Charles Ludington stemmed from Old Lyme, Connecticut, and was a graduate of Yale Law School. He married Ethel Saltus in 1895 and they lived in Manhattan where Charles practiced law. In 1901, he took the position of secretary and treasurer of the Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia and the Ludingtons moved to the Main Line.
Mill Creek Valley. A ten acre hilly tract with a mansion, carriage house, artist’s studio and spring house on Old Gulph Road in Gladwyne (formerly Ardmore) was purchased in 1905. Their estate, named Clovelly, was cherished, remodeled and newly built on for over 50 years. The 19th- and 20th century architectural history of the property represents a microscopic tale of the aesthetics, social life and development of the Main Line from the founding fathers to the present.
Furness and Evans. The first house built on this hillside east of John Roberts’ residence and grain mill on Mill Creek was one for the prominent dentist, Dr. Henry C. Register, designed by Furness and Evans. After fire destroyed most of the building in 1897, Edgar V. Seeler, architect for the Curtis Publishing Company, rebuilt the house in a Colonial Revival mode. The estate was newly named Clovelly after an English town.
When the Ludington’s took possession of Clovelly in 1905, Charles became actively involved in Philadelphia educational institutions and academies, served as treasurer for the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church and was a member of many social clubs.
As was the tradition of the day, Ethel served her family, home and social causes. Her strong leadership, enthusiasm and a zest for life won her many friends. An extensive formal garden adjoining a squash court became her pride and joy.
During 1913-14 the estate was remodeled by another local architect, Horace Well Sellers. The west porch wing was extensively expanded, adding new charm for both family and visitors. The joy of the remodeled home was dampened by the diagnosis that Ethel was suffering from tuberculosis. Despite her illness, the family maintained an active travel schedule both in America and Europe. Sanitarium stays in the west and Saranac Lake did little to curb Ethel’s disease; on September 7, 1922, she died after a valiant battle at the age of 51. No one was more devastated than her husband, her most devoted follower.
Memorial To Ethel. Thanks to his wealth, Charles Ludington was able to turn his wife’s untimely death into a philanthropic cause to memorialize her life. A small book told of her community efforts, spirit and intelligence. A new infirmary was built for the Saranac Lake sanatorium. Funds went to the Ardmore Library, and $50,000 built the new Ludington Library in Bryn Mawr. Ethel Saltus Ludington’s name became prominently attached to the built environment.
The Ludington estate’s architecture and open space remains reminiscent of the dedication of a former Main Line family to the community.
J. Howard Pew’s
Knollbrook, a 13 acre estate owned by J. Howard Pew during his lifetime, sits high on a hill at Grays Lane and Mill Creek Road. It was built on land owned by John Roberts, the miller. In 1845, Samuel Croft, who also operated mills, purchased 35 acres to be used for farming. In 1883, he sold his acreage to his friend and attorney, I. Layton Register. Register built Lynhurst, designed by noted Philadelphia architect, Frank Furness, in 1890.
Giving about 5-1/2 acres to each of his children, Register built Knollbrook for his son, Albert Layton Register. Completed by 1908, the home was one of the a few country houses built of brick and was unusual in having the regularity of Georgian design. Philadelphia architect, Lindley Johnson, planned the early Knollbrook.
Records indicate that J. Howard Pew rented the house before buying the 8.29 acre estate from Register’s three sons in 1917. The Pews soon brought in another architect, William Woodburn Potter, who planned the additions.
At first Knollbrook was a relatively small, block shaped colonial with typical center-hall design. In the following half century it was more than doubled in length and so embellished that it is now one of the outstanding Georgian homes on the Main Line.
When Mr. Pew bought Knollbrook, the land was mainly open fields which had been pastureland for Register’s sheep. Some of the old sheep pens, stables and farm houses were still to be seen on the property into the 1970s.
J. Howard Pew was immensely interested in his property. He transformed the grounds into three immaculate terraces which drop with the hillside, complete with putting green and swimming pool. Courtyards were created with a fountain, as were paths, springs with little bridges, a rock garden, and a greenhouse.
At the time of Pew’s death in 1971, the estate contained 65 acres. Much of these holdings have been subdivided. Three other Register houses, Lynhurst, Gray Grange and Dove Lake Farm, are still in existance. The present owners of Knollbrook have renamed the estate, Camelot.