Sarobia: How About a Game of Human Chess?

Sarobia-heart-Jonas-mansion-superimposed02-s

Painting of Sarobia (mansion) by Joanna Krasnansky, superimposed where the dwelling sat originally, approximately onto the spot in a recent photo,

After Robert R. Logan’s death in 1956, several years elapsed before Neshaminy State Park opened to the public, due to the state’s funding of the project which came in drips and drabs.

In the meantime, Andreas Eisenmann, Sarobia’s caretaker, had lifetime rights to live in the gatehouse and on its property at the main entrance of the estate, stipulated by Logan’s will.

Andy, as he was known to his friends, continued to care primarily for the estate, the grounds, and greenhouses, in which flowers were grown for Independence Mall in Philadelphia, site of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

Eisenmann’s tenure as the park’s first official superintendent lasted from 1956 through ’66, presumably until around the time of his death. Jack wrote, “The day Mr. Eisemann was buried, the state notified Mrs. Eisemann that she had 90 days to get out [of the house].” No word is readily available as to her whereabouts or fate afterward. I would assume her son Henry helped her out.

The dwelling was taken over ultimately for the park’s administration and later demolished when a new office was built. The recreational facilities and surrounding property opened officially in 1974.

Around 1970, the state tightened the reins for securing the property. Vandalism and thievery had become rampant up to that point. The mansion was totally destroyed inside by fortune hunters, searching for money rumored to have been hidden in the walls by Logan, resulting in its demolition, as well as Farley’s underground house being bulldozed over, fully explained in a previous post.

A boatload of statues and artifacts were stolen from the garden and elsewhere. Figurines, sundials and whatever anyone could lay their hands around disappeared. Some of the derelicts responsible for this atrocity were said to have taken part in the Civil War reenactments that began in 1989, while camping on the property for two-night stays, as is still being done at the state park today by enthusiasts annually, gathered together during the third week of April to play weekend war games. Look for the 27th yearly reenactment later on in this year.

The following are photos sent by Jack, and others found elsewhere on the Net during my researching this topic, showing Sarobia in its florescence.

Sarobia-chessboard-s

Garden Chessboard

The image to the left is a chessboard in the main garden. Bricks filled the light squares while grass made up the dark spaces.

The Logans invited friends over for a friendly game of human chess, giving each participant a costume that signified one of the thirty-two pieces used for the contest: kings, queens, pawns, knights, bishops, rooks, both black and white.

On each respective, starting square sat a chair and a small table for the guest and their refreshments. Two individuals would begin to execute the game, directing the players while having attendants move the furniture from square to square, as needed throughout the tournament. Sounds like a fun thing to do.

Sarobia-Portico-right-side-s

The next photo shows the left side of the house (while looking straight at the front porch) and its portico, utilized mostly only in bad weather.

The asphalt drive is presently still there, which makes a roundabout off the left side of the photo and loops around to the back of the overhang, formerly used to enter beneath with carriages and automobiles from both directions. All the paved lanes leftover from the old estate remain today.

The carriage house, greenhouses, main garden, pump house, barn and Farley’s tower house were situated a short distance away on a connecting lane off the roundabout, behind the mansion. Only vestiges of the garden and garden wall exist today. The pump house remains intact.

 

 

Logans-Point-Jack-s

Logan’s Point, circa 1940s: the greenery in the background across the Delaware River is New Jersey. Sarobia juts out from the left beyond the cove.

Prior to when the US Army Corps of Engineers dredged the Delaware River’s navigational channel back in the mid-20th century, Logan’s Point, the terminus of Sarobia, was actually the end of a peninsula, as seen above. An aerial shot of the property before the cove was filled in with riverbed sediment is found here.

Robert-Logan-Sundia-Jack-s

The slide to the left shows one of Robert’s sundial masterpieces, the one with his self-carved base which now sits in the garden.

The creation sat originally at the end in between two hedgerows that can be seen by clicking here.

The bronze indicator was stolen off the top of it, after which the state used the sculpted base as an hibachi stand for picnickers.

The Bensalem Historical Society was responsible for moving it to its present location and cementing another sundial’s face to Logan’s artwork.

Note the corn tassles on stalks, blooming in the background on the far-left side of the above photo. Being vegetarians, the Logans grew their own vegetables, wheat, hay for the horses; a large crop of sunflowers was used for seeds; herbs and spices grew in the greenhouse.

Sarobia-Autumn-2015-28-s

Ginko Nuts

Ginko trees, which spawn nuts that fall to the ground in the autumn and are a Japanese delicacy, can be found along the east side of the main garden.

A large chestnut tree graces the garden as well.

Outside workers hired with harvesting equipment came in at the end of the growing season to finish the task, while those individuals who inhabited the compound aided with the planting, nurturing, canning and storing of it all during the interim.

Logan’s experimental art colony was quite a self-sufficient community. Robert relegated the estate’s upkeep to those who lived there rent free. Maintenance on the house and property was taken care of by Andreas Eisenmann. His wife took care of the work inside the mansion. When Eisenmann’s son Henry was old enough, he helped too.

Robert-Logan-Jack-04-s

Heavily into Eastern philosophy and Indian metaphysics, Robert and Sara dressed the part.

To the right is a shot of Robert in his mystic’s garb, admiring another one of his masterpieces.

Notice the statues behind him, two of the many that  disappeared unfortunately after his death.

Sarobia-Garden-Jack-s

On the left is a slide of the reflecting pond and fountain in the main garden.

Colorful flowers were in bloom. Notice the handmade planters at the front of the pond.

Fish swam in there during the warm weather, taken into the greenhouse for frigid temperatures.

In a previous entry about Sarobia, a supposition made by a local who was interviewed by an investigative reporter for a newspaper stated the reflecting pond at one time allegedly had a glass bottom for private viewings, and that the Logans were nudists.

I asked Jack about that and his reply was:

About the reflecting pond I do not think that was true. As far as being nudists, I doubt it. Logan’s was private property and posted. The only thing close to nudity was Mr. Eisemann, working without a shirt which was pretty much all summer.

Closing this entry are the remainder of the slides Jack has sent to me, and a bunch of photographs I borrowed from a public-documents site on the Net. While perusing through the photos, keep in mind what my Sarobian source relayed to me in an email about the pictures, referring to Robert’s antivivisectionist’s philosophy of doing no harm to any animal or creature for the purpose of their serving mankind:

Logan spent a lot of time apparently reflecting or at least photographed that way. Note that he wore no leather, usually no belt or one made of cloth. No leather shoes, mostly canvas.

If I’m correct he invested in an imitation-leather company, Vichy Leather Co. The owner who lived further down the river at Glen Foerd had invented patent leather.

Click on the photos below for larger versions and captions:

 

Full-size photos of all the above shots can be found by clicking here.

The next entry on Sarobia will focus on Richard Blossom Farley and wrap things up.

Thanks for stopping by and for your continual support. Special thanks go out to Jack M. for the excellent photos and his remembrances.

 

 

 

 

 

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About Mike Slickster

As an early retiree with an honorary doctorate degree from the proverbial "School of Hard Knocks," this upcoming author with a lot of free time on his hands utilizes his expansive repertoire for humorous yet tragic, wildly creative writing that contains years of imaginative fantasy, pure nonsense, classic slapstick, extreme happiness and searing heartbreak; gathered by a wealth of personal experiences throughout his thrilling—sometimes mundane or unusually horrid—free-spirited, rock-'n'-roller-coaster ride around our beloved Planet Earth. Mike Slickster's illustrious quest continues, living now in Act Three of his present incarnation, quite a bit on the cutting edge of profundity and philosophical merriment as seen through his colorful characters, most notably evident in the amusing Thirty Days Across the Big Pond series, all of which can be found at Lulu.com.
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