Lower Merion Historical Society

The Lower Merion Historical Society

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Douglas Macfarlan: Antiquarian, Cartographer, Otolaryngologist

half-length photo portrait in world war 1 uniform, seated with hands folded in lap
Macfarlan c. 1918

Dr. Douglas Macfarlan (1886-1966) left his professional mark on the prevention and treatment of deafness, establishing clinics and hearing testing in public schools. An enthusiastic local and family historian, he was active in the Pennsylvania, Montgomery County and Valley Forge Historical Societies and the St. Andrews Society.

We remember him as a co-founder of the Lower Merion Historical Society and our second president (1954 to 1960). “Macfarlan was the voice” of the Society, wrote journalist David Schmidt in Celebrating Their Own History in 1999.

As this gallery demonstrates, he was an accomplished artist and mapmaker as well.

The Maps

Click the maps to open a fullscreen version.

Watercolors of Landmark Buildings

From LMHS #FF078 Map of the Historic Mainline; border of 20 sketches of local buildings.

Macfarlan’s Ellerslie

3-story white house with porch map with overlay showing four houses
Ellerslie, formerly 101 Church Road, Wynnewood, occupied the site of Llanfair Circle. Historical map: Property Atlas of the Main Line, Franklin Survey Co. (1961).

Another portion of [Wynne Wood] the original Jones holding near Church Road was sold to Dr. Malcolm and Hannah Macfarlan in 1894. The Macfarlans purchased Homeworth, a remodeled house of the early nineteenth century, and named by Jonathan Jones’ widow, Mary Thomas Jones, in 1840. They changed the name of the house to Ellerslie, Dr. Macfarlan’s birthplace in Scotland, and built three additional houses at 201, 207, and 213 Church Road. They had bought Ellerslie for a summer residence, and the property was used as a small farm. Dr. Douglas Macfarlan, one of the founders of the Lower Merion Historical Society, grew up there, and, after 1930, lived there with his wife. His interest in local history and his sketches of historic buildings have conserved knowledge of the area’s past. After his death in 1966, the Philadelphia Electric Company purchased the property and resold it. Ellerslie was razed, and luxury homes were built in the late 1970s on the land, some of which the township reserved for recreation.

—from “Lower Merion” by Phyllis C. Maier, chapter 25 of Montgomery County: The Second Hundred Years (1983)

Photographs of Dr. Macfarlan and Ellerslie courtesy Ruth Freeman, his granddaughter.