based on "Talamore at Oak Terrace" by Dr. James Hilty. Edited for the web site. The complete paper with references is available in our archives.
Talamore at Oak Terrace
The intriguing history of Talamore at Oak Terrace is marked by the often unpredictable, frequently timely conjunction of circumstance and chance, vision and planning. Talamore’s complex and meandering history is a tale of grand expectations and dashed hopes, brilliant schemes and crushing realities, fulfilled aspirations and a buoyant future. Historical currents touching Talamore’s past leave the land’s latest caretakers living, working, and playing in history's wake, mindful of the past but optimistic about the future.
Like all histories, this one is intended to help us better understand today and anticipate tomorrow. Exploring Talamore's past allows us to learn something of the people who shaped the land, invested fortunes in its development, and, for the most, left a positive legacy. We will learn, too, about how the land itself has journeyed from Indian wilderness to farming community, from a grand country estate to a playground for the rich, and, more recently, from the site of one of America’s earliest golf clubs to a modern golf course and award winning planned residential community. Along the way that journey incurred numerous twists and turns, several curious side roads, an occasional cul de sac, but never a dead end.
Talamore's history touches some of the minor pathways of European and American history, manifests many of the major developments in the game of golf over the last century, and testifies to the virtues of foresight, patience, and good fortune in modern real estate development and golf course design. It is a history not without memorable eccentrics, an odd and sensationalist moment or two, even a touch of scandal. Like the game of golf itself, however, Talamore’s history remains something of an enigma, parts of which are yet to be fully known or revealed.
What follows, then, is a look back at what can be known of the critical events shaping the circumstances that brought us to where we are today, early in the twenty-first century -- four hundred years since European settlers and William Penn's agents first walked the land, nearly three hundred years since Rowland Hugh build the first house nearby, over one hundred years since Henry Pratt McKean first developed the property and architect Horace Trumbauer added graceful touches, eighty-two years since Joseph H. Fretz first placed a country club on the property and the famed Alexander Findlay designed the first golf course, forty-four years since Sam Snead trod the old Oak Terrace links in a memorable exhibition, a quarter of a century since Elmer F. "Bud" Hansen first envisioned a residential golf community on the site, a dozen years since Realen Homes constructed the first houses and named the development Talamore (Scottish for "land of fair value"), and ten years since the grand opening of his splendid testament to golf's modern era, Talamore at Oak Terrace.
Dr. James W. Hilty, retired Professor of History and Dean of Temple's Ambler campus, has written extensively about American politics, including Robert Kennedy: Brother Protector (Temple). He has provided political commentaries for various publications, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and served as historical consultant to various news media, including C-SPAN, NBC News, NPR, and others. A Temple faculty member since 1970, Hilty also wrote the introduction to Marvin Wachman's The Education of a University President (Temple).