The Mount Of House Of The LORD.

This is the House of GOD, the GOD of all Nations

 

It Qualifies as a National Historic Landmark

 

 

A view if the Manor House, the sister home and Harmony House

 

"The Mount Of House Of The LORD"


What Sky-Scraping Words they are!

Prophets Isaiah and Micah both sang of the Mountain the high Mountain of the LORD. They rhapsodized about the Mountain of the LORD'S House the House that is established at the top of the Mountain the House that is sublimely venerated far above the hills below. This is the House of GOD, the GOD of all Nations Who puts His Wisdom in us, so that we may live decent, happy lives!

 

Architecture Of The House

The Mount Of The House Of The LORD is "Woodmont" in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, the Estate of REVEREND and MRS. M. J. DIVINE, better known as FATHER and MOTHER DIVINE. The three story Manor House on the Estate is built in the fashion of the French chateaux of the Loire Valley, this style being transitional between the late Gothic and the French Renaissance style employed around the year 1500. The Loire Valley houses played a critical role in the development of American domestic architecture. They provided a balance midway between the medieval picturesque style and the classical discipline and repose style.

The Woodmont Manor House is one of the Country's great examples of the chateau style. It is among the finest examples in the Country of this unusual type of architecture an example of a very sophisticated architectural design. It was influenced by "Biltmore," George W. Vanderbilt's sprawling house in Asheville, North Carolina the largest and most expensive private house in America which was completed in the same year as Woodmont.

But the Manor House possesses whimsy and humor that is not present in Biltmore. It reflects the particular interest of its architect, William L. Price, to adapt to local vernacular practice and taste to local stone and other materials. He designed the House in an expressive asymmetry in contrast to the more restrained classicism of Biltmore. The Manor House is an inspired synthesis of styles. In it, Price shaped a private, reticent building which is more like his Utopian Community than the formal public character of Vanderbilt's Biltmore.

William Price, a staunch Quaker, was influenced by Biltmore for the reason that he built in Asheville a resort hotel during the period when Biltmore was being constructed, whereby he was privy to its plans and drawings. He derived from Biltmore the general character of the French Loire Valley chateaux that colored his conception of Woodmont and its many details

This palatial Mansion at Woodmont is the most important House designed by William Price, the architectural theorist, social reformer and pioneer of reinforced concrete being used in the construction of buildings. He was one of the leading architects at the turn of the Century, being contemporary with Frank Lloyd Wright. He is the most important East Coast champion of the movement to reconcile architectural tradition, and novel design and construction. In his earlier years, he was employed in the office of another famous architect, Frank Furness, who worked in the lively, animated Victorian Mode. Price enlivened it further by his interest in materials and textures, which was the hallmark of his later Arts and Crafts work.

 

 

Alan Wood, Builder Of Woodmont

William Price designed Woodmont for Alan Wood, another staunch Quaker, industrialist, engineer and United States Congressman, born in 1834. Based in Philadelphia, the Wood Family amassed a fortune in iron manufacture. This business was begun by Alan's grandfather, James Wood, and His son, Alan Sr., and was an example of the transition of small, family run businesses into the great corporate combines. Alan Jr. ran the iron mill in Conshohocken for about thirty years, although he served one term in Congress from 1874 to 1876.

He continued the Wood Family tradition of civic involvement, playing a prominent role in the construction of the Conshohocken Water Works and the establishment of the First National Bank. Alan Jr. retired from active management of the firm in 1888, and spent the next few years traveling extensively. No doubt he toured Europe, and in the Loire Valley in France, was taken with the architecture of its chateaux. From these impressions, he decided that he would build a castle similar to them to be his country home. He bought property on a high bluff on the side of the Schuylkill river opposite to his iron mill, and proceeded to build a new country house there.

 

 

William Price, Architect

Construction began in the spring of 1892 and continued for two years. Date Stone

For his architect, he chose William Lightfoot Price, born in 1861. Price's Quaker upbringing and considerable experience in suburban home development made him a logical choice. He spent the winter of 1892 preparing plans for Alan Jr's new country home. After the rough construction of the house was completed, Price and his family moved to a cottage on the site, which allowed him to supervise the execution of the ornamental details of the house, which were not completed until 1894.

In due course of events, it is inevitable that such an eminent House as The Mount Of The House Of The LORD would draw considerable attention to its Virtues, both implicit and explicit. There is a spiritual aspect of the House that transcends all of its opulence and its other Virtues. Being that it is the House of the LORD, it is sacredly consecrated to GOD, from which GOD'S Law is launched. It is an Inspiration toward which the world gravitates. It is an Ideal that is projected as the Ultimate Spiritual Life.

Woodmont, one of the grandest of American homes, having met the procedural and professional requirements, was already included in the National Register of Historic Places, a vital prerequisite to further honor. William Bolger is the Coordinator of National Historic Landmarks for the National Park Service in the Northeast Region. Because of his interest in Woodmont, the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia sponsored the Nomination of Woodmont to be designated a National Historic Landmark.

The Preservation Alliance engaged Ms. Susan Glassman, Director of the Wagner Free Institute of Science in Philadelphia to write the Nomination. In it, she stated that the Peace Mission Movement is a socially progressive organization a significant Landmark in religious and social History.

 

 

The Nomination

Thereby, as a Research Historian, she set out to complete the official Nomination form of the United States Department of the Interior, which is incident to being considered for designation as a National Historic Landmark. Only those places that possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating and interpreting the Heritage of the United States are eligible to be considered. There are tens of thousands of properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but only three percent of them are of such transcendent significance as to be honored as a National Historic Landmark. Ms. Glassman did a thorough, scholarly, professional job in preparing the Nomination, doing extensive research in the process of gathering data. There were fifty references listed in her Bibliography.

The Nomination was submitted to the United States Department of the Interior National Park Service early in 1998. On May 11, 1998, the Nomination was reviewed by the Nomination Committee, and was accepted, whereby The Mount Of The House Of The LORD would be designated as a National Historic Landmark. Accordingly, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt signed the recommendation on August 5, 1998, consummating the endeavor.

At the same time that the Nomination was submitted to the National Park Service, MOTHER DIVINE wrote letters to several notable people, asking each one to write a letter to Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior, Robert Stanton, Director of the Park Service, and Carol Shull, Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places, in support of the effort to have Woodmont designated a National Historic Landmark. The response was impressive!

 

 

Recommendations By Public Officials

Arlen Specter, Senator from Pennsylvania, urged that the Nomination be approved, citing FATHER DIVINE as the Leader of a religious and social Movement that embraced integration long before the National Civil Rights crusade. He observed that honoring Woodmont would promote the long range preservation of this nationally significant property,

Jon Fox, member of Congress and representative from the district in which Woodmont is located, wrote that it was His pleasure to support the Nomination, inasmuch as Woodmont is not only a great example of sophisticated architecture, but, because of the Ministry of FATHER DIVINE, it is a Monument to the American Civil Rights Movement.

The State Representative from Woodmont's Legislative District is Lita Cohen. She expressed the hope that Woodmont would receive the honor, it being in Lower Merion Township, which is rich in history and tradition. She wrote that Woodmont has been the cornerstone of this tradition.

Ken Davis is the Commissioner of the Ward in the Township of Lower Merion. He was honored and pleased to support the Nomination of Woodmont as a National Historic Landmark. It is a magnificent structure that was built by a captain of industry, and now is the home of a beloved religious and charitable Movement. It is one of a kind.

Philadelphia City Council was represented by Augusta Clark. It was her fervent hope that the rich, social, political and ecumenical history associated with Woodmont would warrant it becoming a National Landmark. She noted also that Woodmont has considerable historical significance as the home of the legendary International Peace Mission Movement, founded by FATHER DIVINE.

Reverend Leon Sullivan wrote that for many years, he had a special relationship with his Friend, FATHER DIVINE. He shared many mutual beliefs about Self Help with FATHER. He stated that thousands of people have been directly influenced by the work of the Peace Mission, and millions more have been affected in positive ways as a result of its Message throughout the United States and the world.

Quakers were much persecuted in England because of their departure from the customs and traditions of the Church of England. The Peace Mission Movement has also been persecuted because of welcoming all into its meetings, as did the Quakers. The Peace Mission is distinguished by embracing policies of racial and class integration long before the Civil Rights Movement.

 

 

Recommendations By Architects

An architect who is highly respected in the architectural profession is Henry Magaziner. He commented that the Woodmont Manor House was designed by a nationally significant and celebrated architect, who followed the French chateau style, the same idiom that was used in the building of Vanderbilt's world famous Biltmore. It was his considered opinion that Woodmont qualifies, both as a fine piece of architecture and as the headquarters of the Movement which has done so much useful work.

Bob Thomas is another architect who vigorously supports the Nomination of Woodmont. He is impressed, not only with the extraordinary beauty of Woodmont, but also with Woodmont's role in understanding key elements of our nation's industrial, religious and social history. On this Main Line property are architecturally distinguished buildings that are surrounded by a breathtaking landscape and views which are literally right out of the nineteenth Century!

Fred Bissinger is an architect who observed that the Manor House is one of the finest surviving examples of a great mansion that memorializes in stone, wood and tile the economic and cultural power of the wealthy industrialists of the late nineteenth Century. He remarked that Woodmont fits perfectly, perched above the Schuylkill River, as a Loire Valley Chateau.

The Victorian Society in America was pleased to support the Nomination. It awarded its "Historic Preservation Commendation" to Woodmont in 1994. Charles Robertson is its Vice President. He observed that Woodmont is of great importance, both historically and architecturally. Its picturesque setting, sophisticated plans and asymmetrical arrangement represent an original synthesis of European prototypes and American design. He cited the efforts of FATHER DIVINE in the fields of world Peace, civil rights and religious teaching.

The past President of the Philadelphia Victorian Society, architect Robert Skaler, wrote that it is His pleasure and honor to endorse the Nomination of Woodmont to be a National Historic Landmark. He is a long time friend of the Peace Mission and noted that many Victorian structures, including Woodmont, would have been lost if not for the Peace Mission and its stewardship.

But even more important than the architectural significance of Woodmont, is that it is the Home of FATHER DIVINE, a religious Leader Who was active in integration and civil rights long before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. His Moral Teaching in Harlem and Philadelphia helped thousands to lift themselves out of ignorance and poverty.

 

 

The Next Eighty Years

Palace Mission Incorporated, owns the Woodmont Estate. The past President of Palace Mission, L. E. Belstrom, was immensely pleased that this singular, historic Estate was in Nomination to become a National Historic Landmark. He hoped that the Secretary of Interior, Bruce Babbitt, and others concerned would visit Woodmont, so that its aura of Peace and Contentment might descend upon them.

Mr. Belstrom commented on the magnificent Manor House, and went on to mention FATHER DIVINE'S Social Programs beginning in 1919. These Programs are credited as having great success in lifting people from poverty, and FATHER is credited with breaking down color lines more effectively than any other religious Leader of the period.

Then he stated that FATHER'S Ministry went far beyond by providing nutrition for the mind and spirit, and by raising the horizons of His followers and others through instilling in them the belief that, if they are keenly conscious of the Presence of GOD being with them at all times, they would be protected from all hurt and harm.

FATHER DIVINE has an important role in United States History. The United States, its flaws notwithstanding, represents an Ideal which will eventually form a more Perfect Union, as the Constitution indicates. FATHER thoroughly embraced the Spirit and the Meaning of the Constitution by standing for the Rights of every person, and by establishing the Universal Brotherhood of Man, based on the Absolute Fatherhood of GOD which is the Heritage of America. In all His Work and through all of His Ministry, HE interpreted this exceptional Heritage by instilling Americanism in hearts and minds.

Americanism is about People having the Freedom and Liberty to live comfortable, decent, peaceful lives. Americanism is about happy People of all complexions and creeds, living together in harmony. Americanism is about each person being independent, as our Nation is Independent, by supporting himself or herself, and paying their way as they go, owing no one. Americanism is about People being honest and responsible. Americanism is about People fearing GOD and living Virtuous, Holy lives. FATHER DIVINE dramatized what Americanism is about, and made a Reality of it in His Own Life, and in MOTHER DIVINE'S Life, and in the lives of His True and Faithful Followers.

Sayville, Long Island, New York, where FATHER and a few followers lived beginning in 1919, was designated a State Historic Landmark sixty years later in 1979 by the New York Islip Township. Now, eighty years later in 1999, Woodmont has been elevated to National Status. It is exciting to cogitate on the history packed years between Sayville and Woodmont, during which FATHER played a commanding role! It is even more exciting to peer into the future and envision what the ensuing eighty years will hold.

In the Nomination, the story of the Wood Family and Woodmont was wonderfully told, and the story was brought to its destination with the feeling that all is well. The last paragraph of the Nomination reads as follows:

'Finally, Woodmont is significant as the Home of the Peace Mission Movement, founded by the REVEREND MAJOR J. DIVINE, Who made it His Home and the Center of the Movement during the 1950s and 1960s. It is a Monument of the American Civil Rights Movement. It is fitting that the much persecuted Peace Mission Movement came to Pennsylvania because of its tradition of Quaker tolerance, coming to rest in a Home designed by a Quaker architect for a Quaker client.'

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Use the material freely but respect FATHER DIVINE'S intent, which was and is, to provide us all with the keys to eternal health and happiness without cost or price. HE truly came as a free gift to the world, gratis to mankind.

It is also nice to give credit where credit is due for through the Spirit and Teaching of FATHER and MOTHER DIVINE you are and can eternally be abundantly blessed.

From all of us to all of you. we wish you, peace and love, and many blessings, and may we all ever live in unity and brotherhood and the Consciousness of GOD'S Actual Ever Presence.

True Americanism, True Brotherhood, True Christianity, True Judaism and All True Religions are synonymous and truly Our GOD is One GOD. Amen

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