The George Rieger Residence- Penllyn, PA

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

So far in my research, I've seen mansions transformed into retirement homes like the Artman Home and the former Mercer Home. And now, I discover another mansion located between Spring House and Penllyn that is currently a nursing home. The mansion belonged to George Rieger.

Louis Bergdoll Brewing Company


All we know about George Rieger was that he was a manufacturer/brewmaster of the Louis Bergdoll Brewing Company, also known as the City Park Brewery. He was also the Secretary and Treasurer of the company.


It was this company that began the beer empire in 1849 when they first opened a small brewery on 5th and Vine Streets. Then in 1856, founder and German immigrant

Louis J. Bergdoll moved his company to North Philadelphia, where the neighborhood Brewerytown came to be.


Ever since Bergdoll shot himself, as the story went, the company went downhill, especially during the Prohibition era. There were attempts from the Bergdoll family to reopen the business after Prohibition was repealed in 1933, but it failed, and the company never went into full operation again.

1898 ad

George Rieger and his Mansion


Even though we don't know much about George Rieger, we do know that his house and that it still exists today in Penllyn.


According to the Images of America book series relating to Montgomery County, PA, the house's landscape was considered one of the most beautiful.

"In many ways, the Rieger mansion embodies all the elements of a wealthy entrepreneur's estate in Montgomery County: a splendid mansion surrounded by grounds embellished with beautiful landscaping."

- Andrew Mark Herman, 74


A description of the house itself from the Ambler Gazette:

"The handsome new granite mansion of George Rieger, on Penllyn pike, between Penllyn and Springhouse, with its massive cut stone gate posts, sectional block stone fence, with piers capped with Indiana limestone, centre arches and private gateway, makes an improvement that is both grand and pleasing."

- Ambler Gazette, April 21, 1898


The architecture itself is Victorian based on the architectural features, specifically more of a Queen Anne-style home for mainly its east-wing tower. In terms of what year the house was built, I would say it was built around 1897-1898 based on the information from the Ambler Gazette and the real estate records shown below.


Fun Fact #1: The architect behind the elegant Victorian home was Otto C. Wolf who was known for designing some of the former brewery buildings in Brewerytown, Philadelphia. There could be a connection between George Rieger and Otto Wolf since both of them were involved in the Louis Bergdoll Brewing Company.

Clipping from the Philadelphia Builders' Guide (1897): Page 463

Clipping from the Philadelphia Builders' Guide (1897): Page 669

His home runs through a creek called "Willow Run," a tributary of Wissahickon Creek. And he used that feature in his backyard where the rustic bridge was built over it. Surrounding the creek used to be a garden pavilion that stood on the property as well as a log cabin.


Today, his home is currently owned by the Silver Stream Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Atlas of the North Penn Section of Montgomery County, Pa., 1916, Plate 29; A. H. Mueller, Publisher
Google Satellite Plan View: 905 Penllyn Pike, Lower Gwynedd Township, PA 19002; Original building in red circle
Google Satellite Birdseye View: Looking North

Bibliography


“Google Maps Area Calculator Tool." DaftLogic. Accessed August 13, 2021. https://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-area-calculator-tool.htm.


Herman, Andrew Mark. Along the Wissahickon Creek. (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2004): 23-24.


Herman, Andrew Mark. Eastern Montgomery County. (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 1999): 76-77.


Herman, Andrew Mark. Eastern Montgomery County Revisited. (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2005): 74.


"Louis Bergdoll Brewing Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA." Tavern Trove. Accessed August 13, 2021. https://www.taverntrove.com/louis-bergdoll-brewing-company-of-philadelphia-pennsylvania-usa-br-955.html.


Mueller, A.H. Atlas of the North Penn Section of Montgomery County, Pa., Plate 29, 1916.


Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide, v. 12, n. 29 (1897): 463, 669.

Sixpack, Joe. "Grover Cleveland Bergdoll was a Philly beer scion - and a scoundrel." The Philadelphia Inquirer. Last modified January 28, 2016. https://www.inquirer.com/philly/food/20160128_Grover_Cleveland_Bergdoll_was_a_Philly_beer_scion_-_and_a_scoundrel.html.


"What’s Preserved and What’s Forgotten: The Louis Bergdoll and Sons Brewing Company Grain Elevator." The PhillyHistory Blog. July 5, 2012. https://blog.phillyhistory.org/index.php/2012/07/whats-preserved-and-whats-forgotten-the-louis-bergdoll-and-sons-brewing-company-grain-elevator/.


"Wissahickon Valley Public Library's Ambler Gazette Collection." POWER Library: Pennsylvania's Electronic Library. Accessed August 14, 2021. http://digitalcollections.powerlibrary.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/wivp-gazett.


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