Surrounded by 24 Picturesque Acres
The sprawling fieldstone home is a handsome example of early Pennsylvania farmhouse architecture dating back more than 300 years. The Villanova property, originally part of a land grant from William Penn, is carefully maintained as an arboretum and bird sanctuary. With its blossoming trees and boxwood gardens, stone walls and clear streams, Appleford provides a serene sense of beauty in every season.
Over the years, the house steadily evolved from several simple farm-type buildings joined together into a striking example of old-style regional masonry. In the late 1920s, Appleford was purchased as a weekend retreat by Philadelphia investment banker Lewis H. Parsons, and his wife, the former Anabel Banks. For two years, they worked with the renowned restoration architect Richardson Brognard Okie to meticulously reconstruct the building. At the same time, they began traveling throughout the United States and Europe to collect the important antique furnishings which still decorate the house today.
The beautiful acreage surrounding Appleford was transformed under the direction of acclaimed Philadelphia landscape architect Thomas Sears.
From the woods and meadows, he created a series of lush formal gardens, brick walkways, and rhododendron tracts, set off by a stream, pond and waterfall. Gardens can be enjoyed from every window of the house; each vista holds an air of enchantment and distinguished charm.
At the time of her death in 1973, Annabel Parsons left Appleford to the citizens of Lower Merion Township. According to her wishes, the property was given the name Parson-Banks Arboretum to honor her late husband Lewis Parsons and son Clayton Banks, who also pre-deceased her.
In addition to having an arboretum and bird sanctuary designation, Appleford is known for being an elite event and wedding venue on The Philadelphia Main Lane.
The Appleford Committee was formed as a volunteer group to raise funds necessary for maintaining the house and grounds, in cooperation with the township. The Committee largely depends on public support and receives no local government funding in its ongoing mission to preserve the historic house and open space surrounding it.