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Woodcrest was the home of two great Philadelphia fortunes. The original owner, James W. Paul, the favored son-in-law of financier Anthony J. Drexel, led the Drexel Company in the development of the entire Wayne/Strafford area. He then acquired several hundred acres himself and built Woodcrest, where he lived until his death. In 1925, it was acquired by John T. Dorrance, whose leadership made Campbell Soups of Camden a national product. In 1954, it was acquired by a Roman Catholic Order, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and has evolved from an orphanage to a liberal arts college named for Mother Cabrini, the first citizen Saint within the U.S.A.
Cabrini College is 112 acres and is a Catholic-affiliated, co-educational liberal arts college, nationally recognized for its values-based and service-oriented curriculum. The original architecture is unique, representing a classic work of art and engineering by Horace Trumbauer. The estate represents a very affluent period in the history of the U.S., when wealth contributed to the definition of a future economy for a growing nation. The estate passed from financial fortune to one made in trade. An entire culture evolved from this life-style, which promoted a celebration of the finest, be it in art or industry.
The campus represents one of Philadelphia's great country estates and is a microcosm of the history of the Main Line. The estate's landscape was developed by James W. Paul's nephew, Oglesby Paul, a well-known regional landscape architect. The main driveways are lined with boulders and wind graciously through mature woodlands, passing the spring house, gate house and carriage house, all representing the material and stylistic themes of the Manor House and proudly announcing the grandeur about to be encountered.
Though somewhat altered, the original estate still serves as the spine for this educational body. It is appealing, restful, and well-ordered, and lends itself extremely well to reflection and the pursuit of knowledge. As with all great estates, it was designed to be enlightening and enjoyed by many. That theme continues to permeate this learning culture, and the communities it involves are reverent and appreciative of its significance. The College's master planning process remains respectful of the fact that few estates of this size have found such an appropriate contemporary use, and it continues to seek ways to preserve this great heritage.
Kathrens, Michael C. American Splendor: The Residential Architecture of Horace Trumbauer. New York: Acanthus Press, 2002.
Morrison, William. The Main Line Country Houses, 1870-1930. New York: Acanthus Press, 2002.
Selected papers and photographs about The Mansion. Archives, Cabrini College, Radnor, PA.