The First 300


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 Merion Square Hotel in an 1896 photo. The inn’s owner, Jesse Johnson, is standing to the right of the corner post with his family.
Johnson in later years.
The charming Old Guard House has enjoyed a fine reputation as a gourmet restaurant for over 20 years.
Old Guard House Inn, front view.

The hotel’s next proprietor was Thomas Haley, Johnson’s son-in-law, who ran the establishment for some years.

Haley is to the right of the post with Merrill Haggerty, who is handling the horse and buggy. The hand pump may be seen today on the Youngsford Road side near the entrance.
Haley’s son, Roy and the boy’s pet goat. The inn was encircled by farms with cows, horses and domestic fowl.

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.

The commercial building and residence (1913 photo) opposite the Guard House was built in 1798 (date stone at east end of building) by Henry Hemboldt. The next owner, in 1802, was Harmon Yerkes who added a store.
The east end was once known as the War Office, the Saturday night center in the 19th century for discussions by mill workers. David Egbert, also a storekeeper, bought the property in 1822 and the family ran it for 60 years. It also served as the village post office from 1850-1898.
Isaac Cornman was the next owner (1915 photo) and it remained in the family for over 50 years.
After that, it was a hardware store owned by Conrad Barker. The building photographed in 1980.
John Breen’s General Store in 1895, once known as Davis’ in the heart of the village. The building, after more than a century, looks the same except for the absence of a porch. It houses the Delaware Market, a gourmet grocery catering to the carriage trade.
Once nicknamed Tammany Hall because of meetings of Democrats at the butcher shop, this small house next to the Gladwyne Free Library had also been a grocery store and tea room. It is now an attractive private home.

Henry Harley “Hap” Arnold

1945 formal photo; five stars. Note Military Aviator Badge on his pocket… only about a dozen were ever awarded. Arnold’s grandson, Robert, recalls: “He never wore all the medals he had…they would have gone from his shoulder on down!” “Hap” is regarded as the father of the United States Air Force.

“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.

“Hap,” on right, with his sister Betty and brother Tom, photo c. 1888-89.
“Hap,” standing second from left, with some of his Lower Merion High classmates.
Training with the Wright Brothers, 1912.
“Hap’s” wedding to Bea Pool in Ardmore on September 10, 1913.
Arnold’s birthplace, on the corner of Youngsford and Conshocken State Roads in Gladwyne, c. 1902 photo. It now serves as the rectory of St. John Vianney Catholic Church.

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.

Normandy, June 1944, Arnold briefs generals: Ike, King, and Marshall.
On General Arnold’s last trip to the area in May 1947, he visited students at Ardmore Junior High.

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.

The Gladwyne Methodist Church (1913 photo), originally the Merion Square Methodist Episcopal Church, on Righters Mill Road, dates from 1838 when it was organized. The first part, now the Sunday School, was built in 1840, rebuilt in 1865-66 and improved between 1943-1950. An addition was completed in 1961.
Next door is the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (1912 photo), constructed in 1852. Its cemetery, behind the building, blends into the cemetery of the Methodist Church and contains the graves of many of Merion Square’s (Gladwyne) first residents.
After the Civil War, the small clapboard building was erected to be both the post office and home of the wounded veteran, William Snell, who became the postmaster of Merion Square, the only post office in Lower Merion. During those years it was used for storage for the hardware store next door; then a barber shop. Now the Gladwyne Lunch, a popular place for breakfast and midday meals, it is one of the few restaurants in the township where outdoor eating is permitted.
The solid stone building built in 1921 by All Saints Episcopal Church, was the Gladwyne Community Hall with a basketball court, a stage and, at one time, was the post office. One room was for Maud Bell’s books that evolved into the Gladwyne Free Library by 1930. The modern addition and glassed exterior stairwell were added in the 1960s and the building was completely renovated in1992. The Community Room is the setting for meetings ranging from the Civic Association, Story Hour for youngsters, and the Library League’s annual Craft Show. The library is the “Heart of the Village.”
A walk through the Gladwyne (Merion Square) Historic District, established in 1980, reveals an amazing variety of residences: converted mill workers’ houses; simple homes with Victorian, Stick Style and Gothic Revival embellishments; cottages and double houses from the 1920s; small, elegant estates.
The charming home was likely a section of a state pavilion removed from Fairmount Park at the end of the Philadelphia Centennial.
Stores have a smalltown look and pride themselves on their friendly service. In two short blocks one finds: a gas station; two banks; a big supermarket and several small groceries; drug store; dry cleaner; florist; veterinarian; real estate agencies; and other specialty businesses.

Two Mills

Merion Mills, located on the northeast corner of Rose Glen Road where it meets Mill Creek. It was built in 1836 by Chadwick’s father for the manufacture of cotton goods. The building became part of the Gladwyne Colony c. 1910. It was demolished in 1968.
Robert Chadwick, c. 1880, proprietor of Merion Mills.
A small double house for mill workers at Egbert’s Mill, c. 1900, shown in the distance.
The same mill workers’ house as it appears today, greatly modified with a large northern wing added. The original front doors facing the street have been made into windows, a porch added on the east to shield the new front door, above which two of the upper windows were sealed.
Egbert’s Mill, now a private residence as it is today, basically unchanged except for a garage addition to the north joined to the house by a second story ramp. Little is known of Egbert’s Mill, noted as a lampwick factory on old maps. The two houses, the most eastwardly on Rose Glen Road, became part of Dr. Ludlum’s Gladwyne Colony. The water wheel (not shown) at the tenant house was a 1980s addition to generate electricity.

Seymour DeWitt Ludlum

The Gladwyne Colony

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.”

Young DeWitt, seated in front with his Great Dane, his mother, Beta Hoerle Ludlum and his maternal grandparents. They all lived at Fernside.
Dr. Ludlum in later years, on the porch.
Formerly a post office during the time of Chadwick’s Mill. The Inn was The Gladwyne Colony’s main office on Mill Creek Road at the foot of Rose Glen.
Dr. Ludlum’s house, Fernside, in a early photo, the only Colony building that survived. It has recently undergone a sensational rehab.
The original stone facade fronts a very modern wing.
The Gladwyne Colony in winter: the former Chadwick Mill at left and the administration building and offices at right. When able, patients were encouraged to work on the grounds, plant gardens, care for the many animals at the Colony and also participate in therapeutic crafts
Gladwyne Colony therapeutic crafts room.

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.

Clement A. Griscom, president of International Navigation Company, lived in Haverford at his estate, Dolobran. He invested in Soapstone Farm, a 130 acre quarry in Gladwyne, (1919 photo) off Monk Road. Soapstone and sandstone pits had been there near the river since Lenape times. The Indians used soapstone for jewelry and tradition claims that the steps at Independence Hall came from that quarry.
Dam on Mill Creek Road that pumped water to the Clement Griscom home, later to John T. Dorrance’s hilltop estate. The dam was demolished in a 1953 flood.
House and store along River Road in Gladwyne, date of photo unknown.
The house of a tenant farmer and his family.

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)

J. Howard Pew.

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)

Joseph N. Pew, Jr.

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.

Rocky Crest, Gladwyne estate of Joseph Pew, Jr.

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.

Skylands, in Gladwyne, given to the Lutheran Deaconesses by Mary Ethel Pew.

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

Alberta 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.