Rosehill - Chester Heights, PA
Updated: Jul 23, 2020
In the mid-1800s, as Philadelphia’s growing middle class sought resorts to visit and rural excursions as an escape from crowded urban lifestyles, rural summer residences became a popular destination. Built-in 1850 as a summer residence, “Rose Hill” became a resort hotel in Chester Heights. In 1900, the Bond Baking Company purchased the large Queen Anne summer residence to serve as an executives’ summer retreat.
After a series of owners at Rose Hill, a woman named Anne Pope converted the hotel to establish a private boarding school for special needs adults in 1923. As Rose Hill estate transitioned into a school, a pump house was built in the 1920s and a carriage barn erected in the late 1930s that was used for classrooms and male dormitories.
In 1937, William Fager became the owner-director of this highly respected facility. His family went on to operate the school for four generations.
Rosehill provided a year-round 24-hour residential program for adults with special needs. There was a full-scale recreational program provided throughout the year. There was professional staff available to attend to each resident’s needs. Enrollment in the school was limited to 30 persons to ensure the success of each individual and to maintain a family atmosphere.
In January 1946 the Rosehill School played a very important role in the establishment of the Borough of Chester Heights, as it was the venue for the very first Borough Council Meeting following Chester Heights secession from the Township of Aston.
The last in the Fager family to run the school was William “Alex” Fager along with his mother Carol. Alex passed away suddenly in November 2017. He and his mother had put the school and property up for sale. In 2014, when no one made offers on the historic facility, the family contracted with real estate developer Raymond Iacobucci, who planned to tear down the historic building and erect 33 townhomes on the site. Mr. Iacobucci later withdrew the offer choosing a different project further down Lenni Road. However, the zoning overlay which he was able to secure with Chester Heights Council in 2015 for the Rosehill property which alters the zoning from Residential with an Industrial Variance to cluster housing has remained in place and is currently under review by another developer.
This beautiful, historically important building sits on a small knoll overlooking Llewellyn and Lenni Roads and is adjacent to the Chester Heights Camp Meeting, a Victorian-era Methodist retreat. (More on the Camp Meeting in a future TBT post!) The facility boasts 24 bedrooms, 8 full bathrooms, and 2 half baths. Bedrooms are private or semi-private. Meals were served in the beautiful chandelier-lit dining room. There were entertainment areas including a small auditorium and a pipe organ. (See Photos)