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Chester County Press

The history of the mansion

05/14/2014 12:08PM ● By Acl

The Ware Mansion in Oxford was built in 1888.

The showhouse property is in the heart of the Ware Village campus and is a 22-room, Gothic revival, palatial brick mansion decorated in the traditional Georgian style. It was built in 1887-88 by Milton Walker. Prior to World War I, the owner, Dr. Lent, converted the house into a sanitarium. During the flu epidemic in the area, it served as a hospital. The current location of the kitchen served as an operating room.

John H. Ware, Jr., purchased the house in 1926.

 Legend has it that Ware fell out with his neighbors and decided to move, house and all. On Nov. 21, 1931 at 11 a.m., the house started its journey, pulled by a small locomotive on train tracks. By Dec. 11, 1931, it was crossing where Route 472 is now. Its progress was slowed by several winter snowstorms until it reached its present location by January of 1932.

Ware, who was an engineer and a public utilities operator, supervised the move. It was a half-mile down one hill and up another. To accomplish the move, the building was raised up on 110 steel beams and was winched on rollers over eight railroad tracks laid for the project. It could be moved one foot per minute and traveled a few hundred feet per day. Forty guests were present at a luncheon on the first day of the move and traveled with the building while dining. The lights were reconnected at the end of the day and the Ware family lived in the house during the move. Supposedly, it was at this time that  Ware bought the Gas Company of Oxford when they refused to maintain a gas supply to the house.

John H. Ware, Jr., and his wife Clara “Babbie” Ware lived in this house they called “The Woods” very happily until her death in 1962 and his in 1963. Their son, Sen. John H. Ware III and his wife, Marian, donated the house and 26 acres in 1967 to Presbyterian Homes of Central Pennsylvania. With many expansions over the years, Ware Presbyterian Village has served local residents as a retirement community since that time.