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Broomall Bergdoll Mansion Fire of I-476

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In the 1970’s Broomall was a different place. Barnes and Noble was a theatre.

Danny Bonaduce was haunting our streets.

Marple Newtown had two Jr. Highs. But an even larger change was that there was no 476. At the exit of 476 Southbound in Broomall stood the Bergdoll Mansion.

This mansion was built in 1907 for the Bergdoll family, a wealthy German Immigrant family who owned a large Brewery in Philadelphia. Their son lived a life on the lam. Grover Cleveland Bergdoll was hunted by the government for draft dodging during WW1. While they hunted him he lived the life of a playboy, even owning one of the original Wright Brother’s planes which his family donated to the Franklin Institute.

If you don’t know, The Blue Route was despised when it was conceived. Though they started construction in the 1970s it didn’t fully open until 1990 due to the bitter fight Broomall homeowners and other townships had with Penndot. One of these homes happened to be the Bergdoll mansion. The 13 Acre estate still has some remnants left of where it once stood: Stones from the home still litter the property to the left of the exit and according to some sources the tennis courts still stand to this day.

A police officer found the home to be ablaze late night in 1976. The official cause of the blaze was considered to be Arson by vandals. Were the vandals agents of Penndot? We don’t know. But according to multiple sources the home was empty at the time of the fire. The mansion had been turned into apartments and by all accounts by former tenants was haunted by the ghost of the original Mrs. Bergdoll. Weird things would happen in the middle of the night. So as many people watched from the median of West Chester Pike, the roof collapsed and with it a great ball of fire resembling a woman’s face came screaming from the home. When I first heard this story I didn’t believe it. Then it was backed up by my own parents, grandparents and another unrelated source. Who burnt down the Bergdoll mansion? Who was the lady in the flames? What had upset the fire ghost? These answers we may never know but I think we can easily guess as to their answers.

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One thought on “Broomall Bergdoll Mansion Fire of I-476

  1. My late husband and I had the 3rd floor apartment on the right side looking at the photo. We lived there roughly 2 years–1973 and 1974. The architectural features of the house were amazing–curved windows, parquet floors–and what looked like a Tiffany glass skylight at the top of the 3-story stairwell. Fire codes forced the stairwell to be enclosed and have fire doors, so the effect was lost.

    The landlady had obtained the property at auction–and gained full ownership in her divorce. She was a former cabaret singer–and a real character. Sadly, she did not maintain this beautiful property, so we had roof leaks in our bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. But we were young and in love….

    My eldest brother was a conscientious objector to the Viet Nam war–and was convicted of a felony because of it. This impacted the rest of his life (He died at 33 from cirrhosis). I am trying to write a book blending his story with Grover’s. I have placed the characters representing my brother and his wife as tenants in the mansion.

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