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Whitemarsh Hall:: The Estate of Edward T. Stotesbury [Paperback]

Charles G. Zwicker , Edward C. Zwicker , Springfield Township Historical Society
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Nov. 1 2004 Images of America (Arcadia Publishing)
Whitemarsh Hall, known as "the Versailles of America," was one of the largest and most exquisite estates in North America. Edward Townsend Stotesbury, one of the wealthiest Philadelphians in the early twentieth century, commissioned renowned architect Horace Trumbauer to build the one-hundred-forty-sevenroom mansion in 1916 on three hundred acres just outside Philadelphia. Whitemarsh Hall, which took five years to build at an estimated cost of $10 million with all the furnishings, was a wedding present for his second wife.

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The man who would one day be known as "The Little King" was a Philadelphia boy who became one of the richest men in the country. Read the first page
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the rise & fall of America's Versailles June 30 2007
Format:Paperback
Whitemarsh Hall, built outside Philadelphia in 1916-21 at a cost of $10 million, was a wedding gift from the wealthy septuagenarian Edward Stotesbury to his second wife.
Relying almost entirely on numerous archival photos, this modest volume documents the rise and fall of the magnificent house which, together with its extensive gardens, was once known as the Versailles of America,

Several phases of the construction are shown including the planting of an avenue of mature trees.(The elderly Stotesbury could not afford to wait for small trees to grow up). As for the finished interiors, one yearns for a massive coffee-table book. Alas, the smallish black and white photos of the lavishly decorated principal rooms can give only an impression of their grandeur during the house's heyday in the 1930's, but are a sufficient and tragic record of its decline as later decades of neglect, vandalism and decay preceded the wreckers' ball.

Although there is only one page of text, the authors cleverly manage to convey many delicious tidbits of trivia about house and family by means of the voluminous captions accompanying each photo. For instance: that Douglas MacArthur was briefly Stotesbury's son-in-law and a luxurious suite was reserved for the General's visits; that Mrs Stotesbury's son Jimmy was married to the heiress of the Dodge fortune and later to tobacco heiress Doris Duke. That the elder Stotesbury, ever conscious that the huddled masses might be aroused to rebellion by the sight of so much luxury in their midst, installed four machine guns on the roof to ward them off.

In spite of their reputation for frequent and lavish entertaining - 600 guests to a party were not unusual - the Stotesburys did not encourage visitors to stay over.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gilded Age Splendor Aug. 30 2005
By Shannon Deason - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a very interesting book on one of the grandest estates ever to grace the American landscape. The period photos alone are worth the price of the book, but the story of the house and its disgusting demise are facinating. This truly was one of the greatest of the Gilded Age estates, ranking with San Simeon, Biltmore and Lynnewood Hall, the latter we hope does not meet the same fate as Whitemarsh. I highly recommend this book to anyone with any interest in great residental architecture or just quite frankly a sence of history. If you have an interest in Whitemarsh itself I would suggest also purchasing American Splendor, this book focuses on Horace Traumbaur, the architect of this great house and many others, including Lynnewood Hall.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read! Sept. 30 2005
By Just Dude - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is excellent. It starts out with the people involved and leads up to the creation and demise of the greatest house I've ever seen. Yes, I was fortunate enough to grow up in the area of this exquisite palace. Unfortunately, I did not walk the halls of Whitemarsh in its heyday, but even in its dilapidated state, it was an awesome sight to see, beyond that which words can describe. The book is a good read and well worth the selling price. What happened to this house is nothing short of a crime.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the rise & fall of an American Versailles June 30 2007
By Shemogue - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Whitemarsh Hall, built outside Philadelphia in 1916-21 at a cost of $10 million, was a wedding gift from the wealthy septuagenarian Edward Stotesbury to his second wife.
Relying almost entirely on numerous archival photos, this modest volume documents the rise and fall of the magnificent house which, together with its extensive gardens, was once known as the Versailles of America.

Several phases of the construction are shown including the planting of an avenue of mature trees.(The elderly Stotesbury could not afford to wait for small trees to grow up). As for the finished interiors, one yearns for a massive coffee-table book. Alas, the smallish black and white photos of the lavishly decorated principal rooms can give only an impression of their grandeur during the house's heyday in the 1930's, but are a sufficient and tragic record of its decline as later decades of neglect, vandalism and decay preceded the wreckers' ball.

Although there is only one page of text, the authors cleverly manage to convey many delicious tidbits of trivia about house and family by means of the voluminous captions accompanying each photo. For instance: that Douglas MacArthur was briefly Stotesbury's son-in-law and a luxurious suite was reserved for the General's visits; that Mrs Stotesbury's son Jimmy was married to the heiress of the Dodge fortune and later to tobacco heiress Doris Duke. The elder Stotesbury, ever conscious that the huddled masses might be aroused to rebellion by the sight of so much luxury in their midst, installed four machine guns on the roof to ward them off.

In spite of their reputation for frequent and lavish entertaining - 600 guests to a party were not unusual - the Stotesburys did not encourage visitors to stay over. There were only 7 guest bedroom suites in the 147-room house and on the morning of the third day of his visit, a houseguest's breakfast tray would contain a note offering to assist his arrangements for departure. (One presumes General MacArthur was exempt from this rule). The great humorist Will Rogers was not asked back after a flippant remark upon the quality of the champagne, nor was another female guest who likened the coloured lights set up for a garden party to Coney Island (though the lights were taken down).

I enjoyed the book and appreciate its value as a historic record, but I had expected a lengthier written history of the Whitemarsh Estate and its owners, and was, therefore, a little disappointed to find it is essentially a picture book. Nevertheless, the book is entertaining, informative & certainly a boon to those who believe a picture is worth a thousand words.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whitemarsh Halls Rise and fall Feb. 8 2007
By T. W. Reichert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I found this book to be a great look into the Rise and Demise of one the countries finest estate homes. It sad that such beautiful piece of work could be abandoned, vandalized, and eventually razed. It's even sadder that no one back then could find a way to save this noteworthy structure. I found this book to be a well done pictorial essay on the subject. The floor plans, maps and extensive photos provided insight into the estate and its history. I appreciate authors time in producing this book. They should come up to Long Island... we have many estates that could benefit from their history being told. The book is well worth the money.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Could have been better April 15 2009
By Craig Tiano - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Having seen the building in person, I can say that the book captures the grandeur of the estate. I would have liked to have seen more pictures of the interior, but, as a private home, they probably do not exist. I think the author could have done more in the construction and design sections, where extensive resources ARE available. As the book is presented, it's little more than pretty pictures with a few words wrapped around to explain the progression from the most extravagent home in the US when constructed to the pile of rubble it became in the 1980's.
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