Demolition Watch: Heidelberg Kerlin Farm

Demolition Watch: Heidelberg Kerlin Farm

photo courtesy Fred Moore (

Distressing news from Cheltenham Township: unless an angel buyer steps forward by week’s end, one of the oldest houses in the state of Pennsylvania will be demolished. The Heidelberg Kerlin Farm dates to the earliest period of European settlement in the region, with portions of the existing stone and brick farmstead dating to the 1680s. Writes local historian Bruce Conner, “It would be difficult to stand in a place which more completely describes the settlement and growth of a particular place over the course of three centuries,” with additions constructed in 1790, 1850, and 1898. Two-hundred-year-old trees grace the 7.5-acre property, including the largest Sweetgum in the state.

The property was included on the Preservation Alliance’s 2004 Endangered Properties List. Well-maintained until the 1980s, it has spent the last two decades slowly crumbling.  Its last owner suffered from dementia in an Iowa nursing home, and earlier this year, the property sold for $400,000 to satisfy a $68,000 nursing home debt. The developer who bought it plans to raze the site by Christmas, but will entertain $500,000 offers until Friday.

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UPDATE 12/30/10: Demolition plans are on hold for a potential new buyer. Read the encouraging news here on Plan Philly.


  1. Reply


    There are ghost in this building. I have seen photos from inside taken in the early 2000?/. In some you found orbs and different lights. In others you can see outline of people and it was not just one type or time period, They were of all races, ages and centuries. Believe it or not, I know what I saw.

  2. Reply

    Marita Krivda

    This historic farm house can not be demolished. It is a surviving relic of the early property owners from the late 1600s who got their land grant from William Penn. It had close ties with local Quaker families including the Haines Family of Awbury Arboretum and Wyck fame – it has close ties to Philadelphia History.
    It could be restored and provide a local site for historic tours and a place for local Cheltenham history.
    I have just worked on a book published on Oak Lane and there are definite connections between early Milestown current East Oak Lane and this area.

    Marita Krivda Poxon

  3. Reply

    T Michael Poxon

    This 7.5 acre farm lies in the heart of Melrose Park at the intersection of Ashbourne Rd and Oak Lane Road, across the street from the Ashbourne Country Club. With careful restoration, this home could look like Stenton Mansion, Laurel Hill Mansion or Woodford Mansion in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. It would represent a wonderful draw to Montgomery County to visit a historic house. OR it could represent the home of a local Sports Star, Media Mongul or Entrepreneur. The specimin trees on this property should also be preserved. It has so many wonderful uses. In SCOTLAND it is illegial to knock down any stone wall; they must be integrated into any restoration so that history is preserved. We should do the same here. History has a value that should not be overlooked. People visit Philadelphia for that very reason. This property should be added to the limited inventory of historical properties in the region. Add in a new garden and you can see that flower and garden clubs would want to visit, from the UK or elsewhere. Contact newly hired sports millionairs and see if this home would work for them. A careful restoration will further enhance their reputation. In fact, the owners of the sports teams should insist that new athletes help restore such homes and move to such fine communities as this.

  4. Reply

    Chris Kenney

    I was raised in Oak Lane Manor in the 50’s. I caddied at Ashbourne CC and also worked on the grounds while in college and high school. 1965-1973. I can remember when the adjoining property was owned and farmed by the Longstreth family and a produce stand sold corn and other fresh vegetables in the 50’s! The piece was part of old Cheltenham nursery run by the Haines family. It is a disgrace that we spend $840 billion stimulus on pork and not 1 dime to save one of the most historically significant buildings in the country!

  5. Reply

    marie valoris

    To All…

    I agree with everyone’s comments. What an interesting place! What treasures lie underneath and around the house? What would we find if we pealed the walls of the house to the bare? There are over 300 years worth of history sitting close to my back yard. Why would we want destroy that? Cheltonians need to be creative. Make the farm a positve for all ages. Do you think we have enough apartments, rentals and houses waiting to be sold? I have spent the last 7 years feeding retired racehorses that live quietly in the back. Now that pleasure has been taken away from me. Now, I can just look forward to wondering how I’ll be able to handle the congestion of all the additional cars when Ashbourne is finished. I Would be glad to hand out flyers on the history of the land. Hopefully, enlightening people and asking interested new people to come up with more ideas that would help our taxes go down or stay status quo and continue to enjoy this treasure in our township.

    marie v

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