Three Township Treasures
Lower Merion owns and maintains three beautiful old buildings that span a period from the early 1700s to the late 1800s. Appleford, Ashbridge House and the Bryn Mawr Community Building are used for offices of various nonprofit groups in the Township and are available to rent for meetings, community events, and social occasions.
A beautiful 22-acre Villanova estate, Appleford (named for the surrounding apple orchards) started as a simple, one and-a-half story stone farmhouse, built in 1728. A two story section was added in 1780. In 1798 the next owner, prosperous Peter Pechin, increased the building further and located his tannery in a separate outbuilding.
In 1867, Moro Phillips, a Philadelphian in the chemical and fertilizer business, bought the property for $15,375. The family soon amassed over 800 acres in Villanova. This 113-acre estate was inherited by the son, Frederick Phillips, and then the ownership passed to Samuel G. Smyth in the early 1900s.
Subsequent owners, Anabel and Lewis Parsons, contracted an important colonial revival architect, R. Brognard Okie, to integrate and expand the estate in 1926-27. Earlier stone work was replicated; wood siding and partially stuccoed stone facade is characteristic of Okie’s “colonial” style.
In the 1930s an important landscape architect, Thomas Sears, worked with the Parsons to design the gardens and recapture the formal setting seen today. Upon Mrs. Parson’s death in 1973, she passed Appleford to Lower Merion Township as a perpetual trust.