The History of Gwynedd Mercy University

Updated: Sep 17, 2021

Gwynedd Mercy College is a private, Catholic university located at Sumneytown Pike and Evans Road in Lower Gwynedd.

Before it was a university, it was a property. It's unknown who was the very first occupant of the land at Sumneytown Pike and Evans Road, but there were records showing that it was the Evans family, one of the earliest Welsh families in Gwynedd during William Penn time, who settled in the area.

In the 1840s, George H. Danenhower owned a large farmhouse with a barn, outhouses, and a long driveway. His son Charles owned a property adjacent to George's property.

Montgomery County 1877, Gwynedd, North Wales, Ambler, Royer's Ford, Limerick Station; J. D. Scott, Publisher

It wasn't until 1892 when Francis E. Bond was fascinated with the area after his sister Adelaide married a member of the prominent Ingersoll family. From there, Francis commissioned Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer to built the Willow Brook Farm in 1906 on the former Danenhower property. In 1914, he fell in love with an English woman, and got married. He, his wife, and 2 sons moved to England as a result.

Fun Fact: Horace Trumbauer built many known buildings in Philadelphia. One of them he designed was the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The next owner of this property was Roland L. Taylor. He renamed the property "Treweyrn" after the tributary to the Wissahickon Creek that flows through the property. Roland was considered a good gardener while living in the property.

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

Finally, the last owners of the property were the Sisters of Mercy who established their academy we know today as Gwynedd Mercy College.

Brief History of the Sisters of Mercy:

The Sisters of Mercy was established in 1831 with Catherine McAuley who was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. She was influenced by her father's Catholic faith. She was also concerned about Dublin's poor people.

Catherine built the House of Mercy on Baggot and Herbert Streets in Dublin to house shelter and education for poor young women who sought opportunities in the area. Many women joined her for the effort. She was acknowledged by Daniel Murray who witnessed what Catherine and the other women did at the House of Mercy. As a result, Catherine was declared the first Sister of Mercy.


Gwynedd Mercy College was established in 1948 as a junior college. Here's the rest of GMercyU's timeline to today from their website:

  • 1958: Gwynedd-Mercy College earns its first Middle States accreditation.

  • May 23, 1963: The school is re-chartered as a four-year institution, offering associate and bachelor’s degrees.

  • 1973: Men are first admitted to the college.

  • 1982: The school offers its first graduate program in nursing.

  • 1990: A new sports complex, The Griffin Complex, opens on campus.

  • 1996: Athletics moves from the NIAA to NCAA Division III. GMercyU now offers 19 NCAA Division III men’s and women’s athletic programs.

  • 2009: A new outdoor athletic complex is completed.

  • 2012: The schools of nursing and allied health professions consolidate to become the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions.

  • 2012: The Gustav Martin Building is demolished and the groundbreaking ceremony is held for a new academic building on campus.

  • 2013: In September, Gwynedd-Mercy College receives university status and is renamed Gwynedd Mercy University.

  • 2013: GMercyU is approved to offer its first doctoral program, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and quickly follows that with the addition of a Doctorate in Educational Leadership (EdD) in 2014.

  • 2014: A new, state-of-the-art academic building, University Hall, is dedicated and the library building is reconfigured to include a vibrant new Learning Commons.

  • 2016: GMercyU's longest-tenured and first lay president, Kathleen Owens, PhD, announces retirement from the University

  • 2017: GMercyU welcomes Deanne H. D'Emilio, JD, as the new President of the University

  • 2018: GMercyU announces the purchase of its new East Campus, a 154-acre property adjacent to its Gwynedd Valley campus

  • 2019: GMercyU holds the largest Commencement in its history, awarding degrees to more than 880 graduates.

**Fun Fact: Gwynedd Mercy University is one of the 17 Catholic colleges and universities that comprise the Conference for Mercy Higher Education**

Google Satellite View: Gwynedd Mercy University: 1325 Sumneytown Pike Gwynedd Valley, PA 19437

The Georgian home of Francis E. Bond and Roland L. Taylor is still standing at the heart of the university campus. It is currently named Assumption Hall.


Bond Centennial and Heritage Committee and Marion K. Rosenbaum. Gwynedd-Mercy College. (Charleston; Chicago, Portsmouth, San Francisco: Arcadia Publishing, 2006).

"Distance Calculator." DaftLogic. Accessed August 16, 2020.

"History & Heritage." Gwynedd Mercy University. Accessed August 28, 2020.

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

Scott, J. D. Montgomery County 1877, Gwynedd, North Wales, Ambler, Royer's Ford, Limerick Station, 1877.

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