Walnut Grove was the beloved property owned by Joseph and Margaret’s paternal grandparents, Edmund Grundy and Rebecca Hulme Grundy. Edmund Grundy, his father Thomas and uncle Edmund, whom he was named after, came to the United States from England in 1821. The Grundy brothers had planned to make America their new home and go into the cotton business, but returned to England a short time after their arrival. Young Edmund, unsurprisingly, chose to stay in America after establishing a connection with the Hulme Family. He would eventually marry Rebecca Hulme, the youngest daughter of Willian and Rachel (nee Knight) Hulme, on April 2nd, 1824.
Rebecca’s family had a long and prosperous history and were very influential in the area. The Hulmes had been in Bucks County since about 1700. Rebecca’s grandfather, John Hulme, was the most prominent of the Hulmes. Starting in 1782, he began purchasing land tracts adjoining his farm, which was located near Fallsington. In 1796 he transferred this property to Joshua Woolston, in exchange for his tracts in Milford Mills, which would eventually become Hulmeville. John and later with the help of his sons and son-in-law Joshua C. Canby, established and operated mills in Hulmeville, built homes for his employees, and made Hulmeville into a prosperous community. He was also the lead organizer of the Farmers National Bank of Bucks County, established at Hulmeville in 1814. He was also the Banks first President, until his death in 1817. The Bank moved to Bristol in 1823, first to Mill Street and then eventually to its present location on Radcliffe Street. It is currently owned by Wells Fargo.
Walnut Grove was originally owned by Gunning Bedford from 1760 to 1775. The house, which Edmund later remodeled, was built in 1770. The property passed through several hands over the decades until it was purchased by Edmund and Rebecca in 1853. Upon Edmund’s retirement from his importing business in Philadelphia in 1856, he made Walnut Grove his permanent residence. Edmund and Rebecca had their home remodeled, essentially re-building it to suit their needs. The resulting house was a quintessential Victorian country house with Italianate architectural design that was reminiscent of Italian Villas. Italian Villa style homes were extremely popular in the mid-1800s. The house was a large three-story dwelling with an extension at the back for kitchens and domestic staff quarters and was built with the characteristic Pennsylvania Brownstone. The home was well furnished including a set of dining room furniture that was gifted to Rebecca as a wedding present, from her uncle Samuel Hulme. Some of these family heirlooms and cherished possessions were transferred to 610 Radcliffe Street upon Joseph’s death and are still exhibited.
William Hulme Grundy spent time at Walnut Grove as a young man. He would often travel between there and Philadelphia. Once married, he and his wife, Mary Ridgeway, and eventually their children, Joseph and Margaret, enjoyed the time spent at Walnut Grove. Joseph would often ride his bicycle to work at the Grundy Woolen Mill in Bristol from Walnut Grove and ride back at the end of the day. After William’s sudden death in 1893 and Rebecca’s in 1895, Mary, Margaret, and Joseph, almost exclusively lived at Walnut Grove as opposed to their home on Radcliffe Street. After Rebecca’s death, Joseph purchased Walnut Grove for a nominal fee, keeping it in the family.
Walnut Grove was a working dairy farm with a large central barn that burned down in 1914. Joseph built a new modern barn to replace the original in 1915. The new barn was designed by the architects Heacock and Hockesin of Philadelphia. The dairy barn provided for 50 milking cows. The cows and dairy equipment were separated from other parts of the building and there was a wing for the young stock, cow pens, feed rooms, and silos. Joseph’s intent with the new barn design was to make an absolutely sanitary structure enabling the cows housed there to produce 100% pure milk.
The gardens at Walnut Grove Farm owe their beginnings to Rebecca Grundy. Rebecca enjoyed these gardens well into her nineties. A Prunis padus [European bird cherry] was planted on the lawn at the farm, from the time that Rebecca and Edmund took up residence there. It is said to have bloomed each year about the sixteenth of May for Rebecca’s birthday. Rebecca’s interest in horticulture was shared with her daughter-in-law, Mary, and her granddaughter, Margaret, who were also passionate about the gardens. Margaret was intimately involved in the planning, planting, and oversight of the gardens at Walnut Grove.
Joseph Grundy died in 1961. Walnut Grove was eventually torn down in 1985. Although Walnut Grove is no more, its memory, history, and impact on the Grundy Family will live on through the Grundy Museum.