Gladwyne, Lower Merion’s first town, evolved at the intersection of the roads now called Youngsford and Righters Mill. It is still a quiet, walkable country village, until 1890 known as Merion Square. Mill Creek flows through Gladwyne; most of the many mills have vanished or are in ruins. By 1880, the village had 35 houses, a few stores, and 207 inhabitants. Area residents depended on a stage that operated from Gladwyne to Ardmore, or on the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad which had a station, Rose Glen, near the banks of the Schuylkill River. The Merion Square Hotel (now the Old Guard House Inn) was built on land that was once part of a 250-acre tract of Welshman Richard Walter. It was built in three stages, the earliest dates from about 1810-1817, completely surrounded by farm land. Although there is no evidence that the building was in existence earlier, there is a legend that during the Revolution colonial troops stopped there to quench their thirst.
The hotel’s next proprietor was Thomas Haley, Johnson’s son-in-law, who ran the establishment for some years.
The Merion Square settlement, in early years, became known as War Office because John Rawlins, a captain of a volunteer rifle company, recruited soldiers there for the War of 1812. Years before, John Young, a prominent landowner, was appointed by the Pennsylvania War Office to confiscate flour and other supplies in the area during the Revolution. Later, as the hamlet grew, a new owner, David N. Egbert, changed the village name to the less bellicose Merion Square. Egbert’s store later became Cornman’s, then a hardware store. Gladwyne is a contrived name and was probably first used by the Reading Railroad for its stop at Mill Creek to avoid confusion with other Merions in the township.
—Written by Smith Hamill Horne & Dick Jones
Henry Harley “Hap” Arnold
“Hap” Arnold (1886-1950) was born on a farm in Gladwyne in 1886. His parents were Mennonites, stern authority figures, who imbued their children with “hard work, no play.” A serious child, “Hap” had a permanent grin…hence, “Hap.” Shortly after the boy was born, his family moved to Ardmore. Dr. Arnold sold the family home to the Barkers.
Educated locally, he participated in sports and graduated from Lower Merion High School in 1903.
When brother Tom refused his father’s edict to attend West Point, “Hap” took the order and found life delightfully liberating there and gained a major reputation as a prankster.
Since his high school days, “Hap” was interested in the experimental flights of the Wright Brothers. His ambition was to be in the cavalry, but he was assigned to the infantry. There were several mapping assignments in the Phillipines. On one trip he was billeted next to George Marshall, which proved important to both men during World War II.
Deciding that flying was the way out of the infantry, “Hap” enrolled in an exciting new flight training program offered by the Army Signal Corps. The instructors: Wilbur and Orville Wright! In 1912, he was almost killed in a dangerous tail spin which so shattered his nerves that he did not fly again for four years. Major Billy Mitchell, the aviation visionary, encouraged “Hap” back into flying.
When home on a leave, his sister introduced him to a local girl, Eleanor (Bea) Pool. He shyly pursued her, as did dozens of other Ardmore boys. Bea and “Hap” wed on September 10, 1912.
When the United States joined the war in 1917, “Hap,” to his chagrin, was assigned to Washington, D.C. Though unhappy at not being on combat duty, he made great contacts, learned about mobilization…all of which served him well later in his celebrated career.
By 1938, he was Chief of the Air Corps and struggled to bring that branch into the first rank. He lobbied for increased aircraft production, more air bases and improved pilot training. After the U.S. entered the war in 1941, “Hap’s” vision led to victories in Europe (he insisted on daylight bombings to hit German supply depots) and Japan (initiating fire storms across that country). He foresaw the future of rockets in conflicts and worked with the scientific community and industry in their early explorations.
Victory took its toll…three heart attacks. “Hap” retired in 1946, wrote three books, (including his 1949 autobiography, Global Mission) and visited Lower Merion in 1947. He died a few years later. One of only nine men ever to achieve 5-star rank, “Hap” was a hero here…and a hero to his nation.
—Written by Dick Jones
Seymour DeWitt Ludlum
Seymour DeWitt Ludlum stumbled across the almost deserted village of Rose Glen on a horseback ride from his home in Merion. The setting was perfect for a sanitarium for the mentally ill that the young psychiatrist planned to found. Most of the industry that had thrived along Mill Creek a half century before was gone, but the buildings were intact. It was isolated, calm and beautiful, an ideal location. Dr. Ludlum bought the buildings that had been a little hamlet: the post office and store, the Merion Mills across the stream and nearby houses.
Over the years they were turned into hospital wards, laboratories, doctors’ offices and living quarters. Called The Gladwyne Colony, to the passerby it seemed to be a “little village out of yesterday.”
Dr. Ludlum died at 80. His son, S. DeWitt Ludlum, Jr., who had assisted for many years, became the director of the Colony and ran it for another decade. By this time the newly built Schuylkill Expressway made all of Gladwyne accessible, the land values higher and brought more people to live there.
Ensuing changes in medical standards, increased fees and public attitude made the Colony increasingly difficult to run. It was sold and only Ludlum’s house, Fernside, remains.
The Pew Family
The Pew family, an extraordinary clan (mainly based in Lower Merion) made important early contributions to American industry. Their plans eventually made an influential impact on a local, national and worldwide scale. Their founding of the Sun Oil Company led to a sensational business success which, in turn, was able to support the family’s beliefs in contributing to the community’s needs. That goal funded The Pew Charitable Trusts, which continues the family’s commitment to support nonprofit organizations working in the areas of culture, education, the environment, health and human services, public policy and religion.
Joseph Newton Pew (1848-1912)
Raised on a farm in western Pennsylvania, he was the youngest of ten children. When Pew was 11, America’s first oil well gushed forth in Titusville, not far from his home. In the 1870s he went forth to seek his fortune in real estate and insurance.
After his marriage to Mary Catherine Anderson, he applied hard work and enterprise to develop the Keystone Gas Company, which used the byproducts of oil (natural gas) to provide local heat and light.
In the late 1880s, the growth of the enterprise led to the founding of the Sun Oil Company. During this period, J.N. Pew and his wife began to raise a family and to pass along those values that they believed were essential to leading a productive and faithful life.
In 1902, Pew entered into a partnership to build a refinery along the Delaware River (an 82 acre site at Marcus Hook). The first oceanborne crude oil was shipped there that year.
By this time, J.N. Pew was the father of five. In 1908, he moved his family to Glenmede, the former Graham estate on Old Gulph Road and Morris Roads in Bryn Mawr. At his death in 1912, Joseph’s second son, John Howard Pew, age 30, became president of Sun Oil Company.
J. Howard Pew (1882-1971)
Under J. Howard’s regime, the Sun Oil volume was estimated to have multiplied forty times. His earliest contributions were scientific. During his regime, he expanded the company into shipbuilding and was proud of Sun Oil’s contribution during two world wars. He was known throughout the organization for his personal interest in his thousands of employees and often made the rounds to check in with workers on all levels.
His 67-acre estate, Knollbrook on Grays Lane, was a short distance from his brother Joe’s place. Unlike Joe, J. Howard led a plain life, disliked entertaining and enjoyed long walks around his estate. During World War II, he ignored his cars and chauffeurs and took the train to work each day. Deeply religious, he participated in the affairs of the Presbyterian Church on local and national levels. J. Howard Pew died just short of his 90th birthday.
Joseph N. Pew, Jr. (1886-1963)
Joe Junior, a Cornell graduate, was the more worldly, outgoing brother. As vice-president of Sun Oil, he was a visionary in both science and commerce…the company’s “idea man.” He devised a pipe line from Marcus Hook to the Great Lakes; he innovated the custom blending of gasolines; he introduced “Blue Sunoco.”
At the end of World War II, Sun Oil was one of the few American industries owned and managed by the founding family after five decades. He continued a lifelong commitment to the concept of free competition in the marketplace.
Like his brother, J. Howard, he shared the social responsibility of support for the Presbyterian Church and was a liberal donor to the national Republican Party. He died at 77.
Mary Ethel Pew (1884-1979)
Mary Ethel Pew graduated with honors from Bryn Mawr College. Her mother‘s death in 1935 led to a determination to devote her personal life and inheritance to the support of cancer research.
Mary Ethel made her home at the family’s estate, Glenmede. Her interest in health care prompted her to volunteer at a small hospital run by Lutheran sisters, called Lankenau, which has become an important medical institution in the area.
Ms. Pew, in 1953, gave Skylands, her 26-acre estate in Gladwyne, to the Philadelphia Motherhouse of Deaconesses. Upon her death at the venerable age of 95, her ancestral home, Glenmede, was willed to Bryn Mawr College as its Graduate Center.
Mabel Pew Myrin (1889-1972)
The youngest of J.N.’s children, Mabel devoted her life to “issues of survival,” the improvement of the educational process and the problems of caring for and educating the handicapped.
Like her brothers and sister, she was deeply involved in the support of health service institiutions. Scheie Eye Institute and Presbyterian-University of Pennsylvania Medical Center were two institutions that benefitted from her dedication. She was also a longtime benefactor of Saunders House, a care facility for the elderly in Wynnewood.
Alberta Hensel Pew
Joe Jr.’s wife, Alberta, is a fascinating character in the family tree. Though she embodied many of the principles of a priviledged life, she ignored the trappings of advantage in order to pursue her individual course. An avid sportswoman (especially devoted to salmon and trout fishing) she participated in golf, tennis, swimming, sailing, horseback riding and shooting. She was a champion markswoman…a student of Annie Oakley!
Her interest in gardening and the natural world was exceptional. That led to her advocacy for the preservation of open spaces and buildings of historic importance. Part of her land on Dodds Lane in Gladwyne was deeded to the Natural Lands Trust.
Aside from her personal enthusiasms, she led an energetic life of civic and community service. Mrs. Pew died in 1988 at the age of 96. Her obituary reported that two weeks before her death she snagged seven fish at her Pocono Mountain retreat.