It is difficult to fathom and fully appreciate the scope of history through which this majestic home has stood, weathering the passage of time as it witnessed the birth of a nation with her struggles and triumphs, many of which happened not far from this doorstep in Philadelphia, and later in nearby Gettysburg. Iron from nearby forges may have been used to fight the American Revolution, and cavalry horses reared here saw action abroad in World War I.
The original survey of this land dates back to June 1, 1739. Then known as the Conewago Manor Farm, it served as the residence for Samuel Smith, a local miller and Indian trader who received the original warranted deed from the William Penn family in May of 1742. This deed is available for viewing in the William Penn Study. The brick portion of the home was added later and served as a public house and inn.
In 1800, Henry Bates Grubb, Ironmaster of the Hopewell Forge, bought the property and significantly remodeled the stately stone portion of the mansion in 1811. He expanded the farm to 3,000 acres and renamed it Mount Vernon Estate. You may encounter the remnants of his gristmill while you are exploring the grounds, and they have become a popular backdrop for the many photos that have been taken here.
In 1899, the Mount Vernon Estate was acquired by the Pennsylvania Vaccine Company. Owner Dr. H.M. Alexander used the large stone barn on the premises as a laboratory for his experiments. The doctor established a commercial business in nearby Marietta, PA, which is known today as Wyeth – Ayerst Laboratories.
In 1913, Samuel K. Zeager acquired the property and operated “the most modern farrowing house ever built” according to a pamphlet that was distributed to entice investors at the time. In 1934, Samuel sold the grounds to his son Paul, who farmed the land and raised 17 children, 3 with his first wife Mamie, and the other children with his second wife. The family continued the operation of the sawmill, which is still in existence just up the road.
Moonstone Manor has, over the course of time, served as a United States Post Office, a railway ticket office for lines including the Pennsylvania Railroad, an Inn, and now as a property exclusively available to brides and guests as a magical setting for their dream celebrations.
Taking over three decades to complete, the restoration of this renowned manor house was very much a labor of love to all involved. Special thanks to the prior owners, contractors, artisans, artists, and others who were instrumental in the restoration of the Manor. Their vision, artisan-ship, and pride are visible in the incredible detail of each room.