Bethany Homestead Farms' Mansion
In 1908 John Strongman replaced the old house where he was born with a two-story building. In 1929 and 1930 it was enlarged to the seventy-room, three-story mansion illustrated. In the early 1920's seven farms in Bethany Borough and Dyberry Township were purchased and became Bethany Homestead Farms. The 750-acre farm had some of the finest Leghorn chickens and registered Guernsey cows in the state. and employed approximately thirty people. The estate included a nine-hole golf course, playhouse, tennis court, indoor swimming pool, orchard, and formal garden. In 1923 John and Charlotte Hinch Strongmans' daughter and son-in-law, Hortense and Byron Miller, became its owners.
John Strongman joined F. W. Woolworth as a buyer when the company had two stores. He retired as an executive of the five and dime chain in 1912, and died in 1933 at the age of seventy-eight, leaving a two million dollar estate. His first wife, Charlotte Hinch Strongman died in 1895; his second wife, Caroline DeWitt Strongman, in 1936.
Mrs. Caroline Strongman and Mrs. Hortense Miller were known for their philanthropic work in both Bethany and Honesdale. Mrs. Miller passed away in 1961, leaving Bethany Homestead Farms to her son, Byron Miller, Jr. Since her death, houses on the property have been sold and acreage sub-divided. The mansion, barn, and remaining land were sold several times.
During the 1960's and 1970's three fine restaurants were located inside the mansion. Customers dined in an atmosphere rarely seen anywhere but in the movies. The exterior was left in disrepair after a movie was filmed featuring the mansion, but in the late 1980's, Bethany Center, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, made major exterior and interior renovations to the mansion. Bethany Village, a one hundred bed assisted living center, then owned all the remaining property, occupying the former barn, which was renovated.
In October 2010, Monique Greenwood of Brooklyn, hopeful owner of the former Bethany Colony, proposed a destination spa resort to be named, The Mansion at Noble Lane, a wellness center with a fourteen room bed and breakfast. At that time she was under contract to buy the 55 room mansion, complete with playhouse and indoor swimming pool on the remaining nineteen acres around the mansion. Greenwood, former executive editor of Essence Magazine and published author, then owned four other bed and breakfasts.
Text by Marge Hook
Line Drawing by William Amptman
From 1993 through 2008 the Honesdale National Bank published an annual wall calendar, each featured 13 historic sites. The sites were chosen and researched by a committee of the historical society and artwork was commissioned to Judy Hunt and William Amptman by the bank.
This page was one month of the calendar and was made possible through the Wayne County Commissioners and a Tourism Promotion Committee’s Tourism Grant.