Ardrossan Estate

Ardrossan Estate History

Ardrossan Estate sits at 811 Newtown Rd, Villanova, PA.  The property stretches from Godrey Road to the East to Church Road to the West, and Abrahams Lane to the North and Darby-Paoli Road to the South.  Through subdivision, the Estate represents over 350 acres.  However, at it‘s peak, the estate owned over 1000 contiguous acres. 


The Estate remains today one of the best-known properties in South Eastern Pennsylvania.  

Please enjoy two articles below on the history of Ardrossan.

RADNOR Conservancy 

All About Ardrossan

The Ardrossan Estate is an extraordinary 350-acre gentleman’s farm situated in the midst of a highly developed suburban landscape. It is the very last of the great Philadelphia Main Line estates, still owned and occupied by the original owners-

The Montgomery/Scott/Wheeler family. The property currently hosts both a working farm and a compound of historic buildings, including one of the finest Main Line manor homes of the early 20th century. The Trumbauer-designed Ardrossan Manor Home remains of major historic and cultural importance as a rare ensemble of architecture, landscape, and decorative arts kept intact and in excellent condition during a period of history in which other estates have been subdivided and sold off. Ardrossan represents a unique vestige of a by-gone era, preserving a magnificent landscape and the important cultural history of the Philadelphia Main Line lifestyle, as so famously represented in the 1940 classic The Philadelphia Story, based on the adored Hope Montgomery Scott and her enchanting life at Ardrossan.

The Ardrossan estate’s 350 acres of rolling meadows is the largest undeveloped tract in Radnor Township. Black Angus cattle still graze the beautiful pastures on the estate that was named after the family’s ancestral home in Ayrshire, Scotland.


Mainline Times December 2012

Renowned architect Horace Trumbauer designed the three-story, 38,000-square-foot, 50-room baronial brick Georgian Revival structure. The interior was the work of White Allom and Company (think Buckingham Palace).

Ardrossan was built between 1911 and 1913. Col. Robert Leaming Montgomery and his wife, Charlotte Hope Binney (Tyler) Montgomery, moved in at the end of 1912. They named the estate after the family’s ancestral home in Ayrshire, Scotland. It was always an event house—one designed for maximum guest appeal. “On the approach from the driveway, you don’t seeArdrossan at all—then suddenly you do,” says David Nelson Wren, Ardrossan’s leading historian. “Inside, only invited guests could see through to the backyard.”

By now, it’s a well-known piece of local trivia that the estate was the inspiration for The Philadelphia Story, the Philip Barry play that became a 1940 Oscar-winning film starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart. It’s been said thatHepburn’s Tracy Lord was inspired by the Montgomerys’ first daughter, Helen Hope Montgomery Scott.

Founder of what is now Janney Montgomery Scott LLC,Col. Montgomery knew the property inside and out. At the time, it was connected to Radnor Hunt, which was founded by his father. He knew that Gen. Anthony Wayne’s mother was born there, in a home dating back to 1689. Its springhouse is still standing, as is the township’s first school.

Montgomery’s local landholdings totaled upwards of 1,000 acres. In 1931, he bought Mansfield Plantation in Georgetown, S.C., as a retreat. Today, about 350 acres remain of the original Ardrossan estate—the largest undeveloped tract in Radnor Township. Adjacent to Overbrook Golf Club, it stretches from Church to Godfrey roads, and from Abrahams Lane to Darby Paoli Road. Many structures, more than 100 years older than the manor house, remain. Black Angus cattle still graze the pastures.

Montgomery served in the Spanish-American War, then worked in the War Department during World War I. Back then, the Montgomerys also owned a Washington, D.C., home that now houses the French ambassador to the United States. “They certainly lived in some extraordinary places,” says Wren.

At Ardrossan, Montgomery was also a dairy farmer, with a prized herd of Ayrshires. Toward the end of his life, he took up aviation and helped pioneer the autogyro, which he often flew to Mansfield. He died there in 1949.

While largely Episcopalian and “Republican by herd,” Wren says, the family was always interested in conservation and historic preservation, had “Democratic tendencies” in the arts, and opposed prohibition. “The colonel was for drinking parties,” Wren says. “To him, it was the equivalent of taking away his fox hunting.”

Or the equivalent of taking away Ardrossan from the Main Line. “That’s the thing,” Wren says. “This land can’t be replaced. Today, the heirs continue to side with the status quo, even if the sale of the paintings alone could pay years’ worth of bills.”

More articles...

Architectural Digest Ardrossan Article
Philadelphia Inquirer Ardrossan Article
Main Line Today Article