Sunday, December 27, 2009

Then and Now: Southwest corner of Montgomery and Anderson Avenues, Ardmore

1940 - 2009

The corner of Montgomery and Anderson Avenues was once the estate of one of Lower Merion Township's most prominent residents, Dr. George S. Gerhard, founder of Bryn Mawr Hospital. Built in the 1880s, the house was converted in the early 1920s into a residence hall for the newly consolidated Main Line YMCA, whose main building was then on Lancaster Avenue. Likely due to budget issues resulting from this arrangement, the Gerhard house was demolished and sold in early 1941. The YMCA reopened in 1956 in a new main facility across Montgomery Avenue, still used today. The former Gerhard estate has spent the last half-century as a parking lot for Suburban Square customers, sometimes referred to as "the Ruby's lot."

In 2008, the shopping center's owner, Kimco Realty, proposed replacing the lot with a mixed-use condominium complex. That suggestion was ultimately withdrawn following what seemed to be widespread opposition among nearby residents. Aside from standard concerns about height, scale, and traffic, one of their principle arguments was that development of the lot would jeopardize the planned Ardmore Transit Center. Anyhow, it's safe to say that the parking lot is here to stay for a while.

1. Allison, Cheryl. "Abruptly, Ruby's lot plans withdrawn." Main Line Times 11 Dec. 2008.
2. "Lower Merion Atlases." Lower Merion Historical Society. 20 Dec. 2009.
3. Schmidt, David. "The Main Line's YMCA has filled community needs for 95 years." Lower Merion Historical Society. 20 Dec. 2009.
4. "The first 300: The amazing and rich history of Lower Merion (part 24)." Lower Merion Historical Society. 20 Dec. 2009.
Original photo: "2 W. Montgomery Ave." Lower Merion/Narberth Buildings. Lower Merion Historical Society. 20 Dec. 2009.

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