A new chapter in 'The Philadelphia Story': 15 luxury houses coming to grounds of famed Ardrossan estate

After sitting for decades as untouched land in fast-growing Delaware County, nearly 10 acres of the fabled Ardrossan estate will soon become the grounds for 15 luxury custom homes that are expected to sell for at least $2.25 million each.

Todd Pohlig, principal of the luxury custom-home builder Pohlig Homes, said Monday in an interview with the Inquirer and Daily News that his Malvern-based company had settled on the purchase of the lots in February. The price was not disclosed.

According to Pohlig, his company plans to develop the 15 homes on 3/4-acre lots near the property’s large, stone water tower on Newtown Road in Villanova, just a few miles away from I-476. Each of the homes will back up to large swaths of open space, including the gently rolling hills and pockets of trees that helped etch the Ardrossan estate into history as an example of old Main Line grandeur.

Situated in the heart of Radnor Township, the Ardrossan estate — once set on nearly 800 acres — spent decades as a rarefied manor for one of the Philadelphia-area’s most famous families. In 1911, Col. Robert Montgomery, a wealthy stockbroker, commissioned renowned architect Horace Trumbauer to build his family home. The result was Ardrossan, a 50-room, nearly 33,000-square-foot Georgian Revival manor set amid the sprawling, open space.

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Set in the heart of Radnor Township, the Ardrossan estate has long been a sign of Main Line grandeur.

The estate skyrocketed to fame beyond the local region after Ardrossan inspired the 1940 film The Philadelphia Story, starring Katharine Hepburn, who played Montgomery’s first daughter, Helen Hope Montgomery Scott. Eventually, however, as time passed, chunks of the land were sold off or donated, including about dozens of acres that became part of the Radnor Township park system, and 300 acres were put under conservation easements.

The emphasis for the property, according to Edgar “Eddie” Scott III, Hope Montgomery Scott’s grandson, has been to “preserve as much open space at Ardrossan as possible.” However, 50 to  100 acres have and will continue to be sold for development, including the 10 acres to Pohlig.

“Our goal is to have the fewest number of houses,” said Scott, a developer and family spokesman. “But we also want to listen very carefully to what the market wants, which has given us the opportunity to do some very unique things.”

A handful of other homes have sprouted on the parcels that have been earmarked for development, including some that were built earlier by Pohlig.

Pohlig’s new houses will be clustered around a cul-de-sac dubbed Ivy Lane. Pohlig anticipates that two models of houses will be built at the site: properties for “empty nesters,” ranging from 3,700 to 4,200 square feet, as well as houses for move-up buyers, which will be in the 5,000- to 6,000-square-foot range, he said. Each of the houses, he added, would  offer covered porches, cooking areas, spas, pools and more.

The land development has been approved and a permit will be sought for each custom house.

Pohlig said he expects to start construction of roads, sidewalks, and curbs in May, with the first homes completed by summer 2019. Four of the lots have been sold thus far.

“It’s a super location and just a magnificent piece of ground,” Pohlig said. “I don’t think I have ever been associated with a piece as nice as this.”