The elegant and historic Fairmount Park Houses will once more be "homes for the holidays" when they host the Park House Christmas Tours from Friday, December 6, through Wednesday, December 11, 1996. To complement the exhibition devoted to the Peale family of early American artists on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (November 3, 1996, through January 5, 1997), this year's Christmas Tours will explore "Family Christmas Traditions in Fairmount Park." Seven Fairmount Park Houses as well as the Horticulture Center will be open for general admission from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day of the Park House Christmas Tours, and will be specially (and often "a-Peale-ingly") decorated to match the following "Family Christmas" themes:
- "The Morris and Peale Cousins Meet for a Sledding Party" at Cedar Grove
- "Samuel Breck Invites Rembrandt Peale and His Family for a Neoclassical Christmas" at Sweetbriar
- "Winter Wonderland" at the Horticulture Center
- "Henry Pratt Toasts His Father, Matthew Pratt, and Charles Willson Peale at a Holiday Housewarming" at Lemon Hill
- "Mary Ann Macpherson Unwraps Her Peale Portrait at the Family's Christmas Party" at Mount Pleasant
- "William Rawle's Family and Friends Gather for Christmas Caroling" at Laurel Hill
- "George Clymer Remembers Family Holidays with Judge Coleman" at Woodford
- "Raphaelle Peale Joins the Hemphills for a Christmas Tea" at Strawberry Mansion
General admission tickets for the Park House Christmas Tours are $12.00 for adults, $5.00 for children, and can be purchased at any of the Park Houses, the Horticulture Center and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. General admission tickets may also be purchased in advance at the Philadelphia Museum of Art beginning in November, or by mail order. Candlelight Evening Tours, featuring three of the Park Houses decorated and lighted as they were in the 18th- and 19th-centuries, will take place from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. on December 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 and 11, and cost $35.00 per person; call (215) 684-7926 for information about Candlelight Evening Tours.
Daytime Trolley Tours are $20.00 for adults, $5.00 for children, and can be arranged by calling Choo-Choo Trolley at (215) 333-2119. Special dinner packages will also be available with such fine local restaurants as The Garden and Le Bec-Fin; call (215) 684-7926 for dinner package information. For recorded information about the Fairmount Park Houses, call (215) 684-7922; TDD for deaf callers is (215) 684-7600.
Fairmount Park is the largest municipal park in the United States, and the Fairmount Park Houses are considered to be the most significant group of 18th- and early 19th- century examples of domestic architecture in the United States. Illustrating over a century and a half of style, fashion and domestic life, the historic houses of Fairmount Park are preserved and maintained by a number of private and civic organizations (including the Philadelphia Museum of Art) and provide the visitor with a unique glimpse into Philadelphia's rich cultural history.
The Peale Family: Creation of an American Legacy, 1770-1870 is made possible in Philadelphia by First Union National Bank. The exhibition will present some 200 works of art created by two generations of the noted Philadelphia Peale family of artists and naturalists. The Philadelphia Museum of Art will be the first venue for the show, which has been organized by the Trust for Museum Exhibitions, and will be accompanied by a citywide celebration of the Peales and their times.