Lost and Found features brief profiles of historic landmarks and structures, one lost and one saved.

Lost

In its heyday, about 1909, Willow Grove Park in Montgomery County attracted twenty-five thousand people daily, drawn by its fanciful carousel, two roller coasters, picnic groves, lake, promenades, an immense fountain, music pavilion, cafe, theater, and restaurant. Willow Park was opened in 1896 by the Union Traction Company (later the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company), primarily as the trolley park for residents of Philadelphia, thirteen miles to the east. John Philip Sousa played at Willow Grove Park every summer from 1901 until 1926, except for 1911 when he was on tour. Billed as “Philadelphia’s Fairyland,” the one-hundred-acre park struggled through the twentieth century, closing its gates for the final time in 1976. In 1982, a million-square foot shopping mall opened on the site of the popular destination spot.

 

Found

By all rights, Lacawac, in Wayne County, once the summer playground of a Scranton coal baron, should have gone the way of many of the seasonal idylls of the privileged and disappeared. In 1903, William Connell, a prosperous coal operator and U.S. Congressman, built his summer retreat in a rustic manner known as the “Adiron¬≠dacks” or “Great Camp” style. Just ten years later, Connell’s heirs sold the estate to a fellow Scrantonian, Colonel Louis A. Watres, newspaper publisher and entrepreneur, who served as state senator and Lieutenant governor. Five of the complex’s original eight buildings survive, including the Lodge, which was constructed with advanced conveniences such as running water (pumped from Lake La¬≠cawac, one of the least disturbed glacial lakes in the country) and gas lighting. Today, the complex is the center of a nature sanctuary.