Muncy mansion provides great link to historic Eagles Mere
MUNCY – Muncy has a great link to the village of Eagles Mere, a well known lake resort in Sullivan County just twenty miles away. That link is a mansion built in 1820 on the corner of Musser Lane and Main Streets in Muncy, and christened with the name ‘Rose Hill’. One hundred and ninety seven years later, the gracious well-kept home still stands today and has had only three different family owners during its lifetime.
Before it became famous as a mountain lake resort in the late 1800s, Eagles Mere was primarily known as a glass factory under the name of Mt. Lewis or Lewis Lake. The factory was run by Joshua William Alder, a chemist who came to Muncy in 1810 to oversee the workings of the factory. The sand deposits discovered there made it an ideal location for making glass. The Glass Works was a flourishing establishment until 1812 and owned by Leyson Lewis from England. Alder married his eldest daughter who passed away in 1815. A disagreement led to Alder’s leaving the glass business in 1817 and he went into business with his brother-in-law J.H.Lewis. They built several homes in Muncy and the first brick store. Alder was born in Britain and educated at Princeton.
Meanwhile the glass factory went to financial ruin due to hazardous travel in wagons getting up and down the mountain and often the fragile by-product would shatter. In 1819 Alder went back to England and married Elizabeth Lewis, the second daughter of Leyson Lewis. When she saw her new “enchanting” brick home in Muncy, Elizabeth named it Rose Hill because of the wild rambling roses growing everywhere on the property hovering near the outskirts of Muncy borough.
Alder owned a significant amount of acreage in and around Muncy and Muncy Creek Township. Initiating the canal system, he also developed Port Penn along with business partner J.P. Schuyler. Alder lived long enough to see the first canal boats enter the Muncy Lock in 1832. He died five years later at the age of 49. Today his body is interred at the Muncy Cemetery.
Elizabeth remained in the home until her death in 1871 at the age of 81. The original part of Rose Hill was built federal style with formal front and back parlors and the outer brick walls are more than a foot thick according to Now and Then publication from the Muncy Historical Society. In 1890 a wooden addition was built.
Fannie Alder, the daughter of Joshua and Elizabeth married Dr. William Musser and lived in the home where they planted 4 Norway spruce trees in honor of their children. One still remains and faces Main Street. The Alder Musser Family became the third generation to live at Rose Hill. Musser Lane is named after Dr. Musser, a native of Lewisburg, who passed away in 1873.
According to Homes & Heritage of the West Branch Valley published in 1968, the house with its intricate carved wood and five fireplaces remained in the Alder family until 1951 when it was purchased by the late Judge Malcolm Muir from John Henslow Jennings, a great-grandson of the Alder’s. At that time Rose Hill took upon some restoration work under the management of architect W.D. Schollenberger.
Elizabeth Lewis Alder’s footstone and Joshua William Alder’s footstone remain in the garden beds and are a prize of history by the current owners Harry and Ruth Fulton. Another family heirloom that remained with the home is a wonderful blue plate of bulls eye glass made from the glass factory. Harry said he has enjoyed visiting the Muncy Cemetery and doing research on the Alder family and its history. A graduate of the Naval Academy, Fulton is retired from Construction Specialties and has lived at Rose Hill for 36 years. When he first saw the 3.3 acre property, Fulton said the property suited him. “It was perfect here for us,” he said.
Fulton first discovered Elizabeth’s headstone among the overgrown briars at the north end of the property as he was clearing the yard, and has since incorporated it into the marble and slate patio terrace. After he purchased it from the Muirs, Fulton said the property was overgrown with briars and blackberries. There was still a remaining 100×100 feet parcel still under the ownership of John Henslow Jennings and Fulton was able to purchase it in 1982. Shortly after purchasing the home, Harry Fulton became engrossed in the family history.
The property is now for sale and Fulton said he has been compiling some historic records and genealogical research on the families who have lived in the home. He said, “I started with tax records. I wanted to preserve a little bit of this historic property on the (Alder) family.”
The property grounds are preserved in history. “Somewhere on the grounds lie the remains of a mother and infant son,” said Ruth Fulton. It could possibly be the the first Mrs. Alder who died before Joshua Alder moved into the home in 1822.
There are some very unique features that come with the home including a coffin door in the living room. The carriage house is also original and there are four full bathrooms, Palladian window dormers, built-in bookcases and “magnificent crown molding.” A wing was added in the 1900’s.
Ready to downsize, the Fultons are hoping the next homeowner will enjoy the extensive family history which Fulton said is a work in progress now that everything is digital.
The foot stones will remain with the sale of the home and Ruth Fulton said she has promised the Lewis glass plate from Eagles Mere to the Muncy Historical Society.