Rowley House Museum
Architect Eber Culver designed this mansion on Millionaires’ Row for E.A. Rowley, one of the wealthiest men in Pennsylvania. It was completed in 1888 and is one of the most architecturally significant houses in Pennsylvania.
Throughout his life, Rowley operated and directed many businesses. His list of credits include serving as president of the local Edison Illuminating Electric Company, chairman of the National Furniture Co., organizing the Kettle Creek Coal Mining Co., serving as a director of the Lumberman’s National Bank, president of the Susquehanna Trust and Safe Deposit Box Co., majority stock holder in the First National Bank, director of the Merchants National Bank, president of the Self-Locking Buckle Suspender Co., president of the Culler and Hawley Furniture Co., owner of a stock farm, and owner of valuable real estate in the West and in Washington, D.C.
As the owner of one of Pennsylvania’s largest wood-working machine companies, Rowley and Hermance Machine Co., Rowley’s home was a showcase of wood work from mahogany, cherry, maple, walnut, white and red oak to yellow pine. As president of the Edison Electric Illuminating Co., he equipped his home with some of the finest and earliest electric light available. He also owned the Backus Manufacturing Co., which produced gas log fireplace inserts and equipped each fireplace in his home with these modern devices.
At the time the house was built, the Williamsport Gazette and Bulletin noted the residence had the finest plaster moldings and ceiling medallions in the city. Also noted was the expensive English Minton Tiles (in each fireplace and the vestibule) imported from Stoke-on-Trent, England. The tiles depict Renaissance Revival figures as well as ancient and contemporary mlitary heroes, such as Alexander the Great and Ulysses S. Grant. The article mentioned conveniences such as gas and electric lighting, water closets, dumbwaiters, and speaking tubes. However, an even more significant feature of the house is the breathtaking Tiffany-quality stained glass windows set in the vestibule and in the east to catch the morning sun along the staircase landing, and set in the west to catch the early evening light in the dining room. These stained glass windows incorporate every facet of the glass maker’s art including etched glass, beveled glass, jeweled stained glass, faceted glass, and hand-painted and fired glass. E.A. Rowley’s etched initials shine through the largest window in the house. These glorious windows were the subject of a photographic essay in the December 2006 issue of Victorian Homes magazine.
The floor plan of this 10,000 square foot house includes thirteen bedrooms, a ball room on the third floor, a library, double parlors, a sewing room, a baking room, a butler’s pantry, a carriage house, and the carriage keeper’s quarters.
The most amazing thing about this mansion is that it still exists in an almost original state, more than 125 years later, largely due to its use as a convent for Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for 70 years (1932-2002).