Inside Lynnewood Hall, an Abandoned Mansion With Ties to the Titanic
At House Beautiful, we’ve long been fascinated with abandoned mansions, and we might have found the most extravagant one yet: an Elkins Park, Pennsylvania mansion that’s worth an estimated $256 million and has ties to the Titanic.
Leland Kent, who runs a blog and an Instagram account named Abandoned Southeast, is a fanatic when it comes to “abandoned, historic, or off-the-beaten-path places throughout the Southeast” of the United States—and this particular dwelling, which is known as Lynnewood Hall, is no exception.
“I am fascinated with old architecture and historic mansions, so this location has been on my radar and bucket list for quite some time,” Kent tells House Beautiful.
Earlier this year, Kent took a trip to Philadelphia to see Lynnewood Hall for himself, where he spent not one but two days exploring the entire mansion. “Once I came home, I spent weeks researching the property and its amazing history,” he reveals. The Widener family—the original owners of the property—“had a really interesting past and it’s quite sad.”
Kent is referring to the ill-fated lives of George and Harry Widener, the son and grandson of Lynnewood Hall’s owner, Peter Widener. George and Harry went to France to find a French chef to work at their then-new hotel, the Ritz Carlton, but they both died on the Titanic, on their way back home to Lynnewood Hall. The mansion, which was built between 1898 and 1900, cost approximately $8 million to construct.
Since 1996, however, this Gilded Age mansion has been owned by a Korean church, says Kent. Unfortunately, “they could not afford to maintain the property, so they quietly vacated Lynnewood Hall several years ago.” Kent adds that Dr. Richard Yoon, the head of the Korean church, “fought against the local township regarding the property’s tax-exempt status,” as the taxes alone are worth “well over $100,000 per year.”
Given what it would cost to restore this grand home, the church eventually opted to put the mansion up for sale. And although offers were made—well above the asking price, no less—the church refused to sell the property. Today, Lynnewood Hall is off the market and remains vacant and privately owned.
While it’s unclear what will become of Lynnewood Hall, we certainly hope it will one day be restored to its former glory.