The Philadelphia Main Line Real Estate Agency
12 St. Albans Circle, Newtown Square, PA 19073
Office 610.325.4100 :: Direct 610.642.4607 :: Fax 610.642.1715 :: Cell 610.506.0802
A proven track record of exceeding buyer expectations!
We specialize in Villanova home buying, financing and relocation. Villanova is located on the Philadelphia Main Line.
Click here to enter our real estate site or see Villanova's history below.
|Villanova, at the
southwestern comer of Lower Merion Township, takes its name from Villanova University,
established as Villanova College in 1843. The university, the small surrounding business
community, and the railroad station are in Delaware County.
Old Gulph Road, which bisects Villanova and Rosemont, has been used for east-west traffic through Lower Merion since it was an Indian trail. Its milestones, reputed to have been set in place by William Penn, bore a design on their backs similar to his coat of arms.
Farmers conveyed their produce or drove their herds through the gulph to the Philadelphia markets along Old Gulph and New Gulph roads (New Gulph opened in 1728), while its north-south counterpart, Spring Mill Road, dating from 1771, was the route to the ferry across the Schuylkill. The Green Tree Hotel, the most important of the four inns and restaurants that existed along Spring Mill Road, has stood since revolutionary days at the intersection. It was rebuilt after a fire in 1856. Farmers who worked in nearby fields remember quenching their thirst at its bar, or with a bottle of "sody." It was rebuilt again in 1892, and a later owner had the inn turned ninety degrees when it was made a private dwelling. Its blacksmith and wheelwright shops below on Old Gulph Road are now also attractive private homes.
Diagonally across Spring Mill and Old Gulph roads is an eighteen-acre estate owned by the late William Goldman (1888-1974), head of a multimillion-dollar chain of movie companies. Equally well-known as a philanthropist, he made many contributions to the promotion of better education for children. He served for fourteen years on the Philadelphia Board of Education and is credited with having made WHYY (Channel 12) an educational TV station.
Farther north on Spring Mill Road the Mount Pleasant School was built in 1830 on a small lot bought for fifty-five dollars at the northeast corner of Spring Mill and Mount Pleasant roads (the latter road opened in 1736). A large one-room stone building that replaced the old school after it had been destroyed by fire was used until 1916.
Moro Phillips, a wealthy chemical manufacturer and real estate investor from Poland, and his sons amassed by 1890 the eight hundred acres of Stoke Poges, which included several farms and old farmhouses west of Spring Mill Road. The Stoke Poges house and Pear Grove were among these, as well as Diehl House, now called Appleford, which has a 1728 datestone although tradition dates the earliest portion from 1705. After a variety of additions the architect, Richard Brognard Okie, redesigned the house and gardens for modern living in 1926. In 1973 Mrs. Louis H. Parsons bequeathed it to Lower Merion Township. With its valuable early furnishings, greenhouses, and beautiful landscaping, it is to be preserved as the "Parsons-Banks Arboretum," and is now available to the community for meetings, receptions, and garden parties.
For more than two centuries 594 acres east of Spring Mill Road have made up the Harriton property lying between Old Gulph Road and Morris Avenue. The original 1704 house, once owned by the famous patriot Charles Thomson and sold out of the Family, has been restored and is open to the public. The Villanova portion of the property has been occupied and was still owned in 1980 by Thomson's heirs, James and William Maier.
After the railroad improved, many executives working in Philadelphia built country seats of imposing dimensions for the summer months. The produce from their farms could be maintained in root cellars for long periods, so that apples, carrots, potatoes, and squash were shipped to the city along with fresh eggs and milk on the Paoli Local, to be met at appointed times at the Philadelphia end.
Soon winterized homes replaced the farms. Builders and developers took advantage of the breakup of the large holdings to make profitable subdivisions. Some land was restricted to estates with several acres, while other areas have R-l zoning, requiring three-fourths of an acre per house as well as other limitations. Now owners of smaller, as well as luxurious, homes possess swimming pools and often tennis courts. Houses in 1980 sold for $100,000 to $300,000.
The Northeastern Christian Junior College at 1860 Montgomery Avenue uses a private home as its central building. Clairemont Farm, with 250 acres, belonged to Joseph E. Gillingham. On March 3, 1892, the first cattle tuberculin test in the country was given to the herd belonging to Dr. Gillingham. Morris L. Clothier, head of the Strawbridge and Clothier firm, owned the farm from 1922 to 1947. Now on a 24-acre tract, the Clothier home was purchased by members of the Churches of Christ in 1957 for the purpose of integrating Christian principles with higher education.
Calvary Cemetery occupies one hundred acres in the northwest part of the township at Old Gulph and Matson's Ford roads.
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