Woodcrest: A portrait of the past

By Diana Trasatti
October 18, 2007

stephanie haag/photo staff

Historic pictures that were taken upon the initial opening of the site that is now Cabrini College are being put on display on the second floor of the Holy Spirit Library.

The exhibit Woodcrest: Portrait of a Main Line Estate presents a variety of pictures that were taken after the initial construction of the Mansion.

Accompanied with the 38 pictures hanging on the wall is a display case with some of the original pictures that date back to over 100 years ago.

“I couldn’t even tell that the pictures were of Cabrini when I first saw them. It looks so desolate. It was a really interesting exhibit. The pictures were taken really well and it’s cool that they are over 100 years old,” said Dora Peters, a sophomore criminal justice major.

The picture display comes with an information board, which provides a brief account of the different owners of the land and the history of the photographs that were taken.

A guide pamphlet consisting of three papers are also available for viewers. These papers provide information on every picture on the wall, regarding what the picture consists of and when and where the picture was taken.

The Woodcrest estate was built from 1899-1901 by James W. Paul and was designed by the architect Horrace Trumbuurs. The landscape was constructed by Oglesby Paul.

The estate was sold in 1925 to the family of John Dorrance, the owner of Campbell Soup Company. In 1953 the property was sold to the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart and used as an orphanage. The orphanage was then transformed into Cabrini College in 1957

These pictures were taken when the renowned architectural historian Barr Ferree brought a photographer to take pictures of the property. Ferree used these photographs for the September 1905 issue of American Homers and Gardens.

Students who view the exhibit may be surprised how advanced the property has become since its initial construction.

“The pictures are really good and it is interesting to see how Cabrini has changed throughout the years,” said Genicka Faye Voltaire, a junior political science major.

These pictures not only chronicle the progress of land that is now Cabrini College, but they act as a significant piece of our school’s history.

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Diana Trasatti

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