Updated: Jan 30
Back in April of this year, I received an email about a property owned by Edward B. Smith. He was able to get information about his background and a blueprint of the remodeling by his son John Story Smith. The question he asked was whether he demolished the home prior to his ownership, or he revitaitzed the old home that stood before him.
In this post, I decided to dive into this research, and see if I could find the answer to his question regarding the mansion owned by Edward B. Smith.
Edward B. Smith
Edward Brinton Smith (1861-1918) was born in Philadelphia on September 23 to Dr. Albert H. and Emily (Kaighn) Smith.
During his education, he attended the William Penn Charter School and graduated at the University of Pennsylvania in 1882.
He began working in many firms and creating his own firms in Philadelphia.
In 1892, he established his firm Edward B. Smith & Co. with Francis E. Bond and George W. Norris, both whom lived near his home in Lower Gwynedd.
Philadelphia Mayor Rudolph Blankenburg made Edward a member of the advisory committee on the city finances. The committee was comprised of five of the leading bankers and financiers of Philadelphia.
He was also the director of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Co., Lehigh Valley Transit Co. Franklin National Bank, Girard Fire and Marine Insurance Co., American Gas Co., and the United Railways Investment Co.
"He was one of the few men who dared break through the traditional financial practices and alignments so long in vogue in Philadelphia. He was that type of man who feels that he has a just right to such place as he can make for himself, and that independent action, even in the face of criticism and condemnation by those who stand by old orders of things, should not by turned aside from its course."
- James T. White, 307
Edward's Summer Home "Temora"
According to real estate articles, they all said that this home was built in 1898. This is true. According to the Ambler Gazette clipping shown below, it showed that Edward started building his home around 1898 after purchasing the former Ewing property. It seems that Andrew Murphy occupied the property for a very short time before Edward purchased it.
There was no information regarding the previous owners of the Smith property, but the historic maps showed that "T. Gay" was the earliest owner. Then later on "B. Ewing" purchased the property in the early 1890s. When he purchased it, it was said that he would make improvements on the property, assuming the buildings on T. Gay's property still existed at the time.
It wasn't long until Edward B. Smith purchased the Ewing property in the same year. It was that same year he began building his summer home. He also made improvements around the former Ewing property, including the barn and coach house that stood before him. He even added a new section of his home, a new driveway, and a new barn with the same contractors who built his stone house: J.S. Cornell & Sons.
The home itself looks more of a Colonial Revival-style with its colonial period architectural features with hints of Victorian features: pedimented door entryway and dormers, double-hung sash windows, pent roofs, keystones, an eyebrow dormer, and bay windows.
"The idea behind the Colonial Revival style was to suggest the original colonial era but not to imitate it exactly. Architects began to use design elements from the American Revolution War-era, like pedimented or gabled windows, pronounced front porch and entrances, pilasters and columns, front doors with fan lights or side lights, and Palladian windows, and adapted them onto residences, banks, libraries, churches and schools. Because the late 19th century architects could take advantage of the advancements in building construction technology and better mill work (options that their forefathers did not have), Colonial Revival style buildings were larger and more robust-looking than their earlier counterparts."
- National Parks Service
The most important feature in any historic building is the date marker. If you look closely to the date marker on the side of the building, the year said 1898 with the initials "E.B. & L.H. S.," belonging to Edward B. Smith and his wife Laura H. Smith.
Date markers are very useful to determine the year a building was constructed.
His home was purchased by Gwynedd Mercy College in 1953, and was used as their first dormitory. They named the dormitory "Marylyn." It was unknown how long it lasted.
"1336 Gypsy Hill Rd, Ambler, PA 19002." Redfin. Accessed December 14, 2021. https://www.redfin.com/PA/Lower-Gwynedd-Township/1336-Gypsy-Hill-Rd-19002/home/38465267.
Baist, G. Wm. Montgomery County 1891, Gwynedd, Whitpain, North Wales, Penllyn Sta., Spring House Right, Plate 011, 1891.
Bond Centennial and Heritage Committee and Marion K. Rosenbaum. Gwynedd-Mercy College. (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2006): 44.
Brown, Joshua. "Saying Goodbye to Smith Barney." Forbes. Last modified September 25, 2012. https://www.forbes.com/sites/joshuabrown/2012/09/25/saying-goodbye-to-smith-barney/?sh=1a4da274d199.
"Colonial Revival Style 1880s - 1940s." National Parks Service. Last modified August 2, 2019. https://www.nps.gov/articles/colonial-revival-architecture.htm.
Franklin Survey Company. Montgomery County 1934 Vol A, Plate 15, 1934.
"Google Maps Area Calculator Tool." DaftLogic. Accessed August 15, 2021. https://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-area-calculator-tool.htm.
Herman, Andrew Mark. Eastern Montgomery County Revisited. (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2005): 79.
Leonard, John William. Who's Who in Finance, Banking and Insurance: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Bankers, Capitalists and Others Engaged in Financial Activities in the United States and Canada. (New York: Joseph & Sefton, 1911): 867.
Mueller, A. H. Atlas of the North Penn Section of Montgomery County, Pa., Plate 29, 1916.
Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide, v. 13, n. 1 (1898): 481.
"Philadelphia Stock Brokers: Edward B. Smith & Company." 1898 Revenues (blog). September 12, 2012. http://1898revenues.blogspot.com/2012/09/philadelphia-stock-brokers-edward-b.html.
Potter, Payton. "Ambler's Historic 'Second Tamora' Estate Just Listed For $3M." Patch. Last modified December 4, 2020. https://patch.com/pennsylvania/ambler/amblers-historic-second-tamora-estate-just-listed-3m.
Scott, J. D. Montgomery County 1877, Gwynedd, North Wales, Ambler, Royer's Ford, Limerick Station, 1877.
"Smith Residence." Philadelphia Architects and Buildings. Accessed October 21, 2021. https://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/pab/app/pj_display.cfm/98132.
White, James T. The National Cyclopædia of American Biography: Being the History of the United States as Illustrated in the Lives of the Founders, Builders, and Defenders of the Republic, and of the Men and Women who are Doing the Work and Moulding the Thought of the Present Time, Volume 17. (New York: James T. White & Co., 1920): 306-307.
"Wissahickon Valley Public Library's Ambler Gazette Collection." POWER Library: Pennsylvania's Electronic Library. Accessed August 16, 2021. http://digitalcollections.powerlibrary.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/wivp-gazett.
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