On Monday, April 24, 2023 Material Culture is proud to host a truly special event: “Celebrating A Century of Life on The Main Line – Featuring The Oakwell Estate, Villanova, PA.” An estate auction in the grandest tradition, the sale will include property from the historic Oakwell Estate on Philadelphia’s Main Line and other fine estates from the greater Philadelphia region and Upper Manhattan.

The Oakwell estate was originally part of another historic Villanova estate, Stoneleigh. Built in 1877 by Edmund Smith, a Pennsylvania Railroad executive, the 65-acre Stoneleigh was later acquired by Samuel Bodine, who gifted a portion of the land to son William, to build his own home, which he would name Oakwell. The contiguous properties were for some 50 years, starting in 1908, landscaped by the Olmsted Brothers, who inherited their business from their famous father Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York City’s Central Park and generally considered the pater familias of landscape architecture in the United States.

The Oakwell Estate – house, gardens and arboretum, has been the subject of much controversy recently after its new owners, the Lower Merion School District, released their original plans to clear the grand 1922 Mansion and the Olmsted Brothers-designed wooded grounds and gardens in order to make way for new middle school athletic fields. (See https://hiddencityphila.org/2022/10/gilded-age-estate-to-be-demolished-by-school-district/)

An ongoing “Save Oakwell” movement (https://www.saveoakwell.org/) continues to fight for adaptive re-use of the historic property, but Oakwell’s future remains precarious at best. What is clear, is that resident former owner, Dr. John Bennett, founder and CEO of Devon Medical Products, will decamp after living and caring for the estate for 25 years.  https://chestercountyramblings.com/2022/10/24/what-about-oakwell-once-part-of-stoneleigh-now-set-to-be-demolished-by-greedy-lower-merion-school-district/amp/

Bennett’s tasteful additions to the grounds, including classical style urns and statuary, and antique garden furniture will be sold in the auction, as will a wide assortment of his fine art, furniture and decorations. Also a professional vintner and founder of Oakwell Wines, Bennett will include oenological accoutrements from the incredible wine cellar he built in the Oakwell mansion. All will be complemented by contributions to the sale from other major local and regional estates and collections.

Live Showroom Auction at Material Culture
Monday, April 24, 2023, 9AM
Public Preview at Material Culture: April 21-22-23, 11AM-4PM
4700 Wissahickon Ave., Philadelphia PA, 19144

Public Preview at The Oakwell Estate
April 21-22-23, 11AM-4PM
Join Us! Sunday, April 23, Noon to 4PM, Exhibition Reception
With a Special Oakwell Vineyard Wine Tasting
1835 County Line Rd., Villanova, PA, 19085