Glen Alpin: A Brief History

Glen Alpin was part of a 1250-acre tract “in the Indian purchase made by the Council of Proprietors” when acquired in 1715 by Amos Strettell (born 1658) an English Quaker who never saw America. His son Robert came to Philadelphia in 1736 with his own family, including a son, Amos II (born 1720). Robert Strettell became a leader in the Quaker city, and was mayor in 1751 when Amos Strettell II sold the tract to Peter Kemble.

Peter Kemble was a longtime member and once president of the royal council governing the English colony of New Jersey. By 1754 he had a garden here, and presumably a house. Tenants and slaves carried out the work at Mount Kemble. During the Revolution, the Continental Army camped on Kemble’s land and generals William Smallwood and later Anthony Wayne were quartered in his house.

Kemble died in 1789, leaving his home lot of 320 acres to his son Richard, who lived in the house with his unmarried sisters Ann and Elizabeth. Richard died in 1813, leaving the property to his young nephew Richard Frederick Kemble, with life rights to Ann and Elizabeth. After they died, Richard F. Kemble sold Mount Kemble with 242 acres in 1840 to Henry S. Hoyt of the city of New York.

Henry Hoyt’s wife Frances was the daughter of William Alexander Duer, president of Columbia College, former New York legislator, and grandson of Gen. William Alexander, Lord Stirling. The Hoyts moved the Kemble house a bit northward and built the stone Gothic Revival house in 1847. Frances Hoyt’s parents and her sisters occupied the old Kemble house, renamed Inglewood, after Mr. Duer retired from Columbia. The Hoyts kept the name Mount Kemble for their house. By the 1870s they began to spend more time in Europe and Newport, Rhode Island.

In 1885, the Hoyts sold the property to David Hunter McAlpin of New York. He had another country place in New Jersey, Brooklawn Farms in Hanover, but had several adult children so more space was welcome. He renamed this house Glen Alpin. His daughter Frances Adelaide, recently married to James Tolman Pyle, would build a new house next door, later called Hurstmont. Next to the Pyles, David’s son William McAlpin occupied the old Kemble house, Inglewood, which he renamed Glyntwood. When David McAlpin died in 1901, he left Glen Alpin to his son Charles.

At the time, Charles W. McAlpin was the first secretary of Princeton University. Within a year, Woodrow Wilson would become Princeton’s president. Charles and his wife Sara made changes and additions at Glen Alpin including outstanding gardens. They were childless, but their Pyle relatives and children lived next door. The McAlpins kept Glen Alpin until 1940, when they sold it to a princess.

Doris Mercer Harden Kresge became Princess Farid-es-Sultaneh in Paris in 1933 when she married her third husband, Gholam Hossein Farid Sadri, a prince of the Qajar dynasty that previously ruled Iran. The marriage lasted two years. The princess remained in France but visited the U.S. several times. In October 1939 as Hitler prepared to attack the French, she sailed to the U.S. bringing the Prince’s teenage son, who was to attend school in New England. She bought Glen Alpin a few months later. She made no structural changes in the house but eventually subdivided the property, selling one lot to author Sterling North and another to the Seventh Day Adventist Church. In 1955, she conveyed Glen Alpin to Princess Estates but lived in the house until she died in 1963.

Christopher J. and Thelma De Carlo, then of Short Hills, purchased Glen Alpin in March 1965. They subdivided the property and built a new house for themselves behind the 1847 structure. Mr. De Carlo used Glen Alpin for home-based enterprises. After an unsuccessful application to use Glen Alpin as a church, he sold his property to Liang-Bin and Su-Hsiang Jean in 2002, who kept the new house and offered Glen Alpin for sale.

To maintain the property as open space, protect the watershed and preserve the historic site, the Township of Harding and the Harding Land Trust purchased Glen Alpin in October 2004, assisted by grants from the county and state and coordination by the Trust for Public Land.