Appeal, No. 235, Jan. T., 1960, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, March T., 1959, No. 1313, in re appeal of Joseph L. Gage, Sr. and Georgie A. Gage from decision of Board of Adjustment of Township of Radnor. Order affirmed.
Robert B. Greer, with him Robert W. Beatty, and Butler, Beatty, Greer & Johnson, for appellant.
Robert E. Porter, with him Greenwell, Porter, Smaltz & Royal, for appellees.
Before Jones, C. J., Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Eagen, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO.
The appellant in this case is attempting to restrain the passing of a way of private habitation which, for better or for worse, is now rapidly disappearing from the face of residential America. Hardly anyone is building any more the large, ornate, magnificent mansions which for three quarters of a century preceding the outbreak of World War II were the inevitable manifestation of great wealth, affluence and high industrial or even governmental position. The locus in quo in this litigation has to do with just that kind of an estate.
Robert K. Cassatt owned at the turn of the 20th century an 150-acre tract in what is now Radnor Township, Delaware County. Here he built a sumptuous residential palace. In 1928 he built for his son another imposing home, smaller than the paternal domicile, but
imposing in its own right. Constructed of finely finished stone, two and a half stories high, containing a total of 25 rooms, including 7 bedrooms and 7 baths, with sweeping staircases and landscaped yards, it now stands about 100 feet from the Wyldhaven Road, from which it is screened by wide-spreading trees and flowering shrubbery.
With the advent of high and ever-heightening taxes, elevated costs for servants, gardeners, valets and other domestic help, and with the growing tendency to less lavish domiciliary display of great wealth, the Cassatt estate began to undergo considerable change. A tract of ten acres was carved out of the estate and, with the original mansion, was sold to a Presbyterian Society as a home for aged persons. Several cottages sprang up around the mansion, the entire curtilage holding accommodations for sixty persons.
In 1951 the Cassatt, Jr. mansion, with eight acres of land, was sold to Dr. Chas. A. Rankin, who in 1957 sold it and five acres to a Mr. and Mrs. Hauserman, who in turn conveyed it to Joseph S. Gage and Georgie A. Gage,*fn* who intend to turn the property into a convalescent home.
The remainder of the original Cassatt estate was purchased by the Plymouth Woods Corporation, which plans to build on the land 100 houses, selling from $35,000 to $55,000 each. Plymouth Woods seeks to prevent the Gages from using their property for a convalescent home. Plymouth sees in this commercialization of the handsome residential showpiece a depressing of ...