Ebenezer Maxwell and his wife, Anna Smith Maxwell, were builders and first occupants of the Maxwell Mansion. The Maxwell family had lived in the house only three years when they sold the Mansion to William and Rosalie Hunter.

The Maxwell Family

Ebenezer Maxwell was born on a farm in upstate New York in 1827. In his early twenty’s, he moved to Philadelphia to take a job as a salesman for a wholesale drug importer. Two years later, he went into the dry goods business with William Bangs. He and Bangs met in their city rooming house. They bought textiles from manufacturers, sold that material to jobbers, who sold the finished clothing to stores. In 1853 Maxwell married his second cousin, Anna Smith, daughter in a well-to-do Quaker family. That same year Anna’s father died and her inheritance contributed to the expansion of the Maxwell and Bangs textile trade. With their children, the Maxwells joined many other families who fled the city for the tranquility of the suburbs. As business prospered, Ebenezer became the director of a bank and charter member of the church across the street. He died from typhoid fever when he was only 43. His widow, Anna, lived another 36 years. Of the six Maxwell children, three died during childhood.

Rosalie Cecilia Hunter | Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion

In 1862, Ebenezer Maxwell sold the newly-built mansion to William and Rosalie Cecilia (Allan) Hunter. In 1855 William Hunter, Jr. was listed in McElroy’s City Directory as a salesman. He married Rosalie Allan on January 30, 1851. The Hunters had five children: William Allan, who died as an infant, Helena, Frances Allan, Rosalie Cecilia and Allan.

From 1857 until 1863 William Hunter, Jr. was a partner in a clothing store; however, in 1863 he shifted from the clothing business to coal. Success soon followed and he was held in high esteem by his peers until his untimely death in 1867. Quoting from the Public Ledger of October 31, 1867:

“Mr. Hunter, whose death was occasioned by a fall from one of the windows of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, in New York, was not subject to fits. The supposition in respect to the accident is, that he stepped upon a rocking chair to look out the window, and while opening the sash, the chair tilted and threw him head long out. He had taken off his coat, as if to retire.”

After the death of William Hunter, Jr., Rosalie married Howard A. Stevenson. Rosalie and Howard Stevenson had one daughter, Augusta Rosalie “Gussie”. After the death of her mother in 1910 and her father in 1931, Gussie lived in the house until her death in January 1956. The Mansion had been in the Hunter-Stevenson family for ninety-six years.