Mount Moro Road, Villanova
A beautiful 22-acre estate, Appleford (named for the surrounding apple orchards) started as a simple, one and-a-half story stone farmhouse, built in 1705, with an addition in the 1720s and a two story section added in 1780. In 1798 the next owner, prosperous Peter Pechin, increased the building further and located his tannery in a separate outbuilding.
In 1867, Moro Phillips, a Philadelphian in the chemical and fertilizer business, bought the property for $15,375. The family soon amassed over 800 acres in Villanova. This 113-acre estate was inherited by the son, Frederick Phillips, and then the ownership passed to Samuel G. Smyth in the early 1900s.
Subsequent owners, Anabel and Lewis Parsons, contracted an important colonial revival architect, R. Brognard Okie, to integrate and expand the estate in 1926-27. Earlier stone work was replicated; wood siding and partially stuccoed stone facade is characteristic of Okie’s “colonial” style.
In the 1930s an important landscape architect, Thomas Sears, worked with the Parsons to design the gardens and recapture the formal setting seen today. Upon Mrs. Parson’s death in 1973, she passed Appleford to Lower Merion Township as a perpetual trust.