Get our newsletters

Designer House the latest chapter of Sycamore Lane Farm’s story


For one local family, Sycamore Lane Farm represents the homecoming of a lifetime.

The Hilltown Township property is this year’s Bucks County Designer House & Gardens showcase.

Bound together by threads of history spanning centuries and more than 60 years of Rubel family ownership, the property is being transformed by 35 area interior designers and 14 landscape professionals.

The Bucks County Designer House & Gardens is open to the public April 28 through May 26.

The annual fundraiser hosted by the Village Improvement Association (VIA) of Doylestown, founders of Doylestown Hospital and Doylestown Health, benefits the health and well-being of Doylestown residents and the surrounding communities.

The Rubel legacy

Gina Furia Rubel and her husband Scott Rubel agreed to allow the VIA to host its designer showcase to honor Scott’s late father, Walter L Rubel, and his steadfast commitment to local public service.

“My father-in-law, Walter, was very active in Hilltown and in Upper Bucks communities,” serving on boards, commissions and as president of Pearl S. Buck International, Furia Rubel said.

While the property’s original farmhouse is gone, the current one was built sometime in the late 1800s. Furia Rubel describes the property as a Federal-style brick “gentlemen’s farmhouse.” The property continues to be tenant farmed by a local couple growing corn and soybeans, she said.

Passed down from father to son, the Rubels came into ownership in 2021 and the same year began renovations in preparation for their long-awaited return to live on the property.

Promises exchanged

Furia Rubel loves to cook, and Scott Rubel is an avid gardener. The pair’s passions drove extensive renovation to the home and property, but the promise to one day return to live there was made in 1998 when Scott proposed marriage to Gina in the home.

“The day he proposed in the original living room of the house, I promised to live with him here, if I could have a kitchen for an Italian-American family because we cook big,” Furia Rubel explained.

She wanted to keep the new large space traditional with an aesthetic she defines as “simple elegance.”

Countertops are locally sourced black soapstone with a handcrafted black apron style farm sink.

“None of the cabinets touch the countertops. It’s an L-shaped countertop with a coffee garage, because we drink a lot of coffee,” she said.

Cream-colored Shaker style cabinetry with a copper glaze reaches to the ceiling. Nearly all of the appliances have the same cabinetry built-in look. A six burner stove and oven, along with a second oven “so I can cook Thanksgiving dinner” are part of the kitchen’s workstation fleet.

The primary bedroom is part of the new addition, too, adding windows to allow an abundance of sunlight into the house — a perfect setting for Furia Rubel’s collection of nearly 100 houseplants.

“I love plants, and I’m completely surrounded by them,” she said.

The outdoor gardens will provide a sustainable supply of fresh organic produce to the new kitchen for Furia Rubel to prepare and share with family and friends.

Historic associations

Steeped in history, Rubel’s ancestor Captain William McCalla I (1732-1815) helped capture the infamous Doan Gang during the American Revolutionary War. A group of criminals and British loyalists, The Doan Gang was accused of stealing the Bucks County treasury in 1781. The Mercer Museum will host “The Doan Gang: Outlaws of the Revolution” an exhibition May 3, 2024 through Dec. 31, 2026.

The house was once owned by John Falter — from 1938 to 1953 — an artist and illustrator. Falter converted the property’s chicken coop into his artist’s studio. From about 100 Saturday Evening Post covers to numerous other published works, Falter drew inspiration from local scenes and landscapes, including those at Sycamore Lane Farm.

“John…tied (the studio) in to the milk house and made it an entertainment room. When you walk in from the studio to the milk house John’s hand prints are in the cement,” Furia Rubel said.

As a well-connected artist with many ties to New York City, Falter hosted many famous friends at Sycamore Lane Farm including Katherine Hepburn and Normal Rockwell. He also put on fashion shows at the farm during the 1940s, Furia Rubel said.

“When he was living here it was a retreat from New York (and its bustle) for all of them,” she explained.

A promise kept

Once the couple’s move from Doylestown Borough is complete this spring the engagement promise made nearly three decades ago will come to fruition.

“We are very blessed to be able to take care of (the property) in our lifetime, and our goal will be to pass it down to our children,” Furia Rubel said.

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.