Glenbrook Farm

Image 1: Glenbrook Farm

Image 2, a real estate atlas from 1881, shows Glenbrook Farm, a property owned by John R. Whitney. The atlas represents the house, Glenbrook, with the pink figure just below the word "Glenbrook." Colored in pink, the atlas shows that Glenbook was made of stone or brick. The atlas also shows an extension on the front of the building that would have been used for exiting a carriage; a canopy. As no atlases in this series date before 1881 and the house already exists, one cannot determine the year of construction. J.W. Townsend writes of the house, though many years after its construction, "Mr. Whitney built the first modern 'palatial residence' on the Main Line, though it does not seem so palatial now, compared with the hundreds that have followed it. Its social life was predominated by the characteristics of its owner, its functions being principally for Bible study and prayer meetings" (Townsend 18). Furhtermore, Whitney does not appear in census records until 1880, so one assumes that he moved to the property between 1870 and 1880. Glenbrook sat on eighty-seven acres of land in 1881, between Roberts Road and Bryn Mawr Avenue, along with two other buildings. One of these buildings was a frame stable, the yellow figure, while the other was a stone building.

The 1880 census lists John's occupation as "Farmer." At the age of fifty-one, he and his wife Mary G., who was forty-five, had seven children. Along with daughters Bessie B. (23), Anna T. (14), and Frances J. (11), and sons William (21), Charles H. (18), Louis B. (14), and John D. (10), the Whitneys had four servants and one boarder (a coachman). With the exception of Bessie and William, all of the children were in school. Bessie stayed at home, while William's profession is illegible on the census.

Image 2: 1881 Real Estate Map

Image 3, a real estate atlas from 1887, shows little change at Glenbrook Farm. One small barn or stable appears in the six years between the 1881 and 1887 atlases. The 1887 atlas does, however, list Glenbrook Farm at 87.5 acres.

Image 3: 1887 Real Estate Map

A Gopsill City Directory lists Whitney as having a house at 1224 Chestnut, and cites his profession as "treasurer".

Image 4, an 1896 real estate atlas, depicts minor change at Glenbrook Farm. The acreage falls from 87.5 to eighty-three, though one cannot easily determine where the property changed borders. The atlas lists a small building on the farm at "Tenement," where servants and workers on the farm likely resided.

Image 4: 1896 Real Estate Map

Image 5 depicts a real estate atlas from 1900. The atlas shows a significant change on the property, as it lists the owner as L.H. Smith. The yellow figures that have an "x" constitute frame stables or barns, while the brown buildings show stone or brick. Glenbrook has both yellow and brown, which suggests that additions were made to the house. A stone or brick building stood at the entrance to the property, perhaps serving as a gatehouse.

Though the real estate atlas shows that the property changed, the 1900 census lists as Whitney in Radnor and still living with his family. Seventy-one at the time, the census lists his profession as "author". Furthermoere, while John once worked as a farmer, the 1900 census lists the property as a "House", not farm. Based on his age, he probably passed away soon after the census. This would account for the change in the property in the 1900 atlas. He lived with his wife Mary and children William (a purchasing agent), Charles, Anna, and Frances (school teacher). The Whitneys had only one servant. Unforunately, the earliest deed for the property dates to 1947 and does not give insight into Glenbrook Farm's evolution.

Image 5: 1900 Real Estate Map

Boyd's 1908 City Directory lists John Lober as the president of the Vulcanite Portland Cement Co., though he did not have a house in the city. He would have likely commuted on the train each day.

Image 6 shows a real estate atlas from 1908. The owner has changed once again, as it lists John B. Lober. Also, Glenbrook appears to have an extension added to the back, which does not appear in the 1900 atlas. The total proerty falls to eight acres and looks as if it was half of the 1900 property. Other than Glenbrook, the gatehouse remains and two minimal frame structures.

The 1910 census lists John Lober, who was born in New Jersey, at sixty-two years old. He lived with his wife, Clara P. (59), a cousin William H. Rawle (73), and six servants. The census lists his industry as manufacturing, and at the time of the census the house was mortgaged.

Image 6: 1908 Real Estate Map

Image 7, a real estate atlas from 1920, shows the property change hands once again. It lists Stanley G. Flagg as the new owner. While the buildings on the property appear unchanged, Glenbrook Farms increased in size from eight to fourteen acres. The Glenbrook estate acquired these extra acres from Mrs. William G. Thomas, who lived across Bryn Mawr Ave., and had owned the property inbetween Glenbrook and Bryn Mawr Ave.

The 1920 census records list Flagg in Radnor. Flagg was 61 in 1920 and lived in Glenbrook with his wife Elizabeth W. (61), a son-in-law Anthony C. Geyelin (31), daughter Marie W. (29), and granddaughters Alice (4) and Elizabeth Geyelin (7). Stanley worked in the steel industry while his son-in-law worked in the ship business. Glenbrook also housed eight servants, among which there were two gardeners.

Boyd's 1920 City Directory cites Stanley as the president of Stanley G. Flagg & Co., which was located at 1407 Morris Ave. in Philadelphia. Like Lober, Flagg did not have a house in the city.

The 1930 census lists the same people living in Flagg's household, though the number of servants falls to six. The census also lists the house value at $180,000. Stanley had retired by 1930, as he reached the age of seventy. None of Stanley's relatives worked, though they kept, among the servants, a chauffeur and two butlers.

Image 7: 1920 Real Estate Map

The real estate atlases do not show any changes on the property until 1937, shown in Image 8. John L. Crawford, the new owner, acquired Glenbrook in addition to a neighboring property. The acreage in 1937 thus became twenty-five. As the neighboring property did not contain any buildings, the only new structure appeared in the form of a brick building on the border with Howard's property.

Image 8: 1937 Real Estate Map

Image 9 shows a real estate atlas from 1948. It lists Charles J. McIlvain as the owner, and the property lost the neighboring acres that Crawford had acquired. The atlas lists the acreage as just over nine and no new buildings appeared. Glenbrook remained unchanged as well. A deed from 1947 (1371-232) cites the passing of Glenbrook Farm from Margaret Jenkins, singlewoman, to McIlvain for the price of $12,000, though this does not appear consistent with the 1930 census valuation. Furthermore, it lists the acreage property at eleven acres. It notes that McIlvain previously lived on Old Gulph Road in Ardmore, PA. While the deed cites a previous deed, it does not list a deed book or deed number. It claims that the previous transaction occurred betweem A.C. Stevenson and Jenkins on October 7th, 1946.

Image 9: 1948 Real Estate Map

Image 10, a real estate atlas from 1961, depicts the end of Glenbrook. American College acquired the property, listed at nine acres, and constructed a building around the former Glenbrook site. McIlvain held onto a portion of his property, though only one acre.

Image 10: 1961 Real Estate Map



Ashmead, Graham. History of Delaware County. Philadelphia: L.H. Evans & Co., 1884.

Above book found online at

Hotchkin, Rev. S.F. Rural Pennsylvania: In the Vicinity of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: George Jacobs & Co., 1897.

King, Moses. Philadelphia and Notable Philadelphians. New York: Moses King, Publisher, 1902.

Townsend, J.W. The Old "Main Line". 1922.

Wilson Brothers & Co.: Civil Engineers, Architects, and Consulting Engineers. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1885.

Architectural Work of Wilson Bros. & Co. Philadelphia: Drexel Building, 1897.

Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide , v. 19, n. 19, p. 291, 5/11/1904

Above citation taken from Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Project

Real Estate Atlases taken from Lower Merion Historical Society

Delaware County Deeds found at Media Courthouse

Census data found at Mid Atlantic Regional Archives

Places in Time

Philadelphia City Directories are available at Haverford College Special Collections

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Image 2:, taken from Hotchkin

Additional Real Estate Atlases available at

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Last revised on 16 December 2005, MG Feedback