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Springfield Township Historical Society Whitemarsh Hall collection


Held at: Springfield Township Historical Society (Montgomery County, Pa.) [Contact Us]1432 Bethlehem Pike, Flourtown, PA , 19031

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Springfield Township Historical Society (Montgomery County, Pa.). Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

"In 1916, Edward and Eva Stotesbury commissioned [Horace] Trumbauer to design one of his most famous projects: Whitemarsh. Whitemarsh Hall was set on a hill outside Philadelphia in Springfield, Pennsylvania. Stotesbury was a senior partner at the Drexel & Company banking house, an associate of J. P. Morgan, and one of the wealthiest men in America. He met Trumbauer in 1909 when the architect designed an addition for the Union League at Fifteenth and Sansom Streets.

"After the Stotesburys married in 1912, Eva, who quickly became Philadelphia's leading socialite, twice commissioned Trumbauer to renovate their townhouse at 1923 Walnut Street near Rittenhouse Square. Following the renovations at their townhouse, Eva oversaw the construction of Brooklands, a grand Trumbauer house in Eccleston, Maryland, for her daughter Louise and son-in-law Walter B. Brooks Jr. By the time Trumbauer completed Brooklands in 1915, the Stotesburys had outgrown their townhouse near Rittenhouse Square.

"The Stotesburys asked Trumbauer to design Whitemarsh Hall to replace their inadequate townhouse. Over the next five years, the architect, his staff, and contractors erected an enormous U-shaped, Georgian style mansion set in Jacques Greber's sweeping informal English and formal French gardens. During the construction, Trumbauer, who was rarely photographed, posed at the building site with Edward and Eva Stotesbury and Oliver Cromwell Jr., Eva's son from a previous marriage. With 50-foot limestone columns at the main entrance, the palatial mansion comprised 147 rooms totaling 100,000 square feet of space. The ballroom alone was 64 feet in length. The grand residence, with three stories above ground and three below, required a staff of 70 butlers, maids, cooks, valets, chauffeurs, and gardeners.

"The many elegant rooms were embellished by the best decorators from Paris and the plumbing fixtures were plated in gold. Although contemporary observers as well as historians have disputed Whitemarsh Hall's total cost, it certainly topped $3 million dollars, an incredible amount in 1921. When automobile manufacturer Henry Ford, himself a wealthy man, visited, he proclaimed "it was a great experience to see how the rich live." But, as changes to Trumbauer's practice demonstrate, the rich had already begun to live differently by the 1920s. Although Trumbauer would continue to design great buildings until his death in 1938, he would no longer plan the sprawling country estates and elegant seaside palaces that had made him famous before World War I. Whitemarsh Hall marked not only the apex but also the end of the Gilded Age. Too expensive to maintain, Whitemarsh Hall was eventually abandoned."

After the Stotesburys left Whitemarsh Hall, it was used during World War II to store treasures from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in case New York should come under enemy fire. In 1943 it was sold to Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Company ("Pennsalt," later "Pennwalt Corp."), who converted the old mansion into a research and development center. When Pennsalt moved its laboratories in 1961, the building was abandoned. In 1980, it was demolished to make way for suburban redevelopment.


Free Library of Philadelphia. "Residential Designs by the Horace Trumbauer Architectural Firm: Whitemarsh." Accessed July 5, 2012.

This collection is comprised of materials relating to Whitemarsh Hall assembled by the Springfield Township Historical Society. The bulk of the collection is made up of materials donated by Marie Kitto, arranged into binders by subject. (Most of the binders have been inventoried.) The binders contain Kitto's notes and correspondence (circa 1977-1992), newspaper clippings, copies of scholarly articles, original and reproduction photographs, Stotesbury Christmas cards, auction catalogs, and research on the history of Whitemarsh Hall, the Stotesbury family, Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Company, and the Stotesburys' other homes. Kitto's materials include original photographs from the Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Company era and reproduction photos of the Stotesbury family.

The collection also includes newspapers and magazines with articles pertaining to Whitemarsh Hall and the Stotesbury family; copy and original blueprints of the Hall; albums of copy and original photographs compiled by the Springfield Township Free Library; three photo albums, created for Oliver Eaton Cromwell, mostly of Whitemarsh Hall interiors with some exteriors and shots of El Mirasol (Stotesbury house in Palm Beach, Florida), circa 1921-1930.

Of special interest in the collection are four photograph albums of the construction of Whitemarsh Hall (1916-1919). There is also a 1929 scrapbook from a Pennsylvania State College landscape architecture student's tour of notable gardens in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and nearby, with photographs, narrative descriptions, and a few pamphlets, featuring a section on Whitemarsh Hall.

Most of the collection was donated by Marie Kitto, 2005-2008. It has been added to over time.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2011-2012 as part of a pilot project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Springfield Township Historical Society directly for more information.

Springfield Township Historical Society (Montgomery County, Pa.)
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Michael Gubicza through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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