Initial source information for this story is thanks to Jonathan Daniel of Pittsburgh, PA.

Researched and written by: William L. Passauer

If it hadn’t been for some unforeseen circumstances that occurred during 1910-1911, Joseph C. Sibley would, instead of purchasing and building River Ridge Farm in 1911-1913, would have built a great mansion in Washington D.C. and most probably would have remained there until his death.

The story begins in Washington D.C. with an article in the February 23, 1910 St. Petersburg, FL, “Evening Independent” that a mansion was going to be built by Joseph C. Sibley in Washington D.C. (A link to the newspaper story with the details of the mansion architecture may be found here.)

Image of the proposed Washington D.C. Sibley mansion from “The Pittsburgh Architectural Club, Fifth Exhibition 1910” page 50./J. Daniel

A bid request was published for Sibley’s Washington D.C. mansion during April 1910. We do not know if a wining bid for the mansion was ever accepted. However, we do know that the mansion was never built. After researching The Washington Post archives I believe a combination of issues took place in 1910-1911 that changed Sibley’s plans for the DC mansion. These events included:

  1. During Sept. 1910 Sibley was very ill with heart disease.
  2. In Sept. 1910 Sibley was indicted by a special grand jury for conspiracy to bribe voters.
  3. And in another news article dated Sept. 1911, when his wife was near death in Franklin, PA, the article states that she had been ill for about a year (beginning in 1910) before passing away in July of 1911, and that during the same period, Sibley himself was seriously ill.

In conclusion: by Sept. of 1910 Sibley’s political life was over and both his health and his wife’s health were failing, so they reluctantly moved back to their home 1202 Elk Street, Franklin, PA where his wife died. Then by Nov. of 1911, Sibley’s life had leveled off enough that he purchased River Ridge Farm on November 15, 1911.

The Details of the Above Investigation are Shown Below.
 On September 7, 1910 Joseph C. Sibley was indicted. Washington Post, September 8, 1910.

On September 26, 1910 Joseph C. Sibley was nominated for Congress but declined due to weak heart. Washington Post, September 23, 1911

On July 26, 1911 Metta E. Babcock died of pneumonia before River Ridge was built. Washington Post, July 27, 1911