The property on which local historian Ned Harrington lived in Carversville (Bucks County, Pa.) has a long, complex history. At times a school, a resort, a sanitarium, and an orphanage, chronicling the property's tangled background might have taken a lesser historian decades.
On the location of Harrington's house, The Excelsior Normal School opened in 1859. The equivalent of a junior college dedicated to training teachers, over 1,000 students attended Excelsior before the school shut its doors in 1873. The property was next turned into an upscale summer resort, Hill-Side Home and Pleasure Park, in operation from 1874 to 1894. After the resort went bankrupt, the land was sold at sheriff's sale to John Robbins. Dr. Henry Waite ran a sanitarium there from 1904 to 1907 until the Robbins family returned it to use as private residence. For about 15 years, Hillside was the home of Mrs. Nell Robbins and her sisters, Sallie and Lizzie Worthington.