"I dream't I dwelt in marble halls"
Devoted to the histories and current state of the great mansions of America's Gilded Age.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bloomfield Mansion at Villanova Suffers Devastating Fire

Bloomfield before yesterday's devastating  fire.
Click HERE to see current photos from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Click HERE to see yesterdays posting with links to color photos of the house before the fire and floor plans.
Click HERE to see it on youtube before the fire.

11 comments:

NYarch said...

To add to what I posted yesterday, looking at the latest photos online, I would presume the house is total loss. Yes the walls might be intact and some first floor mantles and panelling can be sold off as salvage, but the 2nd & 3rd floors look to be total losses as well as the service wing and with the estimate to rebuild probably running into multi-millions, I would presume the owner will opt to take the insurance money and build a new home and subdivide portions of the property since the mansion has been for sale with no buyers for many years. A sad loss of a historic home.

Alec said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alec said...

Nothing is a total loss. If that were the case many of the ancient houses of the UK would have been loss to fire and neglect years ago. The only thing that rides on whether the house will be restored or not is money. I would remind you that the 3rd story was destroyed by fire in 1978, but was later rebuilt.

However, I would agree with you that since the owner really has no personal ties with the house, he will most likely demolish the remaining lower stories and subdivide the property, which would probably be the most financially practical thing to do.

Most damaged structures and ruins can be restored. The restoration of the Menokin Plantation is a great example of this..

Alec said...

Here is a link, which features the restoration of the Menokin Plantation...


http://youtu.be/jIak9Kp6lxw

Ornate Ceilings and Walls said...

Agree with Alec's comment: Nothing is a total loss. Originally from Ireland, some of our fine homes were saved from demolition. It takes money, vision and passion to save what went before for those to come.

NYarch said...

I am a strident preservationist and of course know that nothing is a total loss if you love your property you would want it rebuilt no matter what. Unfortunately in this case the owner couldnt sell his property for years and the insurance money amounting to millions of dollars will probably only cover a partial rebuilding and he would again be stuck with a large home that he cant sell so demolition is going to be the preferred option. Passion and vision and the latest wishes of an owner of an historic property dont always go hand in hand. My family has been in the insurance business for many years and I know the team that is going to assess the home will all declare the building a total loss according to the guidelines governing the coverage. This frees the homeowner from a costly rebuilding project and he can choose the option to build a new structure instead. Also if his coverage didnt take into account the unique interiors, expensive materials and irreplaceble fittings, then no amount of money he gets from insurance will be able to restore the house.

Mansions of the Gilded Age, Gary Lawrance, AIA said...

Yes,any building can be rebuilt. I was in St.Petersburg about 5 years and toured all the gutted out palaces there destroyed during WWII and you would never know, they were sometimes only burned out shells left. If you can restore one of the those buildings with some of the most ornate, expensive interiors ever created, you can rebuild a 20th century house. But Bloomfield will likely be demolished for all the above reasons that NY arch said.

Mansions of the Gilded Age, Gary Lawrance, AIA said...

Here is Pavlovsk Palace,do a google search for restored photos. http://tweedlandthegentlemansclub.blogspot.com/2010/10/incredible-restoration-of-pavlovsk.html

Mansions of the Gilded Age, Gary Lawrance, AIA said...

Here is a good site to show the restoration of Pavlovsk. http://www.pavlovskart.spb.ru/english/palace/resto/

NYarch said...

Gary. The Russians did an almost impossible job when restoring the palace shells that surrounded Saint Petersburg. Although politics of the time despised the Romanovs, they viewed the palaces as symbols of the skills and craftsmanship of the common working man and restored these treasures instead of destroying them. An unbelieveable restoration. Poland also undertook monumental efforts to rebuild their city centers from piles of rubble after massive devastation from WW II again as a symbolic gesture to their national pride. Venice virtually built a new Fenice opera house a few years back after total destruction, again because the city loved the building. I always wished that this country had that kind of pride and concern for our heritage. Preservation organizations in the US are horribly underfunded, sometimes ineffective and many times viewed as a hinderance to owners property rights and vehemently fought by some homeowners. Your blog helps to get out the message that there are many buildings worth preserving for future generations.

Alec said...

I think its still too soon to determine whether the lower stories of Bloomfield will be restored or not. While there is a significant chance that the house could be totally demolished , I still wouldn't rule out restoration just yet. The fact is that no one currently knows whether the property is salvageable or not. Various news sources have claimed that the house was either "destroyed", "hollowed out" or "partially damaged." Furthermore, I have yet to see a legitimate report as to the house's present condition.

I should also mention that no one really knows what the owner's current intentions are for the property. For all we know, he could be a staunch preservationist.

Perhaps, I am just trying to remain optimistic, but until we know the true condition of the house and what the owner's intentions are for it, I don't think we can make any substantive predictions just yet.

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