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The McNeal Mansion





 

The McNeal Mansion

There is a proverb which states: 'Pride goeth before destruction', the origins of the modern-day turn of phrase 'pride before fall'. Its meaning is that when you become preoccupied with yourself you lose track of all else, and ruin is soon to follow. Perhaps this is the allure which many may have with abandoned mansions, that they represent something much more than simply a former home come to rot – They are the relics of crumbled empires. The cast-offs of the once noble. The death of pride. In these ravaged mansions we see that no one, and nothing, is impervious to failure. That the steady workings of nature and time pay no mind to grandeur.

At the edge of the tall grasses and reeds which have come to consume this old estate we find the former McNeal mansion, or rather what remains of it. In 1866, Andrew McNeal purchased this parcel of land on the New Jersey bank of the Delaware River. Here he constructed not only his home, but his business - A large pipe manufacturing plant and foundry. It was a massive enterprise, and by the time McNeal’s company was incorporated into U.S. Pipe in 1899, the facility was capable of producing 200 tons of pipe per day. By the early 1900's it is estimated that U.S. Pipe was creating 75% of the iron pipe in the country.

Decades have passed since the old mansion was used as a home. Andrew McNeal was the last person to take residence here, with U.S. Pipe later adding three wings and using the building as a corporate office. In 1953 the company moved its corporate operations elsewhere, and since then the old building has seen little use. Many proposals for re-use of the house have been on the table, but none have gained any traction. Half-completed renovations scattered throughout the buildings interior are the only testament to the many stalled projects. With those failed alterations combined with fire damage to much of the main hall and grand staircase, there seems to be little hope of rehabilitating the McNeal Mansion today.

Eventually a day will come when the frail mansion can no longer hold its form. It will crumble, folding in upon itself and come to rest among the wildflowers which line the river bank. The end of a storied mansion, and the end of an era.



The original mansion structure (right) was once physically attached to an old rest stop called Jegou's Tavern.


Andrew Mcneal sits in a rocker on the tavern porch. The tavern, dating from the mid-1600's, was razed sometime in the 1930's after U.S. Pipe came into possession of the property.









Fire has ravaged what was once a beautiful master stair.









Signs of failed renovation projects are found throughout the structure.


A built-in safe located on the upper-floor. Sadly long empty.