This year’s History in Motion has concluded. For photographs of the event, please visit our facebook page.
America’s Gilded Age was well represented in Springfield Township, with splendid manors built on manicured acres, design by leading architects of the day, and lived in by prominent Philadelphia families. In some cases these homes or their scattered remnants still exist to remind us of their splendor, with names such as Belcroft, Harston Hall, Guildford, and Whitemarsh Hall leading the roll call. But another such estate that straddles Springfield and Cheltenham Townships, which will cease to exist by the end of this year, is Laverock Hill.
In the latter half of the 19th century this estate consisted of a modest house on 23 acres of farmland owned by James Brooke. In 1892 he would sell it to John Clarke Sims, Jr. who would add additional acreage to the estate over time. Sims, the secretary of the Pennsylvania Reading Railroad Company, subsequently commissioned the architectural firm of Cope & Stewardson to build him a suitable country residence looking out over the Whitemarsh Valley. This Jacobean style residence, originally named Falcon Hill, was host to many high society events hosted by the Sims. When John Sims died prematurely at the aged of 55, the property was put up for sale, and rented until a buyer could be found. During this time an heiress by the name of Miss Julia Garrett passed away and left the bulk of her estate to her stock broker, Isaac Tatnall Starr. He purchased Falcon Hill in 1915, and hired renowned architect Charles Platt to remodel and enlarge the main house, which he then renamed Laverock Hill. Starr would have Platt design new outbuildings and greenhouses, as well remodel the stable and barn. Platt would also collaborate with landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman to create a formal garden next to the main house, replete with reflecting pool and pergola housing a bronze statue of Pan by New York sculptor Henry Herring. Starr and his wife, who would purchase adjacent acreage to enlarge the estate, raised three of their children at Laverock Hill. Their daughter Hope, her husband Morris Lloyd and their family were the last residents of the mansion. This Gilded Age country home is today owned by a developer and slated for demolition and redevelopment as a housing community in 2019.
Your storytellers for the evening will be Ed Zwicker III and Ed Zwicker IV, who have presented historical talks for STHS in the past, including most recently one on Whitemarsh Hall at the Ambler Theater in 2017. They will recount stories of Falcon Hill/Laverock Hill, including its early beginnings, growth through the years, and the events and people surrounding it at different points in its history.
Doors Open at 7pm with a complimentary Wine Tasting by our Sponsor Chaddsford Winery followed by Presenation at 7:30 pm.
$250 Level Sponsors
$100 Level Sponsors
You may obtain the official registration and financial information of the Springfield Township Historical Society from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll-free within Pennsylvania 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.