Iconic Dolobran goes up for sale

Dolobran, an iconic mansion in Haverford designed by Frank Furness in 1881, was listed for sale in September at a price of $3,250,000. Just off Grays Lane, about a mile from campus, sits Dolobran. 

Dolobran estate in the morning light, November 7, 2022 – Casey Williams ’24

According to the Zillow.com listing, the 16,914 square foot home sits on 1.96 acres and boasts seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms. The home was built as a summer home for shipping magnate Clement Griscom and originally sat upon 146 acres. The name “Dolobran” pays tribute to the Welsh village where Griscom’s family once lived. 

A notable connection exists between Dolobran and the RMS Titanic. Clement Griscom co-founded International Mercantile Marine Co. with a group of other shipping giants to monopolize the industry. With backing from J.P. Morgan, they were able to construct a number of ships to attain their goal. In 1911, they began construction on the largest ship ever built, the RMS Titanic. It launched roughly a year later, and the rest is history.

Most of the estate’s land was sold off in the mid-20th Century, and, as noted earlier, it is currently a little less than two acres. Trinkets, furniture, and decorative installations from the mansion have not fared much better, also having been auctioned off. 

In 1888, Frank Furness was commissioned by the Clement family to expand their home, and the additions include a three-story east wing featuring a study and covered porch; the servants’ wing and kitchen were also enlarged during this renovation. 

Though not the original intention, it turned out to be immaculate.

Six years later, in 1894, Furness was tasked with a second, much larger expansion and turned the residence into a mansion. This time, a major excavation turned a basement library into a balcony with Clement’s art gallery in view. Though not the original intention, it turned out to be an immaculate, and, crucially, fireproof place to store the family’s many paintings. It is described as being “illuminated by two long strips of skylights, flanking the terrace above, and large windows at the room’s east end where the hill drops away.” 

It is also possible that homes for Clement’s children were built during this, as a January 1901 discussed three residences on the property.

A century later, the home was a “Vassar showhouse in the early 1990’s,” and underwent a large renovation from 2012-2014, according to the Zillow.com listing.