No Cause Yet for Main Line Mansion Fire

State authorities take over investigation into massive Villanova mansion fire

On Thursday all that was left of a once a sprawling Main Line Mansion was the charred remains and stone walls.

Just a day earlier flames broke out at the historic Horace Trumbauer-designed mansion at 200 S Ithan Avenue in Villanova, Pa.

The fire began around 2:45 p.m. at the nearly six-acre estate and firefighters worked past midnight putting out hot spots, according to authorities.

On Thursday the State Police and state fire officials took over the investigation into the cause of the multi-alarm blaze at the 22,000-plus-square-foot home as authorities remained quiet as to what could have caused the massive blaze.

Neighbors told NBC10 that renters were apparently inside when the fire started.

“We spoke with the gardener and he was the first one to see the flames, they jetted out of the third floor window, he was outside at the time, saw the flames on the third floor” said Beverly Ornik.

“The current renters of the house were both in their second floor offices respectively, they came out because they smelled something and they asked the gardener where’s the fire?” Ornik added.

A few firefighters suffered minor injuries battling the blaze.

Delaware County assessed the property for nearly $2.25 million in August 2006 but the historic home, built more than 100 years ago, could be worth more.

The property is valued at nearly $5 million on, where the home is described as a "Marvelous Country Estate -- French Chateau designed by Horace Trumbauer is one of the last remaining grand Country Estates on the Main Line."

Other properties designed by Trumbauer include the castle at Arcadia University and parts of Philadelphia's Union League.

According to the home's property record, the three-story, single-family home was built in 1905 and includes 19 bedrooms, 12.5 bathrooms, nine fireplaces, a full basement and a pool.

Fire struck the house once before. In 1978, flames consumed a large portion of the upper level.

Jerald Batoff bought the home in 2001, according to Delaware County records.

The home was up for sale in the Fall for $6.9 million, a real estate source tells NBC10. It doesn't appear it ever sold.

Fan, follow and download: Get the latest from anytime, anywhere. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, our mobile site and NBC Philadelphia. Sign up for our breaking news newsletter. And, get breaking news delivered right to your mobile phone -- just text PHIBREAKING to 639710 to sign up. (Message and data rates may apply.)

Contact Us