Last Sunday, St Mary’s Villa for Children and Families opened their doors to the public for the first time in over decade. There was an overwhelming response from the community, as the former Mattison estate is an incredible piece of property that many have been curious about for quite some time. I, myself, have longed to see the inside of the famed “castle” and have attempted walking the grounds before but only to be asked to leave. I suppose I missed the Private Property signs…
The self guided tour was interesting and informative (I’ve included an excerpt of the tour notes below), although as impressive as the property is, it is sad to see the state of the grounds. The beauty and splendor they once exuded I can easily imagine, but due to the cost of maintenance the grounds are now in very poor condition. Opening the property for this tour is one step towards raising money for much needed maintenance and restoration. Don’t worry if you missed the opportunity, they will be holding tours periodically going forward. Below are some photos I took as well as some information from the tour, I hope you enjoy!
St Mary’s Villa for Children and Families, formerly known as “Lindenwold”, the estate of Dr. Richard Vanseelous Mattison (1851 – 1936). Dr. Mattison was co-owner of Keasbey and Mattison Company of Ambler, the largest asbestos manufacturing company in the world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Dr Mattison received his degrees from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (1872) and the University of PA Medical School (1879). He formed the company with fellow classmate, Henry G. Keasbey, initially to produce pharmaceutical products. Since boyhood, Mattison had been interested in asbestos and began experimenting with it in combination with magnesium based carbonate. He formed it into insulating material for pipes and his empire was created.
Ambler flourished due to Dr. Mattison’s influence. Many homes were built for company workers and he was the force behind the development of the electric and water companies. Dr. Mattison was a forward thinking man like many of the wealthy tycoons of his day. In 1888 he purchased Lindenwold which contained an elaborate Victorian mansion. In 1912 he encased it in stone to resemble Windsor Castle in England. Dr. Mattison enjoyed traveling in Germany and Scotland and many of the European features of Lindenwold still exist today.
Dr. Mattison was married twice and had three children by his first wife, Esther, whom he married in 1874. Their first child , Esther Victoria, born about 1878 died at the age of four from typhoid fever. Their second child, Richard Jr. was born about the time she died and their third, Royal, in 1895. Both Richard and Royal worked with their father in the family business. In their early adult years, Richard lived on Cedar Lane and Royal in 8 Lindenwold Terrace. Richard never had children, but Royal had one, Royal Jr.
Dr. Mattison’s business thrived until the depression years. He was forces to move from the Castle around 1934 to 1 Lindenwold Terrace. Lindenwold eventually sold to the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (the present owners) in January, 1936. Dr. Mattison died in November of that year at the age of 85.
There is a lot more information, history and detail that you will get by taking the tour, I suggest that you do so the next time it’s offered!