Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pitcairn Fortune Threatened

Glencairn Castle in Bryn Athyn is one of properties
owned by Pitcairn Properties. (File)
In bucolic Bryn Athyn village, Montgomery County, a relatively secluded community exists. Founded in the 1800's, John Pitcairn Jr. created what was mostly a self sustaining community with an unfortunate but true reputation of intrafamilial marriages. It was speculated that this was intended to keep the immense wealth within the Pitcairn family.

Now the Pitcairn's find their fortune in a predicament that could be the first foray into an unfamiliar situation with public enterprise.

For decades the wealthy town has held urban legend status, rumors of three legged toddlers, six fingered families, and of course, the fabled New Church at Bryn Athyn Cathedral. It has only been recently that the town has reached out to surrounding communities, accepting new members to the church and recruiting students to Bryn Athyn College and Bryn Athyn Academy.

In the 1960's Pitcairn Properties was created by family members to diversify the family fortune. In 1997, the company began offering its services to other families for asset and property management.

Cairnwood Estate is also managed by Pitcairn Properties who
is in the center of the legal fight. (File)
More recently, the Pitcairn brood finds itself up against Eric L. Blum, head of ELB Capital Management, LLC, which owns 50 million dollars in Pitcairn properties preferred stock. Compare that to the 22 percent of common stock that the Pitcairn family and Bryn Athyn community members own and it's clear that the Pitcairn family stands to loose control of their 800 million dollar empire.

The battle will be fought in court and the outcome could end up determining the fate of about 600 living descendants of John Pitcairn Jr. If ELB Capital and their investors did gain control of the company they would have the opportunity to liquidate properties which could prove disastrous in the current financial market.

In addition to the Pitcairn family, their endowments to Bryn Athyn Cathedral, Bryn Athyn Academy, and Bryn Athyn College are also at risk.

Maura McCormick
Staff Writer

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