Sunday at St. Mary’s

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!

Historical Information

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!

Categories: Ambler

  1. Nancy Landry

    Please let me know when you are having the next open house. My grandfather was Dr. Madisons gate keeper.
    My father lived there as a young boy.
    I live in VA and would need to make plans.

  2. Allison Wolf

    Nancy, As soon as I hear of the next open house, I’ll be sure to let you know. I hope you enjoyed the photos!

  3. Wayne

    Thanks for the photo. I hope the desire to restore the grounds is alive and well

  4. Connie Brick

    Our next castle tour is planned for Saturday, December 8, 2012 from 1pm to 4pm. We will be sending an update to the Ambler Event Calendar, and the local papers. Cost is $10 and reservation requests can be sent to St. Mary’s Villa Tour, 701 S. Bethlehem Pike, Ambler, PA 19002. For additional information call 215-643-7676. Your interest in preserving and restoring our local gem is greatly appreciated. Thank you and we hope to see you December 8th.

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  8. richard reynolds

    I would like to join a tour. I once lived at Saint Mary’s.