Main Building (formerly a convent) at Rosemont College
The Main Line is an area I know well. I grew up in a neighboring town and spent four wonderful years as a student at Rosemont College, a private Catholic university for young ladies nestled in the heart of the Main Line. Rosemont is now co-ed, and I confess I still have mixed feelings about that, but times change and so must educational institutions, if they wish to survive.
You fans of the soap opera All My Children might find this tidbit of interest. The long-running and still hugely popular soap opera, created by Agnes Nixon, debuted in 1970, the same year I began my studies as a lowly freshman at Rosemont College. And…………..the town of Rosemont is, in fact, the model for the fictional town of Pine Valley, Pennsylvania, where the TV series takes place.
You won’t find the Main Line listed as such on any map. It’s more of a socio-cultural designation than a geographical one. The affluent communities that grew up along the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad (hence the name) were originally a collection of country estates built by wealthy 19th Century Philadelphians, such as the Drexels and the Biddles, who maintained large homes in the City, but wanted even larger and more magnificent country estates as retreats from the growing congestion and summer heat of Philadelphia.
|Entrance to the Ardrossan Estate|
Perhaps the most famous estate in the Main Line is the one that inspired first a successful Broadway play, then a wildly successful Hollywood film of the same name, while revitalizing the moribund career of an actress who had become known in the industry as “box office poison.”
|Salon in the Ardrossan Estate|
The Ardrossan Estate in the city of Villanova (right next to the town of Rosemont), built from 1911-13, was used as both backdrop and inspiration for the Lord Estate in the film. This 50-room Georgian revival mansion was named after the family’s ancestral Scottish home and was originally comprised of 800 acres in the heart of the Main Line.
|Helen Hope Montgomery Scott at the annual Devon Horse Show in Devon, PA|
And the Main Line’s most dazzling socialite, Helen Hope Montgomery Scott, whose father had built the Ardrossan Estate, was the inspiration for Hepburn’s unforgettable character, Tracy Lord.
Here is a clip from one of the funniest scenes in the film. Jimmy Stewart’s character arrives drunk at the home of Cary Grant’s character (Hepburn’s ex-husband) following an all-night party the night before the wedding in which Hepburn is supposed to marry a fellow by the name of Kittredge the following morning.
A great deal of the witty and clever dialogue was ad-libbed by two actors who are clearly having the time of their lives filming this scene, and the viewer is only too happy to go along for the ride.
If you have never seen this film, do not pass "GO," do not collect $100, just get thee to a Netflix RIGHT NOW, get your hands on a DVD of The Philadelphia Story and prepare to have the time of your life with three of Hollywood’s most beloved icons, along with a brilliant cast of supporting characters.
You are invited to the Main Line’s most exclusive social event of the season…………the wedding of Tracy Samantha Lord to……hmmm, let’s see now, which of the three men will she end up marrying? I guess you’ll just have to show up at the wedding and find out.