The Grundy Story
In 1884, the Grundy family stood poised on the precipice of great change for their family, community, and country. As a successful businessman, William Grundy purchased a stately-albeit outdated-home near his wool manufacturing mill. Intending to confirm his growing position and influence in the Bristol community, William with his wife Mary and their children (twenty-one-year-old Joseph and eighteen-year-old Margaret) spent the next year transforming the building into the mansion of their dreams.By 1885, the family moved into their newly renovated “modern” Queen Anne-style house that incorporated the most fashionable innovations and conveniences of the day. Deeply involved in local political as well as business endeavors, the family home also served as a center for the family’s community and social activities. Meanwhile, the town of Bristol was growing rapidly with worker housing and related businesses springing up in response to the growing success of the Grundy Mill.
In 1893 the sudden death of William Grundy brought profound change to the family. Joseph, now 30 years old, took his father’s place as partner in the family business. In addition to local politics, Joseph’s influence at the state and national level began to grow rapidly. Meanwhile, Mary and her daughter Margaret (or Meta as she was affectionately called by her family) traveled extensively throughout the United States and Europe for the next 10 years, collecting treasures for their home that reflected the eclectic taste fashionable at the time.
A new century brought more change. Joseph’s influence in business and politics was approaching its zenith. He founded the Pennsylvania Manufacturer’s Association to lobby for pre-business concerns at all levels of government. By the 1920s, Joseph was known as the“president-maker”for his successful campaign fundraising. And he served as a member of the United States Senate by appointment in 1929. Upon her return to the area in 1906, Meta threw herself into numerous social and cultural efforts in her community, including the local library. She was also involved in national organizations, all while indulging her interests in genealogy, gardening, painting and drawing, and maintaining the homes both in Bristol and Walnut Grove.
As Joseph and Meta began to age, they continued to participate in community activities and causes. However, after Meta’s death at 85 in 1952, Joseph began to spend more time in the Bahamas where he died in 1961 at age 98. Through provision in Joseph’s will, The Grundy Museum is not only a reminder of life in the past, it continues to serve the community today and into the future.