Hill Crest Manor is an elegant estate property commanding a quiet corner in Buckingham Township. The mid-nineteenth century house and outbuildings are clustered close to the intersection of Burnt House Hill and Fell Roads in an area that was a part of William Penn’s designed vision for Bucks County.
The property was owned by the Fell family, English Quakers who settled in this area as early as the 1720s with the purchase of 250 acres. By the nineteenth century, the Fells owned much of the land flanking Fell Road.
Wilson D. Fell’s name appears on the maps of Buckingham in 1876 and 1891 for this property consisting of 49 acres. The Fell family also owned and operated quarries further north. The hard stone was well suited for road construction and improvements. It is also ideal for the construction of stone buildings and walls. Local lore holds that the Fells served the township, possibly by directing or supplying stone for road improvements. “Pay drawers” built into the walls of the house under the kitchen windows, would have been used to pay laborers and road crews.
Wilson Fell’s 49 -acre farm was only one-half the size of an average crop-growing farm of the time, thus he added animal husbandry, poultry and breeding along with a variety of outbuildings, including the stone stabling of the barn (now a walled garden), and a stone carriage house with a “summer kitchen” to assist with butchering and food processing. Twentieth-century farm buildings include dog kennels, horse stables, and chicken coops.
Hill Crest Manor exemplifies the principles of high quality, well-proportioned symmetry, and fine finish. Fieldstone walls are finished with plaster stucco in keeping with the Greek and Italianate Revival trends. Original design details reflecting Italian Romanesque include curvilinear brackets supporting a deep cornice matched on the gracious front loggia or portico; round arched attic gable windows, low-pitched gable roof line and balanced symmetry of window placement with a center door.
Remarkable preservation of original building components and details is evident throughout, from the period Victorian sash windows surrounded by original paneled shutters and louvered blinds, paired paneled front door complemented by a bracketed screen door and sidelights highlighting a central stair hall featuring a gracious staircase with a gentle rise and original banisters with a newel post. Two parlors border the hall, one with a more recently added fireplace. A pull-knob by the front door is connected by a wire to an original bell mounted in the dining room.
The English influence on the fireplace is evident with the original cook hearth and finish doors which close when not in use, edged by tall built-in cupboards. Throughout the home are original paneled doors, molded woodwork surrounds and Victorian box locks with ceramic knobs. Long steps lead down to the flagstone floored cool “wine” cellar, first used as a root cellar. Even-sized original floorboards are finished to a warm pumpkin pine glow.
The Hill Crest Manor estate has graciously transitioned through time with the assistance of the loving care and stewardship of its owners; from the Fell family to the Bailey family, who owned the property for almost 60 years, to the current owners, the Montemurro family. It has remained a splendid example of the agricultural heritage and landscape for which Bucks County is renowned. Hill Crest Manor is steeped in this rich heritage.