History of the Philadelphia Main Line

The Main Line community is almost entirely unique in its picturesque beauty. In few other areas of America can you see a line of wonderful, close-knit small towns that are flourishing rather than floundering. Understanding why the Main Line is so special and why it continues to prosper today takes a bit of delving into history.

What Makes the Main Line Different

Pennsylvania’s Main Line may seem like an anomaly. Compared to most other suburban areas, it was not made from gradual sprawl or deliberate placement of suburban communities just off of major highways.

The principle reason for this difference is technology: the Main Line grew as an extension of Philadelphia thanks to a strategically-placed railroad system that economically linked Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

While this happened far back in the 19th century, most other suburban communities formed around the 1950s following the development of Eisenhower’s highway system. After the construction of highways and the rise of automobile ownership, wealthy and middle class residents almost literally funneled out of urban communities and began the early process of sprawl. As a result, many of America’s largest cities saw their peak population at or around 1950.

The Importance of the Main Line Railroad

The Pennsylvania Railroad company (PRR) began a massive Main Line of Public Works project in 1826. Business had begun to flow around Pennsylvania because of the B&O Railroad and the completion of the Erie Canal. To try to keep the commercial activity moving through Philadelphia, the PRR constructed a series of rail lines beginning in Philadelphia and traveling through a major station in Pittsburgh to as far west as Chicago.

Later in the 19th century, the PRR decided to make good use of all the land they owned along the tracks. They positioned many stops at two mile intervals from Philadelphia to Merion to Paoli and everywhere in between. The land around these areas was advertised as the perfect place for Philadelphia’s wealthiest elites to build sprawling estates in the countryside. To create their summer getaways, affluent families constructed luxury homes in Wayne, Devon, Ardmore and other areas of the Main Line.

Growth and Suburbanization

Over time, the summer visitation of wealthy Philadelphians attracted other businesses and vendors to the area. As Philadelphia continued to grow, many families started to take up more permanent residence in the areas. Schools, churches and recreational facilities were built to accommodate their needs and interests. The Merion Cricket Club and Villanova University were both established around this time, as was the first incarnation of the Hotel Wayne.

Moving forward into the 20th century, the early spread of automobiles allowed Main Line rail station settlements to grow into full-blown communities. Business men who would work in Philadelphia would have their families reside at home in places like Media.

A number of preparatory academies were established at this time, as were suburban entertainments. Theaters were built in Newtown and Bala Cynwyd, and the Suburban Square shopping center opened up in 1928. These businesses were some of the first of their kind to be opened outside of major urban areas.

After World War II, the Main Line saw an increase in suburban residents just like the rest of the country. Unlike other cities around places like Chicago, St. Louis or Los Angeles, these communities already had organized city squares, neighborhoods and services. The commuter rail system also ran, as it continues to today. These amenities help allow the Main Line to preserve some of its historical character as opposed to becoming an area laden with enormous roads and strip malls.

Come see for yourself how the Main Line’s vibrant history has colored how the community feels today. Main Line residents enjoy the best of both worlds thanks to a relative seclusion among tree-lined streets that are still nearby major commercial areas like Philadelphia, Conshohocken and the King of Prussia Mall.

We would love to have you stay and add to our collage of passionate, caring neighbors. Take a look at our luxury Main Line home listings to find your own permanent place in our wonderful community.

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In-Depth Community Real Estate Overview: Devon

Devon is one of the older suburban communities on the Main Line. It is famed for its annual horse show but also holds many other places of note within its tiny borders of less than a square mile. A small population of 1,500 people lives in the community, adding to around 5,000 total when you include the nearby area of Berwyn.

The majority of Devon residents work in high-paying jobs in or around Philadelphia. A SEPTA commuter rail station is located conveniently close to Lancaster Avenue and Devon Park. There are also plenty of nearby main roads to quickly take you to areas like Conshohocken, Villanova or the King of Prussia Mall.

Overall, Devon has access to some of the best schools on the Main Line and is located conveniently in the middle of many major points of interest — in addition to having more than a few of its own.

Things to Do in Devon

Devon’s largest claim to fame is its annual horse show. The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair is the largest and oldest outdoor multi-breed horse show in the country. Every year, hundreds of competitors and thousands of spectators come to Devon. The event is televised and constitutes an important element of the horse showing and racing season.

A country fair accompanies the horse show as well. Kids love the carnival food, games and rides. Adults get to enjoy the boutique shopping experience offered by the vendors. Specialty fashion items, gifts and gourmet foods are all available for sale.

Another big draw in Devon is the Jenkins Arboretum. Dedicated to the memory of his wife, H. Lawrence Jenkins opened the area to the public as a park, arboretum and wildlife sanctuary in 1968. Most of the species on display are rhododendrons and azaleas, which erupt into vibrant blooms every spring.

There are a few business clustered around Lancaster Highway, but the best shopping in Pennsylvania is available less than five miles away at the King of Prussia Mall. This massive shopping center is home to many luxury and boutique stores in addition to the typical mall businesses.

Devon’s Excellent Schools

Another claim to fame for Devon is Conestoga High School. While Conestoga is located in Berwyn, residents of Devon live within the school’s boundaries.

Conestoga boasts the second-highest average SAT score in the state, and it has a nearly 100 rate of graduating students who advance to postsecondary education. The school is rich in extracurricular activities, such as its lacrosse team that has made the championship game six years in a row, and the award winning, student-run Stoganews.com website.

The entire Tredyffrin/Easttown School District is filled with excellent public schools in addition to Conestoga High, including Devon Elementary and Tredyffrin/Easttown Middle. If you value a private education, there are five private pre-K and kindergarten schools within a mile, and Devon Preparatory School for Boys has been a prestigious institution in operation for over a century.

Living in Devon

Over half of Devon residents are married couples, and a third of all households are raising children under the age of 18. The per capita income is around $55,000 a year, equating to a little over $220,000 for the average family of four. More than half of the adult residents have earned four year degrees and just under 90 percent of them are employed in salaried jobs.

There are plenty of large and beautiful luxury homes for sale in Devon. The area boasts historical properties, homes built throughout the 20th century and newly-built properties.

The median home sales price is $535,000 and the average listing price was a remarkable $1,000,889 as of February 4, 2015. The average price is likely driven up by the presence of many sprawling estates with five or more bedrooms throughout the town.

To find a wonderful home in Devon to raise your children and enjoy one of the most famous Country Fairs in the region, take a look at our luxury Devon listings today.

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Winter Real Estate: The Pros and Cons of Selling Before Spring

Even though many real estate agents will insist on selling your house in spring, there are plenty of convincing arguments saying that winter has its fair share of advantages. When looking at certain criteria, months like December and February actually have some of the highest real estate sales activity.

Still, there are a lot of great reasons that spring is traditionally the most popular month for listing. The decision to wait until the spring to sell depends entirely on your situation and what you want to get out of your home sale. To help make up your mind, here are some of the cases for and against listing in winter:

The Case for a Winter Sale

According to a recent L.A. Times article, winter sales are not nearly as tepid as many people think. Businesses often relocate or hire new employees at the start of the new year who will want to secure a new home as quickly as possible.

This motivation can make buyers a lot more productive and a lot more flexible. They are less likely to feel the need to negotiate or nitpick things about a house. As one real estate broker expert put it, people viewing homes around this time, “are serious buyers. Most people are not window-shopping.”

Additionally, since inventory is usually lower, there is less competition from other sellers. Data shows that December sales in particular post the highest percentage of home sales that close over the initial asking price.

February is also a remarkable month for sales — 66 percent of homes listed in February were sold within 90 days. Since the official spring selling season is not considered to start until March 20, this statistic indicates that getting an early start before other spring listings can put you ahead of the pack in terms of viewers and offers.

The Case for Waiting Until Spring

Overall, there are far more buyers looking during the spring and much more inventory for them to peruse. While having more competition is usually a bad thing, it does also mean that people have a clearer view of the market. A home that is priced fairly and shows well will stand out among others in the spring rush.

You will also see a wider variety of buyers in the spring. Many people, especially people with children, are planning on relocating in the summer so that they can be fully adjusted before fall. More buyers means a better likelihood of discovering the right buyer who is willing to pay the right price.

Another reason real estate sales spike in the spring is that spring typically has the nicest, most moderate weather of the year. People are anxious to get out of the house and stretch their legs, and visiting other homes can actually be a recreational experience on a nice day.

Nice weather means the home will likely show better, too. Your yard will spring back to life, and light will easily penetrate all the corners of your home that were in the shadows during the short winter days.

Making the Choice

As stated before, your decision will come down to your personal needs. If you want to sell your home fast to a motivated buyer, winter is a highly favorable selling season. If you want to try and get the best price by having your home look at its peak, you may need to wait for the more blissful days of spring.

However, keep in mind that stiff competition can make the flaws in your home all the more glaring. This fact means you will likely require heavier investment in upgrades or curb appeal to meet the pickier expectations of spring buyers.

Either way, both seasons are more comparable than many think. Even if you want to hesitate until nicer weather sets in, you may as well get your home ready to sell to take advantage of the early hunters on the spring market.

For help getting your home ready to list and determining the right asking price, take a look at our real estate services and then fill out our convenient contact form. We will respond as quickly as we can with expert advice and recommendations for your luxury Wayne homes for sale.

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In-Depth Community Real Estate Profile: Ardmore

Ardmore is a town of around 12,400 people located northwest of Downtown Philadelphia. The area is split between Haverford Township in Delaware County to the south and Lower Merion Township in Montgomery County to the north.

The area is extremely popular for young families and single workers who have high-paying jobs in nearby areas. Ardmore is also close to several colleges and universities including Haverford, Villanova, Bryn Mawr and St. Joseph’s. This fact means that there are a number of businesses catering to young people and many people in the community who work in the educational field.

Demographics in Ardmore

Like the rest of the Main Line, Ardmore is an affluent suburban community. The presence of the convenient commuter rail and the close proximity of Philadelphia means that many residents work in white-collar jobs. In fact, 93 percent of people in Ardmore have salaried jobs with most people working in management, sales or teaching.

While the Main Line is not nearly as diverse as areas like Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, Ardmore does possess a larger amount of racial diversity than most other Main Line communities. There is a significant number of African-American families living in Ardmore, many of whom are wealthy lineages who have lived in the area for generations. Asian and Latino/Hispanic people also make up a sizeable portion of the population, bringing the total percentage of minority residents to just over a fifth of the whole population.

Women also have a stronger presence in Ardmore than in many cities or towns throughout the US. The gender gap for median incomes is over six percent lower than the national average. Furthermore, over 10 percent of all households were owned or rented by women with no husbands. Both of these facts are hardly cause for major celebration but nevertheless indicate signs of progress.

Living in Ardmore

A strong community pride exists in Ardmore. There are four different community organizations that together host community events and fundraisers all year round. Events like Ardmore’s family-oriented Oktoberfest celebration draw people from all across the Main Line and southeast Pennsylvania.

The Ardmore Progressive Civic Association in particular helps oversee the historic Ardmore Post Office and Ardmore Public Library as well as the Ardmore Ice Skating Club, a public swimming pool, two senior housing projects and a community center known as the “Shack.”

Ardmore also has one of the oldest shopping centers in the world. Suburban Square first opened in 1928 and is located adjacent to the Ardmore train station. The shopping center allowed Ardmore to become one of the first suburban areas in the world to receive a branch of a major department store. Today, Suburban Square still boasts many high-end boutique shops such as an Apple Store, Williams & Sonoma and Kate Spade.

One thing that Ardmore could surely boast about is its schools. The Lower Merion High School in the north side of town, for example, is consistently recognized for its high SAT averages and quality of education. The school’s notable alumni include the likes of Kobe Bryant, five-time NBA champion, two-time MVP and holder of numerous records.

Luxury Homes for Sale in Ardmore

Ardmore residents live in some of the most enviable real estate in the country. The easy access to commuter lines, walkable neighborhoods and affluent community creates a high demand for luxury properties. The average listing price was $512,000 and the median sales price was $400,000 as of January 15, 2015. Many of the homes have pre-World War II architecture and historic charm while others were built quite recently according to the most modern standards.

No matter your preference, there are plenty of gorgeous luxury homes for sale in Ardmore worth fawning over. Take a look at our Ardmore luxury home listings to find one that you will surely adore.

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The Best of the Best: A Look at Main Line Schools

If there is one thing the Main Line is not short on, it is educational opportunities. The area is brimming with some of the best colleges, private high schools and public schools in the nation. We also happen to have an extremely high percentage of residents who have attained a bachelor’s degree or higher.

In short, Main Line people are smart and their kids only get smarter every year. Any one of our schools or school districts boasts standardized test grades and graduation rates that are well above the national average.

To give you a better look at our schools, here is a list of ones that top their own respective categories:

Best Public High School – Conestoga High School, Berwyn

Conestoga was ranked Pennsylvania’s #1 high school in 2012, and it consistently ranks in the U.S. News and World Report‘s annual list of the best high schools in America.

They had the second-highest average SAT score in all of Pennsylvania schools in 2014. A full 96 percent of all students go on to attend colleges and universities. Every year, they send at least one student to an Ivy League school and other prestigious universities like MIT, Duke and Johns Hopkins.

Another unique feature of Conestoga is their Stoganews.com website. It is one of the only student-produced news websites in the nation that updates daily. They have won several awards for their journalistic efforts, including Gold and Silver Crowns from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.

As if all this were not enough, they also have a great lacrosse team that has gone to the PIAA State Championship game every single year since the title began.

Runner Up: Lower Merion High School, Ardmore

Best Private School – Baldwin School, Bryn Mawr

An all-girls school founded in 1888, Baldwin has been a staple of girls’ education on the Main Line for over a century. The all-girls independent school now occupies a Victorian-era resort hotel designed by architect Frank Furness. The building itself has become a Main Line landmark and was inducted to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

“Miss Baldwin’s School for Girls” was a preparatory school founded in a time when education for women was still frowned upon. It began in a wing of Miss Florence Baldwin’s mother’s house before moving to its current location in the former hotel.

Now, over a quarter of the student body earns a National Merit Scholarship or moves on to attend an Ivy League school every year. The school also tends to develop a high percentage of graduates that go on to major or work in fields related to science or mathematics, a rate that is usually a third higher than the national average.

There is also a flourishing arts program, with an award-winning chorus team, a full-sized theater, a ceramics studio and a rare etching machine similar to the one Rembrandt used.

Runner Up: The Haverford School, Haverford

Best High School Sports – Malvern Preparatory School, Malvern

Nothing gets the blood pumping like a competitive high school sports team. Plenty of parents all over the nation love nothing more than to see their pride and joys excel on the playing field.

Malvern Prep. boys’ Catholic high school was founded in 1842 partially on the site of Villanova University. The school eventually moved to Malvern, and its original property boundaries included the Revolutionary War site of the Paoli Massacre.

The sports teams at Malvern consistently rank as the top in Pennsylvania. The Inquirer usually lists the school in its top 10 high school football programs every year, and the AAA Varsity hockey team won the Flyers Cup five years in a row from 2001-2005.

Notable alumni include New York Giants second string quarterback Ryan Nassib and Atlanta Braves second baseman Philip Gosselin.

Runner Up: Shipley School, Bryn Mawr

These schools show that families who move to the Main Line have lots of ways to provide their children with a rich education full of opportunities and extracurricular experiences. To find one of the luxury homes in Bryn Mawr or anywhere else on the Main Line to call your own, take a look at our local Main Line listings.

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In-Depth Community Real Estate Profile: Lower Merion Township

Lower Merion Township is a large area encompassing many smaller Main Line neighborhoods. It lies just west of Downtown Philadelphia, across the Schuylkill River and over Pennsylvania Highway 1. The township includes some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in all of Pennsylvania, including Bala Cynwyd, Ardmore, Gladwyne, Villanova, Haverford and Merion Station.

Lower Merion’s close proximity to the important economic areas of Philadelphia and Conshohocken are further bolstered by its idyllic sense of suburban comfort. Tree-lined streets, parks, sidewalks and natural vistas are easy to find throughout the area, even though it is essentially bordered by some of the region’s busiest business districts.

Attractions in Lower Merion

The area around Lower Merion offers a diverse amount of attractions and services. One of the most abundant of these amenities is natural beauty. There are more than 12 parks in Lower Merion, including Rolling Hill park, which is chock full of scenic walks through nature trails and historic structures.

Located in Gladwyne, the Philadelphia Country Club offers a different kind of natural appreciation. The facility boasts two premier golf courses, multiple restaurants, facilities for squash and a robust event calendar all year round.

For more family-oriented fun, visit the Wynnewood Lanes or the Ardmore Ave pool. There are also multiple shops and high-quality restaurants at Suburban Square, one of the America’s earliest shopping centers.

Living in Lower Merion

The township has a population of 59,000 people. Lower Merion is a particularly affluent area with the median household income for a family being $148,000.

Over half of the residential population are married couples living together, and just under a third had a child under the age of 18 living with them. In fact, over a fifth of Lower Merion’s population consists of children under the age of 18.

There happens to be so many kids because Lower Merion is an especially great place to raise a family. Part of the reason stems from the award-winning Lower Merion School District. All of the system’s nine schools have won the National Blue Ribbon Award for Excellence in Education at one time or another. Lower Merion also ranks as the wealthiest school district in Pennsylvania and amongst the top wealthiest in the country.

Many notable people have been raised in Lower Merion and graduated from its esteemed school system. These people include basketball player Kobe Bryant, country singer Patti LaBelle, soul singer Teddy Pendergrass and film director M. Night Shyamalan.

Just because families love Lower Merion does not mean that bachelorettes and bachelors will not. In September of 2014 Time magazine ranked the township as number two of the “Best Places to Be Rich and Single” in the US.

Luxury Homes for Sale in Lower Merion

Because of the proximity of great schools and a generally wealthy population, Lower Merion luxury homes for sale are some of the finest in the nation. All of its historic neighborhoods have walkable streets and quick access to commuter roads or light rail stations. The median home value is $600,000.

To find a luxury home of your own in one of Lower Merion’s many wonderful communities, take a look at our Lower Merion real estate listings.

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Historical Haverford Carriage House Renovated

The Carriage House has long been one of the Main Line’s most historic and character-rich homes. Unfortunately, the property had a layout that was dated by almost a century.

Property investor Mac Brand sought to remedy that. She poured over a million dollars into giving the home a modern face lift, albeit one that completely preserved its historic nature. They knocked down walls and moved stairwells to get the house to a modern livable standard without tarnishing what gave the property so much personality in the first place.

Last Building Standing

The history of the Haverford Carriage House goes back all the way to 1872. Back then, Pennsylvania railroad president and wealthy magnate Alexander Johnston Cassatt had completed the construction of his majestic estate. Named Cheswold, the estate consisted of a massive Victorian Gothic mansion surrounded by his 54 acre grounds.

In 1902, his daughter Eliza and her husband added to the grounds with a sprawling bungalow complex. Two years later, they had completed the stable and carriage house.

Tragedy struck in 1935 when the mansion and bungalow all but burnt to the ground. A developer demolished what remained in 1950.

However, the carriage house lingered behind. Its secret? Three courses of solid brick. “It couldn’t burn,” asserts Brand, adding that this fact makes “insurance companies very happy.”

Breathing Life Into An Old Soul

When Brand and her husband saw that the property was up for sale, they immediately fell in love. The 8,100 square foot home had a red slate roof, a bedroom located in a tower, arched windows and a private courtyard. Best of all, the quaint Tudor-influenced home was made even more charming by being adjacent to an idyllic stream and a pond.

History, the home’s greatest asset, also happened to be its partial curse. The ground floor was compartmentalized into tiny rooms and parlors. To give the home a more open layout, brand began a series of massive renovations. For more than a year the property was under construction, but the results were well worth it.

The new kitchen boasted an island, a wine cooler, double ovens and a gas Wolf range. Looking out on the kitchen, you could see the family room and a wide view of the grounds through the ample windows.

Speaking of windows, Brand went through great trouble to bring modern comfort without sacrificing the all-important character. Each window was constructed in divided glass panels, known as “divided light” windows. Brand had the panes painstakingly custom crafted and replaced so that she could have energy-efficient glass with an authentic historical look.

She and her husband even had the Carriage House’s prized griffin weather vane replicated in copper and gold since the original was stolen.

One of the Best Luxury Homes in Haverford

Now that the home has been completed, Brand and her husband get full reign of the glorious grounds. The private courtyard and scenic surroundings have compelled the one-time rolling stone brand to finally stay put — at least for a while.

While the Carriage House might not be available for the time being, buyers of Haverford luxury homes for sale still have ample opportunities to find an idyllic and historic property of their own. To start the hunt, take a look at our luxury Haverford home listings.

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