Inside the Willows Mansion


The Willows Mansion- Center City Team

David Marshall, Staff Writer

Ever since its construction in 1910, the Willows Mansion has been an important cultural center for the Radnor community, undergoing numerous renovations and stylistic changes. However, since 2018, the Willows Mansion committee has fought a long battle to turn the historic residence into a community gathering center while still maintaining its historical integrity. 

The mansion was originally built as a wedding gift from John Sinnott, a wealthy businessman, to his wife Mary H. Luce. He called it “Rose Garland ”, which was also the name of his family estate in County Wexford, Ireland. The house was designed by a prominent Philadelphia architect, Charles Keen, who also designed the Greystone Hall, the Aronimink Golf Club clubhouse, and most famously, the R.J Reynolds estate, “Reynolda,” in North Carolina. In 1936, the mansion was sold to Clarence Geist, who bought the house as a wedding gift for her daughter Mary Geist, and her husband, Alfred Zantzinger. After they passed away, the township seized the property to prevent it from becoming developed, and after several failed attempts to sell it, they converted the property into a community space. However, ever since the mansion renovation initiative was launched in 2017, the estate has become a community center, housing numerous concerts, seminars, birthday parties, and social gatherings. 

Since then, the organization has taken many steps to renovate the mansion. According to Will Nord, the executive director of the Willows Park Preserve since 2019, the donation roof was what propelled the project forward. “We received a generous donation which we used to recreate the roof. From that, we were able to get more donations to invest in other areas of the mansion. In the past, we have worked on terraces, and the fountain. Recently, we have been renovating the bathroom.” 

For Nord, the Willows Park has been a part of his life since he was a kid. “I would go there all the time, and my memories of it are all very positive. When I found out that there was an opening to work there, I was super excited”.

While the project has faced challenges since its launch in 2017, Nord is confident in the mission. “The biggest problem is getting people aware about what we’re doing. Not only is the mansion an important part of Radnor’s history, it’s a great asset for our community”.

Krista Hixon, the treasurer of the Willows mansion renovation project, stressed the importance of donations. “Donations are critical for our survival. We rely on donations for all our renovations, including the bathrooms, terraces, and most recently, the indoor sprinkler system”.

Adriana and Robert Samargia-Willows Park Preserve

The Willow’s Mansion has been a significant part of Radnor’s history for over a century, and still serves the Radnor community to this day. It is important for us as members of the community to support and donate to the project as it preserves the historical integrity of the mansion while transforming it into a modern community center for the citizens of Radnor to enjoy.

Use this link to donate: