Group hopes to restore historic Lynnewood Hall back to age-old grandeur

An Elkins Park mansion with a grand history is now in line for a rebirth.

Sitting on 35 acres in Elkins Park, Lynnewood Hall is a 110-room relic of the Gilded Age. A mansion where the wealthy, Widner Family displayed the work of the world’s greatest painters in five galleries. While the mansion, built in 1900, still holds its impressive size and architecture, most of the structure has fallen into disrepair.

Edward Thome has admired the structure since he was a child. Now, as the executive director of the Lynnewood Hall Preservation Foundation, he’ll play a big part in bringing it back to life.

"When you compare it to other Guilded Age mansions of the time they flop you in the head with their gilded opulence this house is very refined," said Thome, who added that the art was what drew people to the mansion.

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Historic Lynnewood Hall sits on 35-acres and was completed in 1900.

The refinement replaced by chipping paint and falling plaster, Lynnewood Hall is in line for a rebirth. With more than $9M raised from donors, the Lynnewood Hall Preservation Foundation has bought the property and hopes to raise and spend $100 million to bring it back to its lost grandeur. 

This project is vast," said Angie Van Scyoc the Chief Operation Officer of Lynnewood Hall. "We have the opportunity to bring people in, all are welcomed, to be part of something bigger than themselves."

To walk the wide halls of Lynnewood and enter its smoking and reception room, laced with gold, is to imagine the 123-year-old hall bustling with the activity and concerns of the day. The idea is to invite the public to the property, first by opening the grounds, and later to repairing and reopening the mansion, so visitors may learn of its architecture and history. But not before asbestos is remediated in the basement and the leaky roof is sealed. 

The challenge is great, but so is the reward of seeing the region’s past come back to life. Tyler Schumacher, the facilities site manager, said, "if we were to lose a building like this you would never be able to rebuild it again. The history of the Widner family, the art collection here is just unmatched."