Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bloomfield to be Restored

While other Gilded Age mansions fight uphill battles towards preservation, two home owners plan to restore one many thought was lost.

Renovated by Horace Trumbauer with grounds designed by the Olmstead Brothers, Bloomfield in Villanova was destroyed by a fire in 2012.

After a year of Philadelphian litigiousness aimed at the property's residents, Julie Charbonneau and Dean Topolinski, finally ended, they have decided to restore Bloomfield.

With an $11M settlement, Charbonneau and Topolinski could have easily walked away from the tragedy, razed the ruins, and subdivided the desirable address.

However Charbonneau, native to Montreal, fell in love with Bloomfield the moment she saw it, never expecting to find a house this, well, French in America.

Her love for her Bloomfield has weathered the devastating fire, leading her to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania where she unearthed Trunbauer's orginal drawings of her house, allowing her to restore every detail of the original mansion using as much that remains as possible.

She's even employed D. Robert “Bob” Farrow, grandson on the man who built the house, as one of the carpenters working on the restoration. Farrow is even trying to locate the original plans for the house.

With carpenters enduring arduous tasks that haven't been employed since the 1920s, Charbonneau's ambition stands to challenge the region's notion of disrepair.

What's more, while the region's wealthy residents tear down perfectly livable landmarks like La Ronda to build their own Xanadu, Charbonneau's respect for the history challenges the American notion that land owners have the right to eradicate history just because they sit on a boat load of cash.

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