The Rile Residence

Updated: Sep 17, 2021

This house always stood out to me whenever I drive along Skippack Pike. It's the architecture that stood out to me more.

According to the PA Historic Resource Survey, there were only a few inaccuracies: first, the year. It said that it was built in 1870. But when i look at the architecture, it doesn't seem that it was built during the 19th century. Based on the features, it's more of a Georgian style, which is very common architectural style during the 1700s.

There are features on the house that makes it Georgian: gabled dormers, side-gabled, open roof, 6x6 sash windows, a triangular pedimented door surround, paired chimneys, and the overall symmetry. Even when the building is covered with stucco, it still has the Gerogian look.

Another error I found on the survey was that this building was labeled as a "Vernacular" style building. Vernacular architecture belongs in the modern era, not the colonial era. There were records showing that people from the 18th century lived in this home. It's inaccurate to say that this house is a Vernacular style building.


The Rile Family

Four generations of the Rile family occupied this home. The first Rile occupant to live in this home was Thomas Jefferson Rile (1847-1926).

Thomas purchased this home in 1874 from Henry Dull. In his early career, he assisted his uncle Samuel D. Sheaer in the butchering business for many years until continuing on his own. He held a whole-sale butchering trade in Philadelphia.

Thomas married Fannie Elizabeth Gordon, and had 6 children together: 4 sons and 2 daughters. One of their children bought the property from his father in 1909, and operated a veterinarian business.

Atlas of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, 1871, Page 031; G.M. Hopkins & Company, Publisher
Montgomery County 1877, Whitpain, Rahn Sta., Grater's Ford; J.D. Scott, Publisher
Montgomery County 1893, Whitpain and Worcester Townships, Bethel Hill, Fairview, Cedar Hill, Washington Square, Broad Axe Left; J.L. Scott, Publisher
Atlas: Montgomery County 1935 Vol B, Plate 8, Franklin Survey Co., Publisher
Google Satellite Plan View: 951 Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422
Google Satellite Birdseye View: Looking North

Edward Aaron Rile (1885-) earned his VMD (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) at the University of Pennsylvania in 1906. Since then, he began his practice at his home. His ads first appeared in the Ambler Gazette during the 1910s.

Edward married Alice Conard and had only one child together: Edward Barclay Rile (1916-2004). Like his father, Edward B. studied veterinary medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and graduated in 1939. He specialized in small animals.

In 1952, he and his wife Grace purchased his father's property, and lived there for a long time.

From a case report, "Urinary Lithiasis in a Bull" by Dr. G.B. Jones (1915)
Clipping ad from Ambler Gazette (August 24, 1916): Page 5
Clipping ad from Ambler Gazette (June 13, 1935): Page 4
Clipping ad from Ambler Gazette (June 4, 1931): Page 8


"Distance Calculator." DaftLogic. Accessed November 2, 2020.

"Edward Aaron Rile." Ancestry. Accessed November 3, 2020.

Franklin Survey Company. Montgomery County 1935 Vol B, Plate 8, 1935.

Hopkins, G.M. Atlas of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Page 031, 1871.

Maxwell, W. J. General Alumni Catalogue of the University of Pennsylvania, 1917. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania. General Alumni Society, 1917): 973.

McAlester, Virginia Savage. A Field Guide to American Houses. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017): 51, 201-214.

"Obituaries." American Veterinary Medical Association. Last modified March 1, 2005.

Roberts, Ellwood. Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Containing Genealogical Records of Representative Families, Including Many of the Early Settlers and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens, Volume 2. (New York, Chicago: T.S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company, 1904): 523-524.

Scott, J. D. Montgomery County 1877, Whitpain, Rahn Sta., Grater's Ford, 1877.

Smith, J. L. Montgomery County 1893, Whitpain and Worcester Townships, Bethel Hill, Fairview, Cedar Hill, Washington Square, Broad Axe Left, 1893.

Thomann, Lauren. "What Is Vernacular Architecture?" The Spruce. Last modified September 17, 2020.

"Veterinary Extension Quarterly." University of Pennsylvania. School of Veterinary Medicine 24, no. 3 (1923): 6-7.

Whitpain... Crossroads in Time. (Montgomery County, PA: Whitpain Township Bicentennial Commission, 1977): 251-252.

"Wissahickon Valley Public Library's Ambler Gazette Collection." POWER Library: Pennsylvania's Electronic Library. Accessed November 2, 2020.

#pahistory #whitpain #bluebell #skippackpike #colonial #georgian #architecture #historicpreservation #veterinary #veterinarian #UPenn #Penn #medical #doctor #butcher

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