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NEWS
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...
NEWS
September 30, 2009 | By Bonnie L. Cook INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
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.
NEWS
August 6, 2009 | By Caroline Seebohm
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.
NEWS
May 7, 2011 | By Bonnie L. Cook, Inquirer Staff Writer
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.
NEWS
October 1, 2009 | By Bonnie L. Cook INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
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.
NEWS
August 13, 2009 | By Derrick Nunnally and Inga Saffron, Inquirer Staff Writers
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.
NEWS
September 16, 2009 | By Derrick Nunnally INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
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.
NEWS
August 28, 2009 | By Bonnie L. Cook INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
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.
NEWS
May 23, 2009 | By Derrick Nunnally, Inquirer Staff Writer
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.
NEWS
August 14, 2009 | By Art Carey and Inga Saffron INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
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.
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NEWS
April 11, 2016 | By Kristin E. Holmes, Staff Writer
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 and then lost it. William Lockwood's 1868 Swiss-Gothic manor, a 6,522-square-foot marvel of peaked roofs, arched windows, and Addams Family charm, is now a misfit in the madding suburban landscape. At 1 p.m. April 21, the East Whiteland Township property, on a narrow hillock along Route 30 near Route 202, goes to auction.
NEWS
January 1, 2013 | By Miriam Hill, Inquirer Staff Writer
Even by the standards of eBay, where you can buy a shark embryo or lunch at Disneyland with former supermodel Kathy Ireland, the West Philadelphia property is an oddity. It's a former Baptist orphanage now owned by the Church of Bible Understanding, a group parodied on Seinfeld that is selling the six acres and 10 rundown buildings it once called home. All this can be yours for $4.5 million, according to an ad for the property on the online auction site. Did we mention the swimming pool?
NEWS
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...
NEWS
May 7, 2011 | By Bonnie L. Cook, Inquirer Staff Writer
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.
NEWS
December 31, 2009 | By Derrick Nunnally INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Joseph D. Kestenbaum, who tore down the 80-year-old castle-like La Ronda mansion, is building a $5 million stone-veneer, three-story house with an indoor hockey rink to replace it. Gone for good are the towering turrets, stained glass, and "great hall" room constructed in Bryn Mawr by leather-tanning magnate Percival Foerderer 80 years ago. In their place, according to plans filed with Lower Merion Township, will be the basement rink, a solarium,...
NEWS
October 3, 2009 | By Bonnie L. Cook INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Workers using heavy equipment picked metal beams from the rubble of La Ronda yesterday in Bryn Mawr, but final demolition of the mansion's Gothic towers appeared to be delayed until early next week. Keith Brubacher, president and owner of Brubacher Excavating Inc., the demolition firm on the job, said there was no special reason the three-story towers and part of the former library weren't razed yesterday. They were the only elements still standing at the site on Mount Pleasant Road near Roscommon Road.
NEWS
October 2, 2009 | By Bonnie L. Cook INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
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.
NEWS
October 1, 2009 | By Bonnie L. Cook INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
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.
NEWS
September 30, 2009 | By Bonnie L. Cook INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
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.
NEWS
September 17, 2009 | By Derrick Nunnally INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Is this the beginning of the end of La Ronda? In a historic-preservation debate so intense that both the mansion's owner and the man who sold it months ago hired public-relations experts, one of the dispute's key players signaled yesterday that he believed the historic house was doomed. After holding off for weeks, former La Ronda owner Arthur J. Kania sent in an architectural-salvage crew yesterday morning to haul away the remaining pieces of the 80-year-old house that are worth auctioning off or donating.
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