Notorious Du Pont Estate Now Luxury Development
Pennsylvania's famed Du Pont estate, where thoroughbreds once frolicked and John du Pont shot and killed an Olympic gold medal wrestler, has been leveled and replaced with a Toll Brothers development of luxury houses.
Foxcatcher Farm, the former name of the estate, has been transformed into Liseter, a development permitted for 449 homes on more than 200 acres. The Toll Brothers project ranges from townhomes that start in the low $600,000s to five-bedroom houses that begin at $1.1 million.
Neighbors knew the property as the Du Pont estate, the site where John du Pont, who inherited the place, shot Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz to death in 1996. "Foxcatcher," a 2014 film starring Steve Carell that is currently in theaters, depicts the incident. Du Pont died in prison in 2010 at age 72.
The property lies about 13 miles from downtown Philadelphia and a stone's throw from the Main Line -- the font of blue-blood empty-nesters who are buying the new homes, according to Brian Thierrin, Toll Brothers vice president. So far, 126 homes have been sold, and about 35 residents have moved in.
The name, Liseter, comes from Jean Liseter Austin, whose father gifted her the property in 1919 when she wed, William du Pont Jr., an heir to the Du Pont chemical fortune. They called their new home "Liseter Farm,'' and bred Welsh ponies and thoroughbred racehorses there during the 1920s and 1930s. Among their most famous was Rosemont, one of the few horses to defeat the famed Seabiscuit.
When Toll Brothers bought the property, crews demolished the mansion, which had fallen into disrepair, and razed several guest houses and storage buildings. Where the mansion stood, the developer created Liseter Square with an open-air pavilion for concerts. They also built a 9,000 square- foot clubhouse called the Carriage Barn and a fitness center with a game room and yoga center.
Developing an historic and notorious property came with challenges. Neighbors were "concerned about what was going to happen to this estate," Thierrin said. "Even people who were against this property have come in and said, 'It's not what we wanted, but what they did is fantastic.' "