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Ury House

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Ury House -- 1945
"Ury House" on Pine Road, Fox Chase, which was standing when William Penn arrived in 1682, has been sold to the Catholic Society of Medical Missionaries of Maryland for $69,505.70.
The 63-acre estate is bounded by Strahle, Verree and Susquehanna roads.
The new owners, who have property across the road, plan to turn the mansion into a school for nuns who are trained as physicians and sent to all parts of the world to carry on their healing work.
The Misses Jean, Sarita, Alice, and Jessie Crawford who live in the five rooms of the mansion that have modern heat, plan to leave for Florida tomorrow. They are the descendents of the family that owned and lived in the house since 1814 [sic].
Joseph Crawford, father of the Crawford sisters, was a former official of the Pennsylvania Railroad. He preceded his Wife, Mrs. Harriet Crawford, in death. It was in settlement of her estate that the house was finally sold.
In addition to the four sisters, three brothers survive. They are Henriques, of Chicago, vice-president of the Berwind-White Coal Mining Co., who won the Croix de Guerre as an Air Corps lieutenant in World War I; Joseph, vice-president of a railroad having its northern terminus at Nashville, Tenn., and Stephen, of Florida.
Sale of the property was through the real estate firm of W. and M. Herkness.
"Ancient Ury House Sold to Catholics" (The Evening Bulletin, 1945.10.04).

When Miss Jean Crawford and her sisters, Alice, Jessie and Sarita, left for Florida a fortnight ago it marked the end of an era for Ury House, historic mansion in Fox Chase occupied by the Crawford family for the last 131 years. It is the oldest house in Pennsylvania.
Although the ladies did not get the $1000,000 they asked for the 23-room home and its 62 surrounding acres, they did get nearly $70,000 from the Catholic Society of Medical Missionaries of Maryland. Anyway, the Crawford sisters will be a lot warmer in the sunny south this winter than they were in their lifetime home in which only five rooms were heated. Because of high taxes and the rising cost of living, the operated only one of the mansion's two heaters, with the result that the atmosphere of the spacious apartments gave a frosty expression to the ancestral portraits on the walls.
"It would take more than 100 tons of coal to keep the furnaces going," explained Miss Jean to a friend of ours who was wondering if it would be quite au fait to keep on his heavy overcoat while calling on her one January day. He didn't doubt Miss Jessie when she murmured, "I can assure you that this is not a comfortable house to live in." (He kept his coat on, merely turning up the collar when he left.)
Even the sisters in later years had to perform the household tasks themselves, they clung to their home with happy memories of the days when they and their four brothers and another sister, who has since died, enjoyed a carefree childhood their. They recalled with pleasure the gay entertaining at Ury 33 years ago when they were presented to society as "Assembly debutantes" by their parents, the late Capt. Joseph U. Crawford and Mrs. Crawford, the former Harriet Henriques.
Swedes' Hall was used later by the Crawfords as their dining room after they raised the ceiling. Miss Jean Crawford recounted, in a paper she read before the Frankford Archeological Society:
"As a child, I remember the Old Swedes' Hall, with an oven built into the wall, and the old forge in the cellar. . . . This was torn out later, infortunately, to provide the family with a more elegant dining room and a more up to date kitchen. . . . We regret the change now in the interior, though the ceiling of the Old Swedes' Hall was so low that my uncle, 6 feet 4 inches tall, could scratch his nose on the ceiling, and the room was, except for quaintness, more or less lost space."
Now, there'll probably be other changes at old Ury House, where nine lively young Crawfords once raced up and down the double avenue of splendid white pine trees planted by Miers Fisher. Ury is to be used as a training school for nuns to serve as medical missionaries in all parts of the world.
Rex Rittenhouse, "Ury House Guest Was Victim Of Jittery Maid" (Philadelphia: The Evening Bulletin, 1945.10.21).

Ury House -- 1946
The historic Ury House, 8403 Pine road, Fox Chase, will be officially opened tomorrow as a novitiate house of the Catholic Medical Mission Sisters.
The 35-room structure, was built around a Swedish blockhouse dating from the 1600s. It will be known as St. Teresa's Novitiate.
"Novitiate Home to Open", The Evening Bulletin, 1946.05.31


Ury House -- 1973
Ury House is demolished, making way for the Montclair quadplex apartment development with a string of private twin homes along the east, north and south periphery of the estate.

1. the location of Ury House as it exists today.
2. the location of Ury House gardens as it exists today.

"Seeing Ury House, originally a fort built by early colonists in 1645 demolished in 1973, closing that period for us, caused a great desire within me to save every remnant and legend pertaining to early Fox Chase (Lower Dublin) history. I then decided to do research on my home town, gathering many facts from many sources to compile them into a condensed form so that every child that grows up here may value his or her heritage as I do. Through this research I decided to do pen and ink etchings of our historic sites..."
Johanna Frueh Gaupp, Fox Chase: 300 Years of Memories (Philadelphia: Friends of Burholme, 1976).

Gaupp's article on Ury House within Fox Chase: 300 Hundred Years of History is a cut-and-paste composite of most of the newspaper articles cited within this chronology. The story of Ury House's Swedish colonial origins and the list of notables that are said to have visited Ury are even a bit further embellished. Ironically, there is no mention of Benjamin Henry Latrobe and Charles Willson Peale, who indeed did visit Ury House and even sketched and drew the site.


Ury House -- 1974
Ury House
Ca. 1645; 1728; ca. 1790 by Miers Fisher; extensive additions and alterations 1841 for Stephen Crawford, altered
Pine Road above Strahle Street
Perhaps one of the oldest surviving structures in the city. It is now wrapped in a Regency "Grecian Villa" somewhat reminiscent o fthe residential commissions of John Haviland.
Edward Teitelman and Richard W. Longstreth, Architecture in Philadelphia: A Guide (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1974), p. 170.

Ury House -- context

Besides being somewhat adjacent Pennypack Creek, Ury House was just as close to Oxford Avenue, which was originally an Indian trail.
c. 1645 -- Ury House.
1683 -- Brauhaus Restaurant, with plaque stating Built in 1683.
1698 -- Trinity Oxford Church.
Oxford Avenue begins as a fork off of Frankford Avenue, which was also originally an Indian trail. Frankford Avenue begins at the Delaware River, just south of Penn Treaty Park, which was a New Sweden settlement circa 1645-1655.

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