article from 2010 about Addison Hutton:
What a perfect fit for a historic architect: designing the building for the Historical Society of Pennsylvania at 1300 Locust St. in Philadelphia in 1902.
Known by many as the Quaker architect, Addison Hutton was a popular and prolific professional who designed palaces on the Main Line and in surrounding communities, and grand college buildings on campuses including Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore colleges and Lehigh University, as well as adding his talents to the designs of courthouses, museums, libraries and religious institutions.
Many of his most famous Main Line mansions have served double purposes. The Waverly Heights home of a railroad executive is now an upscale retirement community in Gladwyne. Ballytore in Wynnewood first served as a home to the co-founder of the Strawbridge & Clothier department store, then lived its second life as the home of a private school and is now in its third life as an Armenian church.
Hutton also used his talents for designing religious sites. In 1872 he designed the rectory for the Church of the Redeemer on Pennswood Road in Bryn Mawr. The original portion of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood was built in 1871 with Hutton and fellow architect Samuel Sloan designing the building where the preparatory college and theology divisions were joined in September 1871….
The Main Line Times article is quite long and well worth reading in it’s entirety.
Addison Hutton is a favorite architect of mine and his work can also be seen in Bryn Mawr on Shipley’s campus – the landmark mansion known as Beechwood. I know that Addison Hutton mansions can be saved and repurposed as adaptive reuses because I was on the Committee to Save Beechwood. And while Shipley basks in all the glory of this successful old house rescue, it was a committee independent from the school who save it, not the school. The headmaster (who is still there today) wanted to tear Beechwood down for a parking lot or a pool (I forget which.) Here is an article from when it began (the renovation was complete around 2002):
That’s the word from the Shipley School, which recently relented on its controversial plan to demolish a 19th-century building on its campus after a prolonged battle with local historic preservationists.
Yesterday, the school welcomed several architectural firms into the aging Beechwood House and asked them to pitch their best ideas for how to renovate its rooms for school use.
However, the school did not ask the architects to pitch their bills for the work to Shipley’s accountants. Someone else will be paying for the renovations.
As agreed in negotiations with the school, a group of Shipley alumni, preservationists and others who want to save the building have the job of raising the necessary money – possibly as much as $1 million – by Jan. 1, 2001. If they fail, Shipley reserves the right to tear Beechwood down.
But if the group can leap that hurdle, school officials are ready to make good use of the old building.
Frens and Frens were the Philadelphia architecture firm which did the restoration of Beechwood. They won numerous awards as a result. Another Addison Hutton home, also in Bryn Mawr on the corner of Montgomery Avenue and Bryn Mawr Avenue is another more recent and successful adaptive reuse. It was restored and converted to a handful of luxury condominiums.
The estate was formerly a Welsh tract of 500 acres, and the title deeds say it vas held on a lease from W. Penn to Peter Young and from Peter Young to Hugh Roberts , of
whom President George 3. Roberts of the Penna. PR, is a lineal descendant. The tract has been subdivided and has been in the possession of General Persifor Frazer
of the Revolution and also of the family of ?. Frazer Smith. The purchase of the estate was made by Elon Dunbar, Mr. W. 2. Lockwood’s step-father, from estate of
William Harmer, in I8U9, and Mr. Lockwood from Mr. Dunbar in April 1863. When Mr. Dunbar purchased there was 113 acres. Mr. Lockwood has been making purchases
adjoining the original tract at different times and from 136 acres it has increased to 680 acres.
And it had quite the famous landscape architect:
Loch Aerie was designed by architect Addison Hutton in
1865 for William E. Lockwood, who made his fortune manufacturing
paper collars and folding boxes, and lost much of it promoting local railroads. The house remains with few changes. The fine landscape was designed by landscape architect Charles P. Miller.
Mr. Lockwood began to pay some attention to live stock in i868,when he purchased tventy five head of Ayrshires, but about that time he was elected president of the Union Paper
Collar Co. and had to reside in Sew York for ten years. He was thus forced to relinguish the raising of stock, but he secured the services of competent farmers who
attended to what stock he required for domestic purposes. Mr. Lockwood intends to divide his tract into three small farms, consisting of the property south of the
Penna RR and will include twelve acres of woodland,, which will be kept to preserve thewater supply. Pour hundred acres north of the Penna RR will be retained as the
homestead farms of two hundred acres each. On the western most tract is St. Pauls Episcopal Church erected in 1828 by the Rev. Dr. Levi Bull and which was improved in
1874 at an expense of $8000. A fine parsonage will be erected during the coming summer.
And these last excerpts:
2. “Daily Local News,” West Chester, Pennsylvania, October 19, 1877
Wm. E. Lockwood, of Glenlock, has a telephone in his house also one in the P.R.R. tower so that in case of invasion of his domicile by burglars or tramps he can call the P.R.R. hands to his assistance. The Railroad Company also keep a police car on the siding there to lock up all loafers and tramps found in the vicinity. Mr. Lockwood also has a very complete “burglar. alarm»”which connects with every door and window in his house, and borrows his neighbors “bull dogs” for outside alarm at night. Also he has a formidable array of repeating revolving and breech-loading pistols and rifles and we understand he thinks of adding a gattling gun and jackass howitzer, and yet he retires to his little bed very uneasy as to his safety during the night.
We should think the tramp would give his place a wide berth in their travels but through his influence they are gobbled up at the rate of a dozen per night in and
3. “Daily Local News,” West Chester, Pennsylvania, May 1, 1936
One of the most interesting houses in the Chester Valley is that of the late William E. Lockwood, at Glen Loch. It was built in the year 1865, with its towers and bull’s-eye windows. William A. Stephenson, late of West Bernard street, West Chester, was the boss stone mason, and the walls were well built. The architect was Addison Hutton, who, five years later, designed the first building for what is now State Teachers College. Mr. Hutton, as the story goes, was on his way to Glen Loch in response to a summons from Mr. Lockwood to consult with him in regard to the plans, when he was told that Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, had been shot.
All the people were so shocked and horrified that there was no talk about house plans that day, and the dwelling was not erected until some months later. One of the art
treasures in the home today is a painting of George Washington on horseback – a handsome piece of work which once was loaned to the late John Wanamaker, long ago, to be exhibited in his Market street window.
People, we need to save the grande dame. #ThisPlaceMatters and she needs a preservation/adaptive reuse buyer. Not just some developer who wants the other 4 acre parcel that goes with the house and the 2 acres it sits on. Loch Aerie has so much potential still. I can totally see a boutique hotel with a marvelous little restaurant on the first floor.
I am so sad. East Whiteland always seems to want to seek it’s own identity as a community but here we go again – one of the other most iconic structures, Loch Aerie is seriously at risk. Do you really think anyone preservation minded will step up in the 11th hour? It is a nice thought but folks like the ones saving the iconic Farmers and Mechanic Building in West Chester are few and far between.
East Whiteland, are you ever going to wake the heck up and save part of the history that surrounds us? Is everything supposed to become a strip mall or housing development or office park?
The ordinance is ONLY a start. A 5 year period of no building permit as part of enforcement would be better than one year. One year is a “blink” in development. You are absolutely right- a monetary fine is useless. The supervisors need to recognize the urgency of this ordinance or it will be too little too late as usual. Thanks for staying on this story!
But what good is staying on a story no one seems to be paying attention to? I hear the new supervisors are all into affordable housing but the joke of it is none of the approved, planned, being built, and yet to be built living units are truly affordable housing are they? People are snide and say East Whiteland’s idea of affordable housing are trailer parks, but other that the William Henry Apartments and the trailer parks, what is actually something that even falls into the category of affordable housing that is being proposed?
HOW ABOUT SOME ACTUAL HISTORIC PRESERVATION?
Never mind. Everything has a high price tag and none of it seems to include conservation buying or active historic preservation.
If there is a preservation minded buyer out there interested in Loch Aerie, carpe diem….Sadly I just do not think such a buyer exists. And here is the page for the East Whiteland Historic Commission:
That screen shot was taken a few minutes ago. What do you see? NADA. Nothing. Zilch.
I really hope someone will step in and save Loch Aerie. Realistically (again) I just don’t see it happening. But cheer up, someone will build some more “carriage homes” or “luxury singles” somewhere.