- The Washington Times - Monday, May 7, 2007


The sprawling estate of the wealthy family that inspired “The Philadelphia Story” is up for sale.

Ardrossan, named after the Montgomery ancestral home in Ayrshire, Scotland, has been a retreat for the privileged for nearly a century. Hope Montgomery Scott, the family head for most of that time, was the basis for Katharine Hepburn’s character in the 1940 Oscar-winning film, which also starred Cary Grant and James Stewart. Directed by George Cukor, the movie won two Academy Awards, including one for Mr. Stewart as best actor and another for David Ogden Stewart for best screenplay.

Edgar “Eddie” Scott III, spokesman for the family, told the Philadelphia Inquirer in Sunday’s editions that it was too early to talk about the price of the 360-acre estate, which he said would depend largely on what the buyer wanted to do with it.

For those interested in buying all or part of the estate, including the 50-room Georgian mansion, “now is the time to make the call,” said Mr. Scott, who is also a real-estate broker.

The family would prefer to see “a significant amount of open space retained,” he said.

Although about half of the original estate has been sold off or donated in recent years, it still has the largest contiguous block of undeveloped land in Radnor Township’s 14 square miles.

“I don’t think anybody could feel good about developing it,” Wayne-based developer Jason Duckworth said. “It’s one of the open-space gems on the Main Line.”

Persistent sale rumors — and visions of the land going to subdivisions — have surrounded the property for years.

“My grandmother used to make up the fact that it couldn’t be subdivided until 21 years after her death, or something like that, just to try to get people to stop asking her,” Mr. Scott said.

From the almost 800 acres assembled by 1909, 293 acres have been sold since 1997 to individual buyers, who have built 16 homes with three more planned. In 1970, the family conveyed 100 acres to Radnor Township for a park.

Mr. Scott said that indicates the family’s tendency “toward creative solutions that tend to be preservation-oriented. … We’ll rest on our track record,” he said.

Family members have said they will demand fair market value for the land, Mr. Scott adds. The property is held in two trusts, and analysts say the trusts would have a legal obligation to base a sale decision on financial considerations.

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