May 20, 2011
By Philip S. Rosenzweig Over the past 30 years, the Lower Merion "preservation community" repeatedly and utterly failed to protect the alleged treasure known as La Ronda in spite of multiple opportunities to do so. The Bryn Mawr residence, which was demolished in 2009, was available as a foreclosure property in the early 1980s; was for sale by Villanova University later on; and was also on the market prior to its purchase by Joseph Kestenbaum, the...
September 30, 2009 |
Lower Merion Township's top official is making a last-ditch effort to save La Ronda, the historic Bryn Mawr mansion that could be demolished as soon as tomorrow. With less than 36 hours to go before the 80-year-old Gothic castle could legally come down, Bruce Reed, president of the township board of commissioners, said last night he was trying to broker talks that could spare it. Reed said he had contacted Benjamin Wohl, the Florida developer who had proposed to buy the mansion on Mount Pleasant Road and move it out of harm's way. He said Wohl agreed yesterday to keep talking - possibly through an intermediary.
August 6, 2009 |
Amid the uproar surrounding the proposed demolition of La Ronda, the renowned architect Addison Mizner's astonishing Bryn Mawr house, the owners have maintained that it's perfectly legitimate to destroy a house and replace it with another. It might be legitimate if the house, built for the Foerderer family in 1928, were of no architectural worth - if it were a tract house or even a derelict mansion. But the house is a genuine artistic masterpiece, designed by a man whose place in the pantheon of American architects is secure.
May 7, 2011 |
Back in the fall of 2009, when the first demolition crane crunched into La Ronda's roofline, the buzz among neighbors and preservationists was that the public would forget the Bryn Mawr mansion once it was gone. It would forget the Gothic-style castle's lofty turrets, its stained-glass windows, and the Great Hall where Main Line socialites once mingled. And the public would embrace whatever dream house Joseph D. Kestenbaum, an investment manager, created in its place on the property at 945 Roscommon Rd. More than a year later, the buzz has proved wrong.
August 13, 2009 |
The owner of Bryn Mawr's immense La Ronda mansion still plans to spend $300,000 to raze the historic Spanish-style villa, but a preservation-minded Floridian has arrived with a counteroffer: paying for the privilege of hauling the house away. "I'm saving them money," Benjamin Wohl, 41, said yesterday. He wants to buy the imperiled La Ronda and move it to an adjoining lot to be his second home. Wohl lives in a Palm Beach house designed by Addison Mizner, the famed architect of the Bryn Mawr mansion.
October 1, 2009 |
Suzanne Atterbury remembers sending her playmates into La Ronda's hedgerow maze - "They would come out crying. " Dominic Conicelli remembers his father's being summoned at all hours to chauffeur the widow Foerderer - "his Madame," Dom's mother said - in a black Cadillac. And everyone who lived or worked there remembers Christmas at La Ronda. Cooking smells wafted down the corridors from a cast-iron stove as big as a buffalo. A hundred radiators clanked with the startup strain of heating the Bryn Mawr mansion's many rooms.
September 16, 2009 |
In his first public comment since being identified as the buyer of Bryn Mawr's historic La Ronda mansion, Joseph D. Kestenbaum yesterday fired back at the "disingenuous" outcry and "public circus" over his plans to raze the castle-like villa. "The fact is that there is no one interested in providing the finances necessary to preserve La Ronda," Kestenbaum said in a statement issued by a public-relations firm, which acknowledges he is behind the corporations that purchased the house.
August 28, 2009 |
Two preservationist groups plan to rally at 4 p.m. Monday in front of La Ronda, the Spanish Gothic mansion in Bryn Mawr that could fall next week to the wrecker's ball. J. Randall Cotton, spokesman for the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, said the purpose of the rally "is to publicly ask the owner that he do the responsible thing for the good of the community. " The alliance is being joined by Friends of La Ronda, a group that formed recently around the issue of saving the castle-like building at 1030 Mount Pleasant Rd. that is slated for demolition Tuesday.
May 23, 2009 |
In its 80 years, the La Ronda mansion in Bryn Mawr has gone from being a millionaire's palatial home to the subject of an intense debate over its planned demolition by new owners. It also has spawned a mystery: Who, exactly, owns the place? Someone paid $6 million in cash to buy the estate in March, using a corporate front. Then, through an attorney, the buyer applied for permission to raze the castlelike, 21-bedroom villa. With Lower Merion Township nearing a deadline on whether to allow the demolition, neighbors, preservationists, and officials have made the question of its owner an open-ended game of speculation.
August 14, 2009 |
Yes, it can be done. It is possible to move a house as big and sprawling as La Ronda, the historic mansion in Bryn Mawr slated for imminent demolition. The technology and the knowhow exist, professional house movers said yesterday. And in this instance at least, incredible as it may seem, size doesn't matter. "It would be possible to move a house of that magnitude," said Mark Buckingham of Wolfe House & Building Movers, which is based in Bernville, Berks County, and which moves from 130 to 180 houses a year.