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).




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