Elkins Park

This affluent community in Cheltenham Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania although predominantly Jewish is the home to many other ethnic groups including Irish and Korean.

Elkins Park was named after William L. Elkins. He moved to the area during the high noon of the area’s estate period. Few architects, who built his home, captured the cream of the trade as successfully as Horace Trumbauer. http://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/pab/app/ar_display.cfm/21596

What Trumbauer did with enough millions at his back can still be glimpsed from Ashbourne Road, a few blocks west of Old York Road.There he built homes for William L. Elkins, namesake of the Elkins Park station, and P.A.B. Widener.

Elkins and Widener had many business interests. Eventually, they would play decisive roles in the development of the Old York Road corridor when their streetcars provided cheap, fast transportation for the masses.

The 20th century, with the Depression, income taxes and changing tastes, doomed the big estates, but a few examples remain. Today, the Elkins mansion on Ashbourne Road is preserved as a retreat house for the Dominican order. http://www.elkinsparkretreats.org/ourhouse/ourhouseframes.htm

Just down the road, the Widener estate – Lynnewood Hall – has not been as lucky. Boasting 110 rooms, Lynnewood was built by Trumbauer in French classical style in 1898. The estate once totaled more than 300 acres, with formal gardens, fountains and statuary.Now down to 36 unkempt acres, Lynnewood Hall was home to a failed theological seminary but has been essentially vacant for a decade.

Attempts to sell its fittings have been stopped. But Bryant Havir, assistant Cheltenham Township manager, says that the owner, a doctor in New York, has revealed no plans for the building.

Elkins Park also houses the Cheltenham Township Building in what was once the home of Henry W. Breyer, Jr.

Home of Henry W. Breyer, Jr

Across Old York Road is the world famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s http://www.delmars.com/wright/flw8-16.htm equally well known Beth Sholom Synagogue. http://www.delmars.com/wright/flw8-16.htm

The Cheltenham Township Building at 8230 Old York Road is 1.6 miles (2.57 kilometers) from the La Mott Community Center.

Back to top