Henry Lewis purchased land in the new world from an agent of William Penn in his native Wales in 1682. Later that year he arrived in Haverford Township with his wife, children, and father seeking religious freedom. He named his home Maen Coch, translated as Red Stone, in honor of his native village in Pembrokeshire. There is no record of the original house on the site, which was likely made of logs.
After his father’s death, Henry, Jr. built the first increment of the current mansion in about 1700. This is the present day drawing room and bedrooms above. In 1730 he extended the home with a second increment that is now the hall and library and second floor master bedroom.
After three generations of Lewis family ownership, the property, now 322 acres, ceased to be in Welsh Quaker hands in favor of a series of wealthy members of the merchant class. Captain John Wilcox purchased Maen Coch in 1750 and renamed it Clifton Hall. He added the third increment, now the dining room, and made the mansion a more formal home.
In 1761 Charles Cruikshank became the next owner. The Cruikshank period saw the farm expand. John Ross, a fellow Scotsman and wealthy Philadelphia merchant, married Clementine Cruikshank in 1768.
During the Revolutionary War, John Ross was appointed by the Congress to obtain uniforms and supplies for the Continental Army. He put up his own funds as an advance, reportedly as much as 20,000 pounds sterling, and was never fully repaid.
At the conclusion of the war Ross purchased the property in 1782 from Charles Cruikshank, who, as a loyalist, decided it best to return to Scotland. John Ross is thought to have renamed the property The Grange in honor of his friend the Marquis de Lafayette whose large farm estate and Chateau near Paris was named La Grange.
Mr. Ross was well acquainted with many of the Revolutionary era notables and the Ross estate was frequently the scene of elegant entertainment. George Washington references dining with Mr. Ross on multiple occasions, either at his large mansion in Philadelphia (still standing at 2nd & Pine) or at The Grange. John Ross died suddenly in 1800 and his financial affairs were in disarray.
This led to a series of transactions where The Grange, at the time 548 acres, changed ownership in rapid intervals and was fragmented.
John Brinton, Levi Lukens, Martin Dubs, and Samuel and Jane Ross Breck briefly owned portions of The Grange until the next major owner, Manual Eyre, purchased various parcels of the property in 1816 with the apparent intentions of reuniting, much of the Ross holdings. Upon Eyer’s death in 1845, the use of the Grange was left to his daughter Harriet, who with her husband John Ashhurst remained as tenants. Dennis Kelly, a well known mill operator in the Haverford area, purchased the property from the Trustees of the Eyre estate in 1847, likely for use of the Cobbs Creek water power. In 1850 Kelly sold 103 acres, including the house and outbuildings, back to John and Harriet Eyre Ashhurst.
John Ashhurst executed a substantial modification of The Grange with architect John Carver. He added the porte cochere wing to the mansion and changed the character of the former Georgian style home to Gothic Revival with the addition of the front gable extension, the grand verandah, and the pinnacles and other adornments to the mansion. He also had the dairy barn, now St. James Church, and the tenant farmhouse constructed. All the outbuildings were accorded the same unifying style.
The Grange Today
It is the vision of John Ashhurst which is preserved and represented at The Grange today. John Ashhurst died in 1892. His two sons shared in his estate. John Jr continued residence in the current mansion until his death in 1900. The property was uninhabited for an extended period. Title to the house and 86 acres was taken by Benjamin R Hoffman in September 1913. Mr. Hoffman, who created his wealth in real estate,did not take up residence at The Grange until his marriage to Margaret Clawson in 1922 when they began rehabilitating the estate.
After Benjamin suffered financial reverses during the Depression, the property was put up for sheriff’s sale and Margaret Hoffman repurchased the 9.97 acres that exist today, including the house, gardens, and most outbuildings. Upon Margaret Hoffman’s death in 1973, the estate was bequeathed to two nephews. Benjamin H. Barnett, Sr. sold The Grange to the Township of Haverford in 1974.