Sunday, November 20, 2011

'Timberline' - The William Hinckle Smith Estate

'Timberline', the William Hinckle Smith estate designed by Charles A. Platt c. 1907 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, with landscaping by the Olmsted Brothers. Smith was a director of Girard Trust and the Penn Mutual Life. 'Timberline' was abandoned following Smith's death and eventually demolished.

Photos from Architecture, 1912.


Anonymous said...

Platt was a master at floor plans like this. Classically perfect and formal and elegant arrangement of spaces.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Oh how I love this house. Platt was a master, period.

estateman said...

I played in this house as a
child for many years, it was a facinating ruin in the late 70's - it was surreal. The entire formal gardens - (some of the finest in the United States),designed by the famous landscape firm of were ripped out for a "super highway" called the Blue Route which cut a painful swath across Philadelphia's Main Line. Some of my memories were of a fire set in the stone fireplace in the Dining room by an older friend and watching snow come in the smashed French windows of the terrace.
I still have a piece of the canvus above the missing walnut paneling that has a murky oil painted cupid on a dark background - each wall bore a Latin inscription painted on a plaque that applied to eating and hospitality.

The Library had a painted Italian "Rennaisance" inspired ceiling divided into the signs
of the zodiac. The main staircase had two columns of pale green marble and a divided limestone staircase that rose missing it's bronze railing designed to Charles Platt's specifications.

The owner, millionaire William Hinkle Smith collected many of the Spanish and Italian antique furnishings at the
auction of Stanford White's NYC city home which I believe was the Henry Poor house before that - with many of the same antique furnishings!

The Dining room and Great hall of "Timberline" both had many items easily identifiable from
the auction.

The basement included a tiled swimming pool under the right loggia, and a bowling alley under the long terrace above.
The house smelled that smell of old abandoned and ruined houses.
You probably know that smell... The sound of pigions roosting under the eaves and dripping water broke the quite air. In the spring thousands of daffodils colored the fine park of old trees surrounding what was left of the hilltop site. The main drive rose through the forest to the hilltop but was severed and left on the other side of the highway.
My final memory is of watching
a motorcycle gang roar up the driveway to get out of the storm and enter the house while I sat fearfully above in the huge oval window of the attic storage room.
I did escape...

Anonymous said...

I lived off of bryn mawr avenue and frequently made trips with my buddies to this awesome house.If my memory serves me correctly, this house had a walk in vault in the kitchen,toast machine that could hold 25 pieces of bread in one shot,dumb waiters in the rooms,fireplace statues on either side,massive picture frames without canvas,giant indoor pool,stairs that led up to the 3rd. floor that were wood and creekie, outside water tank fot the house,and warlock motorcycle gang that frequently showed up and scared the hell out of us.It was a shame they demolished such a grand house with many memories. Rich W.

estateman said...

All of your memories are correct,
although I don't remember the toaster.The safe was in the butler's pantry. The pool which was located under the right loggia
was really not that large. The subway ties in it were white, and it was supposed to have muraled tiles in molding on the walls. Off of this area was the bowling alley and a billiard room.

Anonymous said...

More memories from Timberline estate.Black metal spiral staircase that led u down to the lower floor where there was a safe with wheels on its side laying there.Some of the 2nd floor rooms had porcelin tubs and dumbwaiters.found some mattresses on floors for biker gang.oval window in front of house that u could look out a see approaching warlocks.I just wish I could have seen this house when it was at its grandure. Rich W.

Unknown said...

It absolutely breaks my heart to read these comments....that cupid and those Italian Rennaisance paintings on the ceiling were done by my grandfather, Joseph Aruta, much like he did in NYC's Sherry Netherland Hotel, and many, many other places. How very sad that such a grand place came to such an undeserved ending. My family has been working on locating his still-existing many have been lost. How I would love to acquire something like that cupid!