River Ridge Gate House – 9 on the plot map

The foreman responsible for the building of the River Ridge mansion, Ernesto Grandelis, lived here with his family of five children. The family was permitted to live in the the gate house even after Ernesto Grandelis suffered an untimely death at age 40 caused by stone dust. The Grandelis children would go to school in a horse drawn carriage and in the winter via a horse drawn sleigh. The children of Franklin made fun of them, but I find it very romantic.

This is where Mr. Sibley would meet his guests arriving from Franklin for the 3 mile journey to the mansion. He did so because he felt the cliff facing the Allegheny river made the roadway dangerous.

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The view seen by guests arriving from Franklin, PA. Painting by Albert T. Grandelis.
The Franklin Gate House as it sits in 2007. The road has been diverted so it no longer passes through the house gate.
The front of the Franklin Gate house in 2007.
The left side of the Franklin Gate house. The roof of the mansion originally had red tile like this.
Aug. 10, 2008 – The following information was relayed to my wife today by her cousin’s wife, Judy Grandelis. Judy told Suzanne of a young couple that she knows who use to live in the gate house. They told her that while they lived there, a “good sprit” whom they named, “Marie” also lived with them. They believed the sprit looked over their baby, keeping her safe. On several occasions, they watched as their rocking chair rocked on its own, on another occasion the mother watched as the baby’s blanked covered their baby–by itself. They also told of a night light that seemed to automatically turn itself on, even though it had to be manually turned on using a switch.
The Franklin gatehouse porch (former drive through area). / 2009 T. Weldon
The Franklin Gate House in the Winter time. / 2009 T. Weldon
The Cold cellar behind the Franklin gatehouse./ T. Weldon
The pond to the left of the Franklin gatehouse. Its a shallow pond but there were koi in it at one time. / T. Weldon


The Grandelis Family Lived in the Franklin Gate House from about 1914 to 1945.

For access to the Grandelis Family Tree website, click here.

Ernesto Louis Grandelis (26 Dec 1884 – 13 Nov 1925).
Ernesto and his wife Edith Virginia Grandelis.
Ernesto Louis Grandelis was the foreman responsible for the building of the River Ridge Mansion, all of the stone out buildings, and the stone bridges and fences. He died in the bedroom of the Franklin Gate House at the age of 40 from inhaling stone dust. His last request was for a glass of buttermilk which his wife, Virginia, brought to him. See more pictures of Ernesto on the History page.
About 1916: Virginia’s sister, Rose, holding Henry; Mary, Edith and Albert in front; and Ernest was not born yet. They are just left of the drive-through gate where the brush is in the next picture. Notice the large bows in the girls’ hair.
Virginia Grandelis: mother of Mary, Albert, Edith, Henry and Ernest; in front of the drive-through gate with brush growing where the previous picture was taken. My mother-in-law, Millie Grandelis, remembers that when Virginia (a good Italian wife) would cook, there was always a ton of food served including three meats at each meal.

Virginia (Colloto) Grandelis 22 Oct 1891 to Nov 1976
Rose (Colloto) Bonomo May 1900 to Jan 1976
Edith Marie 3 Mar 1908 to 22 May 1965
Albert Theodore 18 May 1909 to 25 May 1994
Mary Elizabeth 28 Feb 1913 to 11 May 2005
Henry Leonard Hammond 19 Apr 1915 to 4 Oct 1984
Ernest Louis 20 Apr 1920 to 4 Jul 1982
The Grandelis family dog, Stubby. Notice the wrought iron gate and the drive-through gate in the different views.
Albert Grandelis, age 18, 1927 Franklin, PA High School graduation picture.
Albert Grandelis’ sisters Mary Elizabeth “Betty” and Edith. Notice how small the trees were in the background.
The only time Albert Grandelis had a “B” on his report card was in the year his father Ernesto Grandelis passed away. Albert Grandelis, my father-in-law, became the man of the house at the early age of 16 when his father died. He managed his mother’s home on River Ridge with his two younger brothers (Henry and Ernest ) and his two younger sisters (Edith and Mary). Albert was placed in charge of all of the farm children during the Summer months to earn money for the family. He and his family lived in the Gate House well into the 1940s while Sibley’s two daughters were still running the farm. My mother-in-law went to the Gate House when she was dating Albert.