Welcome to the first installment of “Upper Moreland Historical Association Presents.“
In this ongoing series, Patch will present a photo gallery of artifacts kept in the archives, each one telling a revered or perhaps forgotten story about Upper Moreland’s long history.
We begin this series with a visit to the UMHA archive room, located in the Upper Moreland Township Building’s lower level.
Displayed in this room is an historical patchwork of collected souvenirs, memorabilia and every-day items representing a once daily way of life in Upper Moreland. Some of these items recall the glory days of the Willow Grove Park, while others date as far back as to the first area settlements in the early 1700s.
The Dubree Manor House Stone
UMHA president emeritus Joe Thomas was on hand to open up the glass doors protecting the precious collection, from he presenting a dusty and ordinary-looking stone.
“This was a stone from the first house built in Willow Grove,” Thomas said.
He explained that the current site of the , located at 117 Park Ave. in Willow Grove, was also the site of the first substantial house in the Willow Grove area.
According to UMHA “Upper Moreland Trail of History” walking guide (free in the Township Building), the two-story stone house was laid out in 1711, along the Lenni Lenape trail to New York. Some historians believe that the house was built prior to this date.
The land was owned by Jacob Dubree and his son James, who purchased 250-acres of land that was once owned by the heirs of Dr. Nicholas More, whose land grant from William Penn made this area known as the, “Manor of Moreland.”
“It was a swamp,” Thomas said of Willow Grove in the early 1700s.
As the area developed, and a proper roadway constructed, the Manor House, also known as the Dubree House was described as, “20 acres of meadow, a double house, good barn and a fine young orchard.”
The Dubree family kept it as a residence until 1762, when Jacob Dubree heirs sold the property to adjoining property and tavern owner John Paul.
It remained a residence until Upper Moreland Township acquired the house in 1950, turning it into the township’s administrative building.
By 1967, the township demolished the original house, replacing it with the administrative complex we see today.
According to Thomas, that same year, the township erected a monument using stones from the Manor House as the pedestal for a commemorative bronze plaque, which reads:
“Mooreland Manor House
Built 1706 & 1719
Purchased Dec. 19, 1950 by Township of Upper Moreland Board of Commissioners”
The inscription is then followed by the names of the commissioners and other township officials.
Thomas said that the township took down the monument when the addition of the police station was created. Although, it is unclear where the rest of the original stone monument was placed, Thomas was able to procure one of the original stones, as as well as the bronze commemorative plaque.
Both of which can be seen in the UMHA archive room.
Can’t get enough Upper Moreland History?
The Upper Moreland Historical Association Archive Room, located in the lower level of the township building, is open on Thursdays from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Special appointments can also be made by calling 215-657-2775.
For more information, visit http://www.umha.com/.
Check Patch back again for more “UMHA Presents”.