Preservationists take ownership of Lynnewood Hall

by Carla Robinson
Posted 7/6/23

The Lynnewood Hall Preservation Foundation has completed its purchase of the historic estate, paving the way for future public access.

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Preservationists take ownership of Lynnewood Hall


The Lynnewood Hall Preservation Foundation has completed its purchase of the historic Lynnewood Hall estate in the Elkins Park neighborhood of Cheltenham Township, paving the way for future public access to the Gilded Age mansion that has been vacant and deteriorating for more than 30 years.

Edward Thome, who co-founded the foundation and serves as executive director with partner Angie Van Scyoc, who is chief operating officer, said they are ready to “hit the ground running and get this place open to the public again.”

They could not say exactly when that would happen, however. Neither did they disclose the actual sale price, reporting only that it was covered by the $9.5 million they’ve raised thus far. 

“We plan on putting a lot of time and attention into being able to at least bring the public onto the grounds,” Van Scyoc said. “There are a lot of safety issues that need to be dealt with before we can open the house to the public.”

With the help of angel investors Susan and Scott Bentley, the group finalized the new deed on Friday – almost exactly on the one-year anniversary of the day they met their investor. Scott Bentley, of Pottstown, was a founding partner of the software and systems engineering company Bentley Systems and is the executive chairman of VideoRay, which builds and operates robotic underwater survey machines. 

The group purchased the property from Dr. Richard Yoon of the Korean Presbyterian Church of New York, who had assumed ownership in 1996 after the Faith Theological Seminary – which had purchased it in 1956 and where Yoon had lived as a student – failed to pay its mortgage. 

“We’ve been working on this project for so many years, and thanks to the generosity of Susan and Stephen, this dream has become reality,” Thome said. “It is incredibly humbling. It’s not every day that a dream like this comes to fruition.”

With the purchase finalized, the foundation will continue raising capital for a multiphased restoration project, which includes 34 acres and three main buildings. It is currently working to stabilize the building, and protect both it and the grounds from further decline. 

“Susan and I are thrilled to have played a key role in funding the acquisition of Lynnewood Hall and making it available to everyone, particularly its neighbors in Cheltenham Township,” Scott Bentley said. “Since our first tour of the property, we’ve been fascinated by its potential in bringing the Gilded Age experience to current and future generations.” 

Full restoration will take an enormous amount of time and money as well as skill and effort, so the group is planning for a long-term project that will incorporate an education program for historic restoration into the process, using the work as a kind of educational laboratory. 

Altogether, the estate includes three buildings. Lynnewood Hall itself is 100,000 square feet; Lynnewood Lodge, which originally housed a carriage house and stables, is 16,000 square feet. There is also a 5,000-square-foot gatehouse.

Originally constructed as part home and part art gallery, the opulent Hall included every available luxury of its day – alabaster sinks, doors of solid Florentine bronze, moldings gilded with actual gold and carved black walnut doors imported from London. Built in 1899 by Philadelphia industrialist Peter A. B. Widener, it was designed by famed architect Horace Trumbauer, part of a team that designed the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

The Widener family lived in the house until 1944, when they sold it for $190,000  to the Rev. Carl McIntire, founder of the Faith Theological Seminary. McIntire used the building for his school for about four decades, during which time he sold off many of the estate’s architectural assets – including its one-of-a-kind fountain. Eventually, the building fell into such disrepair that its slate roof collapsed.

For more information about the Lynnewood Hall Preservation Foundation and to contribute to the campaign to preserve Lynnewood Hall, visit