When fire tore through the mansion named Bloomfield on South Ithan Avenue on Wednesday, it not only repeated history, but also destroyed it.
Watching with a crowd of neighbors as Bloomfield burned, real estate agent and home builder Jeff Baxter lamented what he was seeing.
"It's a shame. They don't build them like that anymore," Baxter said about the home with 19 bedrooms, a 25 by 35-foot ballroom and six-car garage.
"You can't replicate the workmanship and design," Baxter told Patch as firefighters moved into the third hour of fighting the flames.
Bloomfield was a turn-of-the-Twentieth-Century country estate.
"(The) French chateau designed by Horace Trumbauer is one of the last remaining grand Country Estates on the Main Line. Privately gated and surrounded by captivating views and perfected gardens designed by Olmstead Brothers,” it is described as by the real estate website Zillow.com.
According to neighbors on the scene, the home had a fire in its third floor in 1978. This fire, according to neighbors who spoke with the property’s gardener immediately after it started, apparently began in the third floor.
The property’s renters, who were home at the time, escaped unharmed.
The 19 bedroom, 10-and-a-half bathroom mansion build in 1905 was recently used a stand-in for New York City's mayor's residence Gracie Mansion in the film Safe.
The mansion’s burning — the extent to which Radnor Patch will update when the information is available — was widely reported on architecture and history web sites.
The fire companies operating on the scene were came from Radnor, Bryn Mawr, Ardmore, Gladwyne, Penn Wynne, King Of Prussia, Manoa and Newtown Square.
CBS 3 captured a shot of a firefighter being wheeled away after being over come by the heat.
6ABC quoted Bryn Mawr fire chief Dan Kincade on the fire: "It had a slate roof. Trying to get through the roof to get to the fire, the fire was underneath really heavily and it's just hard to put out a fire that contained with that much heat."
Bloomfield is named on Radnor Township's Historic Asset Inventory.
According to a 1982 Radnor Historical Society Bulletin (which you can read in the pdf section of this article),
"Soon after Trumbauer undertook the renovation of the home of cotton broker George H. McFadden, Jr., on South Ithan Ave., in Villanova. Trumbauer greatly altered the late Victorian house which stood there. In contrast to McFadden's father 's nearby Barclay Farm, an 18th century inn which had been expanded, McFadden's Bloomfield took on the lines of a Loire Valley chateau of the 16th century. Placed in a setting of formal gardens the house now included a 46 by 25 foot music room, loggia, card room, library, breakfast room, dining room and servants' wing. A St. Quentin stone facade, extended chimneys, new dormers and cornices transformed the house. Supplementing the older carriage house and stables on the border of the property were a new garage in the style of the main house and a gardener's cottage. Interiors of the main house were probably designed by Lucien Alavoine, a leading New York and Paris decorator and long time Trumbauer associate."