Page 23

Bloomfield GEORGE H. MCFADDEN JR. ESTATE Villanova, Pennsylvania · 1923–1924

He named the renovated house Bloomfield in honor of his wife’s stepfather. By 1923 the house was in need of enlargement because of the ever-increasing social activities of Mr. and Mrs. McFadden and their maturing children—two daughters soon would be making their debuts.This time the renovation project was given to Horace Trumbauer. In the course of enlarging the structure, Trumbauer was also able to effect a complete transformation, giving Bloomfield the air of a genuine late 17th-century French chateau. The only recognizable feature that was retained from the earlier house was a conservatory that jutted out rather incongruously from one end of the principal garden facade. With Trumbauer’s strict adherence to classical symmetry, one can be certain that this disquieting element was left at the insistence of the client. Sheathed in smooth Indiana limestone with a subtly contrasting trim of French Caen stone, the 35-room Bloomfield is one of the most imposing houses on Philadelphia’s Main Line, and certainly it is one of the most elegant. Giving it additional height and dignity is the structure’s soaring slate roof that periodically is punctuated with decorative stone dormers that extend down below the cornice line. Overall, the house’s aristocratic bearing has an authenticity one comes to expect in the architect’s mature work. The setting was enhanced by an Olmsted Brothers naturalistic park that was augmented by a series of formal gardens immediately surrounding the structure. Trumbauer collaborated on the interiors with Alavoine, the architect’s preferred decorator when working on French

George McFadden was born into wealth. His father, George H. McFadden, was the founder and senior partner of Geo. H. McFadden & Brother, one of the largest cotton brokerage firms in the world. The younger McFadden was born in 1873, and 20 years later he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania and joined his father’s firm as a junior partner. Later on his other business interests included a trusteeship in the Penn Mutual Insurance Company and directorships in the Commercial Trust Company and the Girard National Bank. Because of his distinguished record during World War I—in both professional and personal capacities—he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by General Pershing. McFadden was one of only two American civilian members of the armistice committee that convened in Paris at the end of the war. Athletic in nature, he was a leading American polo player as well as highly proficient in both tennis and squash. He was an avid clubman, with memberships in Philadelphia’s Union League and the Bryn Mawr Polo, Downtown, Racquet, and Merion Cricket clubs. In April 1906 McFadden married Josephine Burton, daughter of Bloomfield and Caroline Burton McIlvain, with whom he had four children. The couple initially inhabited a town house at 18th and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia. Needing more space to raise their children, McFadden purchased an estate in Villanova in 1911. The property, then named Pregny, originally had been developed in 1885 by naturalist A. E. Gallatin and adjoined his father’s estate, Barclay Farm. In 1912 McFadden hired the architectural firm of Zantzinger & Borie to revamp and enlarge the existing house, and it turned out to be a rather clumsy interpretation of an 18th-century French chateau.

F O L L OW I N G PA G E S : E N T R A N C E F A C A D E , 2 0 0 9

233

Profile for Acanthus Press LLC

American Splendor: Residential Architecture of Horace Trumbauer  

Horace Trumbauer (1868-1938) was one of the most influential residential architects in the country house era that lasted from the late 19th...

American Splendor: Residential Architecture of Horace Trumbauer  

Horace Trumbauer (1868-1938) was one of the most influential residential architects in the country house era that lasted from the late 19th...

Advertisement