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243 Conshohocken State Rd

Date of Construction: ca. 1901
Original Architect: Olmstead Brothers -- gates & landscape
Original Owner: Percival Roberths
Description of the Resource: The gates and gazebo that exist at this address are all that remain of a large estate called “Penshurst.” In 1890, Percival Roberts, director of the U.S. Steel Company, began purchasing farmland in Penn Valley and Gladwyne. By the turn of the 20th century, he amassed 539 acres and he and his wife soon began planning their house. They hired the architecture firm, Peabody & Stearns of Boston, in 1901 to design their 75 room house. They called upon landscape architects, the Olmstead Brothers, to design terraces and fountains and to lay out miles of drive and create the gates on Conshohocken State Road that still exist today. The estate was a working farm, with successful dairy barns and dozens of farm workers on staff. Despite spending millions beautifying the estate, the Roberts did little entertaining. Mrs. Roberts grew ill in the 1930s, and when Percival heard of plans for construction of an incinerator smoke stack in his viewshed, in 1939 the Roberts decided to move. That same year, Roberts acquired a demolition permit for “Penshurst” and, after first selling the interior paneling and artwork, the house was soon gone. Some elements of the gardens remained, but the lot was eventually subdivided and developed in the 1950s and 1960s. A house constructed in 1972 now sits at 243 Conshohocken State Road. Gates and Gazebo from the Percival Roberts Jr. estate: Penshurst. Brick & stone. See #317. (91)
Class: 2
Street Classification: Primary
Name of Local Historic District: Not in a local district
Name of National Historic District: Not applicable
Reviewed By: Historical Commission
Inventory Index Number: NA010

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