Bad Behavior

The History Behind This Dangerous Motorcycle Gang’s Unlikely Former Headquarters

lockwood-mansion-topThis mansion is actually being saved (hooray!) and converted into a hotel but because they are currently working on it, I was only able to sneak around the back of the house for a few photos. I’ve included photos of the inside from the newspaper and Chester County Ramblings so we can peek in there too.

DSC_3377

lockwood-mansion-porch

An empty white room with a large arched window, dark floors and a fireplace.

The Philadelphia Inquirer.

It was a strange place to build an elaborate mansion. Around dairy and grain farmers, school teachers and workers from the local marble quarries this area of Chester County, Pennsylvania stands an Italianate Victorian Gothic marble and blue limestone mansion..

Designed by the architect Addison Hutton for millionaire William E. Lockwood in Glenloch (now Frazer), Pennsylvania, the house is elaborately built with eaves, alpine arches, a tower, elaborate interior molding and cranberry stained glass windows. At the time, just at the end of the U.S. Civil War in 1865, the gingerbread mansion cost $250,000 to build.

lockwood-mansion-full back

DSC_3368

In fact, Hutton was on his way to meet with Lockwood to discuss the project when news broke that President Lincoln had been shot. The assassination threw the country and everything else into such turmoil, that Hutton and Lockwood didn’t reconvene until months later.

So, who built such an elaborate mansion in the middle of nowhere?

An empty decaying white room with arched windows in a vestibule.

The Philadelphia Inquirer.

lockwood-mansion-roofWilliam Lockwood was the inventor of the popular paper collar for men. (You can read about the paper collar fad here). These affordable, disposable paper collars made him a fortune and he moved out to the country for the preservation of his and his family’s health, reinventing himself as a “gentleman farmer.”

Lockwood had three children, two daughters Daisy and Edith, and a son named William Lockwood, Jr. and the mansion that looked like sweet gingerbread was actually alarmed to the teeth.

lockwood-mansion-sideWhen the mansion was built it was one of the largest estates in the entire state and by 1877 it had its own telephone system and security system that wired every single door and window with its own burglary alarm.

If that didn’t provide peace of mind, Lockwood borrowed his neighbor’s bulldogs for “outside alarms” every night. And he wasn’t just paranoid. Tramps frequently attempted to slide into the house through the many windows and often more than a dozen would be rounded up in one sweep.

DSC_3255

lockwood-mansion-treesOriginally the estate was so large it housed three separate farms, tenant houses, its own post office and four railroad stations. Lockwood named the estate “Glenloch,” Scottish for “lake of the glen,” but when the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) built a station they used the name Glenloch too.

Lockwood was furious and he changed the name of his estate to Loch Aerie. In the end, name stealing would be the least of his problems. The PRR used up all the water on the estate and left his land bone dry.

Lockwood mansion surrounded by trees.

Lockwood, then known as “Glenloch,” in 1958. Library of Congress.

Lockwood took them to court but it was a costly, drawn out battle that cost him his entire fortune.

In 1911, Lockwood died at the age of 79. For years the mansion was mostly hidden away behind trees and local children whispered that two old sisters lived there who rarely came outside. The only way to draw out the Lockwood sisters was by wandering on their land.

DSC_3234

When the last sister died in 1967 the mansion lay abandoned after the Tabas family bought it but did nothing with it. Then in 1973, it became the headquarters for a motorcycle gang called the Warlocks. (They’re still around and you can read about how dangerous they are here).

They had little respect for the house and there was a damaging fire in the east wing. The gang also kept a pet wolf in the house. That same year they engaged in a shootout in the house with rival gang the Pagans. Soon, they moved out too.

Tires marks etched from a motorcycle on the wood floor of the house .

Tires marks from a motorcycle in the house, Chester County Ramblings.

lockwood-mansion-underground

Supposedly, that little steeple sits above a large storage area underground.

In 1980 architectural curator Anthony Alden moved into the boarded up house with no heat. He spent thousands of dollars restoring it, hoping to convince the Tabas family to sell it to him. Eventually, he moved out in the mid-2000s when they couldn’t agree on a price.

While he was there he worked with a historical commission to minimize the effect of the Home Depot that was built next door. The house was ultimately saved but the pond and most of the grounds were paved over.

DSC_3448

DSC_3442

lockwood-mansion-windowsAfter that it lay empty once again before unsuccessfully going up for auction repeatedly. Recently, it finally found a buyer and it being turned into a hotel. Restoration is currently on-going.

lockwood-mansion-corner*You can read the dramatic saga about the Tabas family who owned and then sold the house to its current owners here.

**You can see inside the mansion in this video.

DSC_3240

Sources: 12, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Photos of the mansion in winter are from Chester County Ramblings. Click on the picture to go to their Flickr page.