Remembering Philly

April 17, 2015

I love nontoxic old photographs. So when I recently found several wonderful photos of my trips to Pennsylvania, I relived many wonderful memories. This blog post photo was taken with Mother and my brothers during one of our many trips to see my Aunt in Pennsylvania.

Truth be told, my first journey to Pennsylvania was as a youngboy when I visited my Aunt, a Dominican Sister, who lived with her fellow Sisters on the 42-acre estate of the former Elstowe Manor,in Elkins Park, PA. Built in 1898, today it is known today as the Elkins Estate.

As a Dominican Sister, my Aunt helped operate the retreats held on the property throughout the year, and often during the off seasons she would invite my Grandmother and me for long, extended visits. Being a devoted lover of all things home and garden (yes, even back then), my passions were nurtured, as this 45-room Manor, built in the style of Italian High Renaissance, became my home away from home. The unique interior and gardens became my learning center for all things beautiful.

The greenhouse on the property was always a magical experience as I could play in the dirt year-round. My visits were educational and fun as this grand estate was the perfect setting to experience elaborate plantings and magnificent gardens while learning about this from my Grandmother. She once owned her own amazing gardens in New England before she relocated to Philadelphia. She would walk me through the grounds of the Elkins Estate sharing many stories of her years in her garden and her own passion for Mother Nature.  

This once private home was opulent, not doubt, but with my Aunt and Grandmother by my side the Elkins Estate all felt so attainable. Because evenings were spent dining with the sisters, I would meet the caregivers, many who were nuns themselves, and learn first hand from them. During rainy days when the grounds were out of bounds, I zipped through the grand rooms on my roller skates, staring up at the chandeliers and glittering gold leaf. Late at night I would roam the vast corridors and the soaring staircase wondering what life would be like as a steward of this great estate.

Although my Grandmother & Aunt are no longer alive today, my home, Rosebrook Gardens, is filled with many wonderful touches of those amazing trips. (Just smaller scaled.) My designs are filled with inspirational ideas from the many visits that hold such wonderful memories in my heart. My home captures the essence of my visits to Pennsylvania and across the country, while holding close the love and passion I have for my Aunt, Grandmother and Mother Nature. 

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