Wednesday, September 2

Save La Ronda

New Update: Thank you for all of your emails. The 'reported' new owner is Joseph D. Kestenbaum President and Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Marsh Hawk Capital Management, LLC. I can not confirm this to be true, only hearsay.

UPDATE - You can also email admin@savelarondanow.com Also an interesting article.

For months I have been following the fate of La Ronda, a Spanish Gothic mansion and the final work of architect Addison Mizner. Located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, La Ronda is a grand example of Mizner's work, not often found in the northeast. It seems that La Ronda is the latest victim of the tear-down-build-big-using-labor-saving- techniques trend, and I for one am just sick over this travesty.

The 18,000-square-foot mansion was sold by Arthur Kania this past March to a 'nameless' owner for $6 million. The current owner of La Ronda plans to demolish the historic mansion to make way for a contemporary home.

Yesterday a permit was handed over and demolition is set to begin in 30 days. Benjamin Wohl, a 41-year-old Florida developer offered the owner a 6 figure sum to buy the mansion and move it to another property, but the offer was refused.



Last week, the building's previous owner, Arthur Kania, emerged to claim inside salvage rights to the building. Kania, who retains salvage rights to the contents of La Ronda, will now begin removing valuable materials from the house. Please encourage Mr. Kania to negotiate a deal that would transfer his salvage rights to Benjamin Wohl. This may be the last hope for saving La Ronda.


To learn more visit the Save La Ronda website. I have no problem with someone building a new 'contemporary' home, but I do have a problem with destroying historic property. Perhaps, we as a community, can help in some small way. Direct comments to savelaronda@yahoo.com. All comments will be forwarded to Mr. Kania.

44 comments:

Erin Gates said...

Ronda- I too posted about this when I heard about it from a friend who used to live near La Ronda as a child and her grandfather's company actually had built it. There's been such an outcry of support for saving it, yet the new owners won't budge. It's so sad.

Chic Coles (Cole Design) said...

What is wrong with people? This is just to sad. Thank you for this post.

ALL THE BEST said...

Erin I remember...it's just too sad.

I wonder the same thing CC. In a time of encouraging other to reduce, reuse and recycle this make no sense to me.

Dagny @ Beautiful Living said...

Is this for real?? Can't the authorities stop it from happening? What idiot gave the new owners building permit? It's outrageous!

ALL THE BEST said...

Unfortunately it's very real and outrageous!

An Aesthete's Lament said...

The travesty here is ignorance, pure and simple. The owners wanted a piece of land and had no interest in the building on it. That being the case, once they were apprised of the situation, the history, and the architecture, they should have swiftly handed over the building to someone else to take apart and move elsewhere. Instead, stupidity reigns. And surely, by this time, how nameless can they be? People like this deserve to live in featureless condos.

ALL THE BEST said...

So true on many levels An Aesthete's Lament! Build your new home, fine! But WHY tear down a piece of history?!?

As for being 'nameless' -- I am wondering the same thing.

Cass @ That Old House said...

If they have gotten building permits for this land, they are no longer nameless; those things are public records, unfortunately those records sometimes take awhile to filter through the bureaucratic pipelines to become public.

Shame, shame, shame on the new owners of this property. Clearly they have far more money than sense or taste, and far more money than is good for them. If their "contemporary" is built, I hope it is riddled with problems and they never have a day's joy in it.

This is appalling. And once gone, a building like this can never be replicated.
Thanks for letting people know!
Cass

Tricia - Avolli said...

It is shocking to learn that not only individuals would be so thoughtless (and shallow quite frankly) but that community officials would not have marked this property for historic preseravation.

Shocking!

Tricia

ALL THE BEST said...

Shame and Shocking is right!

Pigtown-Design said...

Having been in the architectural salvage business for several years, I can tell you that this kind of thing is not uncommon. All we can hope is that much of the interior elements are salvaged. There are many companies that can surgically salvage pieces so that they can be reused somewhere else.

It's such a shame.

cassandra @ coco+kelley said...

how DEPRESSING! i just don't understand how someone wouldn't recognize the beauty of the building and want to preserve it - put your 'contemporary' inside if you have to, but tearing down that type of architecture? it happens entirely too much in the states... there seems to be no respect for the history these types of buildings have and the stories they tell. it's always about having something shiny and new.

Dagny @ Beautiful Living said...

Oh, I just looked at the pictures their website referred to on facebook, and they made me want to cry. It's just pure vandalism.

Caron said...

There are so many buildings that have been lost to the developer's wrecking ball that you think that more people would have evolved and gained an enlightened perspective about preservation. How can anyone concieve about tearing down a Mizner (or Alder, or Frank Lloyd Wright for that matter) building and breaking it up for salvage? The beauty and genius of groundbreaking architecture is in the postioning and effect of the complete work.
I don't begrudge the new owners choice of wanting a contemporary style home but they should be counseled that contemporary architecture is meaningful and aestheitcally sucessful only if it respects what came before. These new owners clearly do not grasp that concept of historical value and are seemingly fated to replace a masterpiece with a representation of their aggroagant and irreverant noveau riche aestheitc.
A true shame.

Brilliant Asylum said...

Just a warning to that homeowner: I am pretty sure Addison Mizner haunts the modern replacements of his razed historical masterpieces. Another Mizner building, The Cloister in Sea Island was torn down & replaced a few years ago. The hotel has had terrible luck ever since... http://tiny.cc/96akl

Amanda W said...

I can't believe that this beautiful building wasn't legally protected years ago! Those idiots should be ashamed of themselves. I don't see any reason why they won't allow someone to move the building, either way it's still gone and allows them to build their "contemporary" junk.

ABC Dragoo said...

This is absolutely disgusting.

There are millions of pieces of property that he could build his modern dwelling on. Why in a million years would you take down such a beautiful and architecturally significant piece of American design?

All I can think is that this person who plans to rip it down is completely full of himself.

The Consummate Hostess said...

This must be saved! I love Mizner's work and such a treasure as this unique home, we cannot tear it down! I am going to the website now. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Regina Joi said...

I have watched with HORROR as Philadelphia allows the dismantling of the BARNES FOUNDATION AND GARDENS, a gift to all to enjoy IN IT'S ORIGINAL ARCHITECTURAL SETTING and site.
I am a devotee of Architecture as "ART YOU LIVE IN"...I have restored Wallace Neff and Frank Lloyd Wright homes and sold to Madonna and Anthony Edwards and his wife Jeanine Lobel of STILA COSMETICS..Gwen Stefani and Lily Tomlin have consulted me and they ALL CHERISH HISTORICAL HOMES...This Mizner home is as important to our History of American Architecture as the Liberty Bell...it shows us what we have longed for, BEAUTY. A Venetian Dream built on the Mainline, what could get better than that...perhaps a Museum would be the better host if not someone with Style and Taste.
Money seems to buy Infamy now, why not Charm and Grace?

Shani said...

That is insane. And call me totally naive, but why would the new owner refuse to sell the building and have it moved? It certainly isn't the ideal fate for the building but certainly much better than turning it down?

Janet said...

It's tragic. I posted about it too. I wish something would happen to change the demolishion.

Blushing hostess said...

Rhonda. After House's last post and this, I worry, I really worry. The Frech always say of us that we've no appreciate for our own history and art as a culture... I have them to be right. I will go, of course I will, I missed erin's post on it or I would have sooner -thank you both.

Chichi and Luxe said...

it's a disgrace. it's not even protected under the township's Historic Resources Inventory.
But the fact that the owners refused the offer on the house is astounding!
i hope there is some sort of resolution.

Sanity Fair said...

ye gads!!! Are you serious? This building is exquisite! What soul-less drone thinks it will make a good office building? Or what arrogant architect thinks he can do better? What a travesty - "a thing of beauty is a joy forever," until the killjoys get it.

Heather @ what's blooming this week said...

What is wrong with people? Why would anyone in their right mind want to tear down such an exquisite building? If you don't like it, why buy it?
Unfortunately it's a sad statement of our society - replace the old with the new, damn the torpedoes and move ahead. We lost an exquisite Georgian mansion in our town last year because it was deemed "unrenovatable" by the powers that be. Now all that sits there is an empty lot waiting for the city to decide what monstrosity it will put up. Most of our downtown core has been demolished of it's original buildings to make way to office towers, most of which sit empty now.
What a shame if this building goes.

Renee Finberg said...

R-
that would NEVER happen in florida.
everything in palm beach county is named after him.
mizner this , mizner that......

it would immediately be marked a historical landmark. it would not be torn down, nor would it be permitted to change it in any way.

xx

CHANCE said...

We wanna visit to the beutiful place too!! So let's save it ;D

Ann said...

This is terrible. I live in LA where everyone buys and tears down homes. But growing up on the East Coast where history prevails - I cannot believe someone would buy this house to tear it down. If you have $6,000,000 to buy this property to tear it down - are you telling me you couldn't find another piece of land somewhere. Also, if you are tearing it down - why not donate it - and let the appropriate people take appart the house to preserve it's architectural integrity. I will for sure send an email and now the curiousity has the best of me - can someone post that address so I can see if I can figure out who owns this???

Rebecca@Harmony and Home said...

Hi Ronda, Thanks for alerting us to this tragedy. I, like the other commenters, feel like the new owners could give history its just due and at least let the offering party move the estate to another property. Where is the harm in that? I wonder if it is just because they don't want to be hassled with the move of the building or if they just don't give a damn. I thought the comment about Mizner coming back to haunt the property was funny! One voice can be strong, but many voices reverberate. Maybe if enough of us contact the authoritative parties something can be done about it.

Nina said...

I am appalled by this kind of disrespect towards history and architecture. Absolutely disgusted. I hope the site can be saved.
If not, my day shall be ruined.

Summer is a Verb said...

Such a heartbreaking shame...XXOO

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

Oh that ceiling, those windows....It just makes you want to weep.

Angie Muresan said...

That is sacrilegious! How is it that beauty isn't recognized anymore? A tragedy to those who are blind to it!

it jobs said...

Wow! This is a beautiful. such a pity to let this all goes to waste. Let’s help save this la Ronda.

manila homes for sale said...

It is indeed a tragic waste not to save this amazing place. Pleas support this. You will never regret it.

Elise said...

LOVE your header ! Hello, you have the most fabulously wonderful site here and I had to leave this comment for you ! Your posts are beautifully written, creative and original too, and you have interesting pictures.

It's all perfect !

Thank you for sharing your site and best wishes.... 'Happy September'....

ALL THE BEST said...

Thank you Elise! Happy September to you too!

Live In Full Color said...

What an amazing home and an even more amazing shame- restoration should win out...that ceiling alone leaves my head spinning!

Crying said...

I am so heartbroken over the way this is playing out. There is not much hope, it seems. I'd appreciate it if you would sign this petition:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/laronda/index.html

I'm not holding my breath, but I'm "holding the right thought."

Tahnk you!

jakubowski said...

I live less than 10 miles from Lower Merion, it is supposed to be a premier suburb of Philadelphia, but I avoid the place: residents complained and complained about the Barnes Museum being a nuisance in a residential neighborhood: this doesnt surprise me in the least: they will build 15 McMansions where La Rhoda stood: and the lower Merion residents will see it as an improvement over a dusty old building that doesnt even have central air...

Francine Gardner said...

This is such a sad fate and a case of money and no culture. I really do not want to sound like an intellectual elitist but I am appalled by such behavior, were someone would choose to destroy an historic mansion for the sole purpose of building his house. Can't he find land on which to build his ode to his great self...there is one thing money cannot buy....that is class or taste

dwelling and design said...

If the owners intentions were to have a new and modern home, why did they buy La Ronda in the first place? I'm sure there are people who would love to live in this historical residence, and take it off these idiots hands.

house plans said...

I definitely would have to agree with the title of this post. i don't think it is wise to tear down a beautiful structure like this one, it would be a real waste.

James@ Shed building said...

This is really sad if they continue the demolition of this mansion with historical value. What I can't understand why do the new owner refused the offer to move the mansion? I don't get it.