Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Wedding on the Veranda

A while back I mentioned that I had two weddings to attend during the month of June, June being the high-water month for weddings.  The first was on the beach in Cape May, New Jersey, about an hour from my home.  The second was on the veranda of a private home in the Main Line near Philadelphia, also not far from my home. 



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.” 
 
 
The film was the 1940 MGM mega-hit, The Philadelphia Story, starring Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart and the formerly “poisonous” Katharine Hepburn. 


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. 

16 comments:

  1. Ah, the Philadelphia Story is one of my favorite movies EVER. So many wonderful lines.

    "Yes, but we still get the breezes."

    Thanks for the background and interesting tidbits about the inspiration for the play!

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    1. HaHaHa! You cited another one of my favorites lines from the film. They do come at you fast and furiously, n'est-ce pas?

      Great catch, Une Femme!

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  2. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    You certainly will have had a lovely weddings on the veranda in June. Having lived in the Old World, we of course were not so well known about American movies. This looks like having been a fabulous one! Love such settings and sure, the movie is in fact 'wrapped' around some truth...
    Thanks for bringing this period of romance and grace back into your post!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    Replies
    1. Dearest Mariette, I think you would love this movie. I'm sure the three principal actors were well known in the Old World.

      It was, indeed, a period of grace and romance when real men competed for the affections of the women they loved. (sigh!)

      Hugs, M-T

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    2. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
      Oh sure those three principal characters were very well known! Don't we miss those true to life, classy movies with a message instead of the Hollywood crap that they now export. Having been both International Consultants we so often felt embarrassed because of that fact!
      Hugs,
      Mariette

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    3. Oh, my dear Mariette, you are so right. However, what passes for "entertainment" today cannot begin to tarnish those Golden Days of Hollywood.

      Hugs, M-T

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  3. Ah, yes the Main Line. I had the good fortune to live there in a small house on an estate not far from Paoli. The Radnor Hunt went through the property, and you can believe that I was surprised the first time that happened! It was an interesting place to live - we rented from the widow of the Strawbridge of the old store Strawbridge and Clothier. She was very good to us - young and inexperienced as we were. It really was another world.

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    1. Oh, yes, indeed.....the Radnor Hunt. Know it well. I still go to the Devon Horse Show every year, which benefits the Bryn Mawr Hospital. The riders are magnificent, especially the young ones, who seem to have been quite literally born to the saddle.

      I'm so glad I was able to bring back happy memories for you.

      Do stop by again.

      Best, M-T

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  4. I did not know that + how interesting. Love reading your blog. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Peggy. I love writing it when a topic inspires me as this one did.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Best, M-T

      Delete
  5. I loved this post, M-T! I've always loved The Philadelphia Story, and am fascinated by anything to do with history and beautiful architecture. Thanks for sharing this!

    Cindy at Notes in the Key of Life

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Cindy. Even though I almost know the film word for word, I never tire of watching it. What a masterpiece of wit and insight!

      Best, M-T

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  6. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    Just thinking about you girl... it is the hardest part for living through a first Birthday of your dear Madam Mère: Isabelle Anne...
    A tight hug!
    Mariette

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    Replies
    1. I am so touched that I was in your thoughts on my Mother's birthday, the first without her. Since we were on holiday, it was a bit easier to cope, but I did go to a beautiful church near our hotel to light some candles and pray for her.

      You are so very sweet, my friend.

      Big bisous, M-T

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  7. Just like you, I loved the past and those beautiful locations. I wish I have the chance to see it.

    Cheer
    Rahim Maarof

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    Replies
    1. You may want to put a trip to the Main Line on your travel schedule. It has changed very little since those more elegant days.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

      Delete

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