Hidden behind ornate turn-of-the-century wrought iron gates and stone walls since its construction 115 years ago, The Elkins Estate is now open to the public for the first time in its storied history.
Built as a summer retreat for William L. Elkins, railway magnate and titan of industry and philanthropy, The Elkins Estate boasts two of only a few remaining examples of Gilded Age architecture in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, a quiet suburb that once provided a popular refuge for the wealthiest and most prominent Philadelphia businessmen and their families.
The Elkins Estate was designed and built by renowned architect Horace Trumbauer, whose resume includes such notable monuments as the Free Library of Philadelphia, 30th Street Station, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and this private, 42-acre property boasts a magnificent 64,000 square foot Italian Renaissance-style palace and an elegant 31,000 square foot Elizabethan Tudor mansion nestled among rolling lawns, sculpted gardens and water features.
In 1932, the Elkins family sold The Elkins Estate to the Order of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine de Ricci, who preserved and maintained the property behind closed doors and a tree-lined perimeter while operating it as a religious retreat house for women for 75 years until financial pressures forced them to sell.
Land Conservancy of Elkins Park Inc. rescued the historic Elkins Estate from demolition and development in February 2009 and has been focused on preservation and conservation issues while adapting the property for reuse as a health and wellness retreat as well as a wedding, corporate event, and special occasion venue.
With the gates finally open, the Conservancy hopes to share and continue its mission of historic and open space preservation, energy conservation, health and wellness education, and environmentally and socially responsible business practices while offering the public a glimpse into the history of the Elkins Park area and affording everyone the opportunity to become part of this project through volunteerism and donations.