Within Philadelphia's extensive Fairmount Park stands a group of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century historic houses, established during the period by prominent families of the city as rural retreats. Located in William Penn's suburban "Liberty Lands," which lie to the north and west of Philadelphia, these houses were an easy ride from the city’s commercial center for the gentleman-merchant. The elevated, forested banks of the Schuylkill River, described by one eighteenth-century observer as being "finely situated for prospect, health, and pleasure," provided beautiful locations for the establishment of these early homes. Some functioned as working farms, including productive dairies, orchards, extensive fields, and game lands, while others provided an elegant, fashionable, and healthy haven from Philadelphia's urban environment, summer heat, and periodic epidemics.The early establishment of what is now Fairmount Park evolved from the concern to preserve the purity of the Schuylkill River, the source of the city's water supply, and to provide the city dweller with recreational park lands. Philadelphia's gradual acquisition of a number of the area’s historic houses, beginning with the city's initial purchase of Lemon Hill in 1844, resulted in the creation of Fairmount Park, one of the largest municipal parks in the country. The development of these great city lands has in turn led to the preservation of what is now considered to be the most significant architectural examples of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century homes in the United States.
Perfectly illustrating the styles, furnishings, and domestic lives of the time, the Fairmount Park historic houses are preserved and maintained today by a number of private and civic organizations and provide the visitor with a unique glimpse into Philadelphia's rich cultural history.
For more information, please contact Visitor Services by phone at (215) 763-8100 or by e-mail at .