GMercyU: Home of the “Real” James Bond
Are you a 007 fan? You might not know that James Bond’s character was named after a man who lived on GMercyU's campus more than 100 years ago.
The “real” James Bond was born in 1900 in Philadelphia and was a respected ornithologist (expert on birds) and author of a book called Birds of the West Indies.
Bond spent several years of his childhood at his family’s country estate in Gwynedd Valley, PA, which is now GMercyU’s Assumption Hall (shown in the photo at top).
James Bond movies were originally based on a series of famous spy novels written by Ian Fleming. Fleming shared our Bond’s love of birds. As legend has it, when Fleming was choosing a name for 007, he noticed Bond's name on the cover of one of his birdwatching books. So, Fleming settled on Bond… James Bond for the character.
About Assumption Hall
The Bond family built the Georgian-style mansion in 1906-07, calling it "Willow Brook." After just a few years, Mrs. Bond died, leading to the sale of the estate in 1914 to Roland Leslie Taylor.
Taylor renamed it "Treweyrn" after the creek that flows through the property. Taylor's family lived there until 1947, a year after Taylor's death, when the property was purchased by the Sisters of Mercy to house their Academy and future junior college.
Today, Assumption Hall houses the offices of GMercyU’s President, University Advancement, Mission Integration, the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, and the Marketing Department. This magnificent building is the oldest on campus and is known to many as the “James Bond House.”
Assumption Hall is also appropriately home to a ghost story: According to a 1992 Gwynmerican yearbook interview with Marjorie DiSimone (former Dean of Admissions), the fabled ghost of Serita Reed allegedly haunts the stairwell of Assumption Hall, dressed in her debutante gown. Reed was the cousin of James Bond. Some believe Reed grew up on the premises, but DeSimone said it is probably more likely that she just visited the Bonds there.
As the legend goes, the Bonds threw a debutante ball for Reed, who descended the stairs to the party wearing her debutante gown. After passing away, Reed haunted the stairwell in that dress, said DiSimone, who was also quick to point out that the story was never substantiated but rather possibly conjured up for fun by students who lived in Assumption Hall at the time.
Get a 007-style tour of campus, including Assumption Hall, below.