Learning, Exploring, Celebrating and Connecting: The Softer Side of the Willows Mansion Restoration
Willows Preserve, Evergreen
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Giving new life back to the Willows Mansion
Click the button below to read the news flipbook on Radnor News.
M. Schweiter Oeth: Forever loving Logan, finding joy; Devon, Berwyn & Narberth must-tries; Vetri dishes on Bryn Mawr; Willows & Refectory reboots; RIP Paul Olson; AbbeyFest star power; Sedation dentistry & more
On July 25, 2021, the 10th anniversary of the catastrophe that upended her life, Melissa Schweiter Oeth, 52, posted a grateful message on Facebook, took a long walk near her Devon home and counted her blessings.
That night, she cuddled a little longer with her 22-year-old son Logan, who remains profoundly disabled from the accident. She told him how proud she was of him. Her “Bear” was trying so hard – to talk, to move, to make himself understood.
She went to sleep relieved that the milestone she’d dreaded was over and thankful it hadn’t rained a drop.
Preservationists are working to restore ‘the crown jewel of Radnor Township’
The Willows mansion in Villanova, built in 1910, is undergoing renovation for use for weddings and other public events.
Walking near the Willows Mansion in Villanova a few years ago, a resident of the area noticed a reddish terra-cotta roof tile in heavy brush.
Gingerly picking it up from under poison ivy, he took it to the group renovating the mansion, designed by renowned Philadelphia architect Charles Barton Keen for the bride of a wealthy distillery owner. The mansion was built in 1910 and originally called Rose Garland. The tile turned out to be a fragment of the long-forgotten original roof.
The incident illustrates how chance and luck can play a large role in a historical renovation.
Outdoor music event a success in Radnor
While most live music events such as the Delaware County Summer Music Festival at Rose Tree Park have been curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one group managed to safely hold a physically distanced concert Sunday.
Willows Park Preserve and Winding Way Records hosted an evening of music at Willows Park Preserve. The show featured performers Lauren Mendelsohn, the band “Under the Oak” and Cookie Rabinowitz in a two-hour concert in the shade next to the park’s mansion. The free concert offered spacious grass seating as families and couples brought picnic baskets or purchased boxed dinners at the event. Each family was given a designated section to sit in and performers took necessary precautions such as using personal microphones and staying spaced apart.
Willows Park Summer Concert Series: A physically distanced return to live music
Winding Way Records, in partnership with the Willows Park Preserve, presents a physically distanced outdoor Summer Concert Series. This free series is one of the first of its kind to allow for live music to be enjoyed in a safe manner in a time when live entertainment has come to a halt. The first event will be on July 12 at 5 p.m. at the Willows Park Preserve and will feature Under the Oak and Cookie Rabinowitz.
Willows Park Preserve launches the Great Slate Challenge
Radnor – As the Willows Mansion’s roof restoration nears completion; the Willows Park Preserve has shifted gears to the outdoor spaces. This week it launched the Great Slate Challenge to raise funds to refurbish the mansion’s blue slate terrace, and build a new 40’ x 80’ outdoor programming space, called the Whispering Terrace, to overlook the pond. By Labor Day, the non-profit hopes to sell the 1,173 slates needed to start the project, at $500 each.
The Board of the Willows Park Preserve host garden party
On Saturday, September 21, 2019 The Board of the Willows Park Preserve invited guests to wear their garden attire and sample a seasonal menu, including refreshments. They were also invited to listen to live music and stroll through the Willows Mansion and Gardens. Event proceeds will be used for the Willow’s upkeep and maintenance. Willows Park Preserve Board Members were pictured in front of the mansion at the beginning of the event.
Willows Park Preserve fundraiser a home run
RADNOR—About 120 people turned out for a Willows Park Preserve fundraiser at the Willows mansion recently, enjoying a lovely late summer evening, the beautiful, sweeping view from the patio and the fabulous interior of the house, which dates to 1910. The WPP will be renovating the 16,000-square foot mansion and opening it up for the public to enjoy as a venue for cultural, educational, environmental and community programs.
Radnor BOC approves new 25-year lease with Willows Park Preserve
RADNOR — After some wrangling, the Radnor Board of Commissioners approved a new 25-year lease with the Willows Park Preserve, a nonprofit group that plans to renovate the more than 100-year-old mansion in the park that’s fallen on hard times.
The BOC voted 4-1, to approve the new lease, with Commissioner John Nagle abstaining in deference to the opinion of the parks and recreation board members who spoke out against it. Commissioner Luke Clark was absent.
Work underway for arboretum at the Willows
RADNOR >> The Willows park is named for a tree species, so it’s fitting that it’s going to become the home of a new arboretum.
“We’re just thrilled to get this first sponsorship to get the Willows Park Preserve,” said Tish Long, president of the new nonprofit group that is leasing the mansion at the Willows from the township and renovating it.
“With the disappearing tree canopy in Radnor Township, this being the largest parcel of open space, to have this be the site of the first township arboretum is wonderful.”
Bartlett Tree Experts in Bala Cynwyd is identifying and labeling 200 trees in the Willows near the circle driveway. For a Level 1 Arboretum designation, 25 trees must be identified and labeled.
“We are certainly excited to help with this project in any way that we can,” said Tom McCarthy, arborist and local area manager with Bartlett. “With an inventory like Bartlett is doing for the Willows, I have no doubt that we will achieve Level 1 Arboretum status. This is similar to other inventories we have done for other well-known arboreta in the area.”
Willows restoration and rehabilitation
The Willows Park Preserve is presently engaged in an extensive restoration and rehabilitation of the Willows Mansion, a beautiful example of Spanish Revival style architecture designed by Charles Barton Keen and constructed in 1910. Working with the local architecture firm of Archer & Buchanan Architecture, Willows Park Preserve seeks to revive and preserve former memories of the mansion’s grandeur while establishing new traditions that will secure its longevity. Respectful updates to the existing mansion combined with a sympathetic addition reminiscent of an historic Orangery will provide more accessible and functional spaces for a multitude of programs—seminars, concerts and social events to name a few—as well as the future offices for Willows Park Preserve. The A&B addition design goes to great lengths to preserve the sweeping views of the park while creating a beautiful and functional venue that will engage the public and can be enjoyed by all generations for years to come.
Archer & Buchanan Architecture is proud to be working in close collaboration with The Willows Park Preserve to complete an extensive restoration and rehabilitation project at the Willows Mansion, a beautiful example of Spanish Revival style architecture designed by Charles Barton Keen and constructed in 1910. Our work supports the Willows Park Preserve in their efforts to revive and preserve former memories of the mansion’s grandeur while establishing new traditions that will secure its longevity. Highlights of our involvement include making respectful updates to the existing mansion as well as designing a sympathetic addition reminiscent of an historic Orangery. The new and renovated spaces will provide a more accessible and functional venue for a multitude of programs—seminars, concerts and social events to name a few—as well as the future offices for Willows Park Preserve. Our design for the addition goes to great lengths to preserve the sweeping views of the park while creating a beautiful and functional property that will engage the public and can be enjoyed by all generations for years to come.
Willows Mansion Getting a New Roof
Roof replacements has begun at the Willows Mansion. The Willows Park Preserve is restoring the mansion to its original red Ludowici tile, a uniquely beautiful architectural terra cotta that was selected in 1910 by original architect Charles Barton Keen. Not only will the new roof look stunning, but it will stand the test of time with a 75-year warranty. Next up is repair work to the stucco, windows, trim, and doors, which starts this summer.
Kaller & Sons Contractors is installing the Ludowici tile roof.
With a $1M anonymous donation, a shuttered historic mansion in Villanova will come back to life
The Willows Mansion, a century-old property owned by Radnor Township that has fallen into disrepair, will be preserved, renovated, and kept as a public space after the township and a newly created private preservation organization recently signed a 10-year lease.
Radnor residents spruce up area outside Willows mansion
Men, women and children armed with rakes, shovels and green thumbs spent part of Saturday, June 30 cleaning up the area around the Willows mansion. The Willows Park Preserve, the nonprofit leading the charge to revitalize and re-imagine the mansion, organized the clean up day. The group filled planters with rose bushes, tidied up flower beds, swept and mulched so the house looks presentable for potential donors who will tour the mansion all summer.
Group unveils new renovation plans for Willows mansion in Radnor
Members of the Willows Park Preserve presented their latest plans for the mansion renovation to the board of commissioners Monday.
The mansion, which dates to 1910 and was designed by noted architect Charles Barton Keen, had been empty and in disrepair for several years after township officials could not agree on a proposal for its use.
Group inks lease with Radnor Township for Willows mansion
Long an empty white elephant standing on the hilltop in the Willows, a gem of a park in Radnor Township, a plucky group of residents has managed to sign a 10-year lease with the township to preserve, renovate and run the mansion, which dates to 1910.
“We’re really excited,” said Tish Long, president of the Willows Park Preserve, the nonprofit formed by the residents who spearheaded the plan to preserve the mansion.
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