Monday, August 26 2019 1:02

Former Padua Estate

Written by Laurel Anderson

From captains of industry to presidents and politicians, cardinals and bishops, to several families, Padua Estate has welcomed them all.


“If walls could talk!” says the owner of this historic hilltop country estate nestled between the Brandywine Creek and Longwood Gardens. The hundred-year-old property has stories to tell, and the former name, Padua Estate, hints at only one chapter.

When the current owner shares how she came to live here, she shakes her head. “My husband accidently came to visit. He was looking for green space—for hunting and fishing,” she says. She, however, was not interested.

But she went inside, up the stunning floating staircase to one of two master suites on the second floor (another’s on the first floor!). Opening the French doors, she walked out on the large balcony and fell in love with the view.

“The pond, the forest. It was paradise,” she remembers. And after a more careful look around, she discovered astonishing architectural details at every turn.

So she lived there for 40 years, replacing Colonial furnishings with European elegance and creating a spectacular home for entertaining politicians and guests from around the world. This cosmopolitan setting became a regular venue for fundraisers of all kinds—medical causes a special interest. It also became an expansive family home and the site of weddings—one with multiple outdoor tents, 570 guests and a seven-course dinner.


A Little History

This grand style of entertaining harkens back to an earlier chapter and the original owners, the Chandlers (remembered by nearby Chandler Road), a wealthy New York family that built this country estate in 1920—think the opulence and gaiety of the roaring ‘20s, with house parties spilling out on the balconies, terraces and expansive lawn. Magnificent grounds housed rose gardens, a tennis court and Olympic-size swimming pool for those not hunting, fishing or riding in the country.

After a decade, as the owner recounts, the Chandlers were moved to give back, specifically by donating the property to the Catholic Church. Changes were made to accommodate the priests and nuns who came. Stations of the Cross were built in the rose garden, a chapel took over the living room (stained glass windows remain), and a large statue was installed of St. Anthony of Padua, patron saint of lost property. For several decades clergy from around the world came here to recharge.

Later two other families, before the current owner, enjoyed country life as caretakers of this luxurious home situated on 32 acres.


The Home

Impressive iron gates mark the entrance to the estate with hilltop views of southern Chester County from the magnificent manor house, together with an attached four-bedroom apartment, two-car detached garage and two separate houses for guests or rental.

Balconies, Palladian windows and French doors adorn the exterior as period details, intricate moldings (some with gold leaf) and dramatic ceilings accent the interior. The formal foyer in the center of the main house—from front entry to back terrace—boasts a unique floating main staircase. It’s a space perfect for grand entrances and large receptions.

To the left is the stunning formal living room—former chapel—with large center fireplace, mirrored French doors (with stained glass) and beamed mahogany ceiling. An elegant sitting room and library flank the hallway.

To the right of the foyer are the formal dining room, with fireplace, more French doors and butler’s pantry, along with a newer addition with spacious family room (skylights, gas fireplace, French doors to the terrace) and first-floor master suite (tray ceiling, double closets, large bathroom).

A large two-level kitchen—with black granite counters, large pantry, prep kitchen—makes family living and entertaining equally easy. A mudroom and entrance to the partially finished basement round out this level.

Dual ensuite master bedrooms, with balcony access, are on the spacious second floor. An additional ensuite bedroom, two more bedrooms with Jack-and-Jill bathroom, home office, and full bath are down the hall. Near the back stairs are two more rooms—useful as sitting room, au pair’s room—and a full bath.

The third floor is comprised of three bedrooms, a full bath and large laundry room. Ample space for a multigenerational family or large house parties.


The Grounds

Mature plantings grace the grounds and frame the views the owner fell in love with. A large flagstone terrace extends across the back of the main house—another entertainment space—overlooking the terraced back lawn, leading to the newer pool and the Olympic-sized pool (now koi pond).

Wander through the former rose garden and observe the Stations of the Cross as you contemplate the stories of this property—also said to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad.

For over 40 years the owner, three generations of family and guests from around the world enjoyed Padua Estate’s beauty, richness and history.

What will its next chapter be?


For more information about this gracious historic home—plus 4-bedroom attached apartment, 2-car garage and 2 additional rental houses—on 32 acres (can be subdivided) in Pennsbury Township (Chadds Ford/Unionville schools), contact Karen Nader, 484-888-5597, at Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty; [email protected]. Price upon request.