Strawberry Hill Mansion

After we toured the auto museum, we drove into West Philly, a corner of the city time and money has forgotten. Rows and rows of once beautiful tall row houses, now all in disrepair. Police cars racing with sirens on all around us made for a bit of hesitancy


But we did want to see one of the six Charms of Fairmount Park. Strawberry Hill.


Within the lovely grounds of Fairmount Park, these six “Charms” – the houses maintained as historic house museums – served as the rural summer villas for well-to-do families during the eighteenth- and early-nineteenth century. They are considered among the most significant architectural examples of this time period in the United States

Formerly known as “Summerville,” the center section of Strawberry Mansion was built in the Federal style around 1789 by renowned lawyer, judge and state legislator, William Lewis. During his lifetime, Lewis dominated the American legal field and took on countless high profile cases involving slavery, British debts, privateering, and the Aaron Burr treason case. He is credited for drafting the first law in the US abolishing slavery and was an advisor to both George Washington and Alexander Hamilton.

Summerville’s second prominent resident, Judge Joseph Hemphill, added the two expansive Greek Revival wings which create the exterior of the house as we recognize it today. The name Strawberry Mansion soon followed. Hemphill also had a distinguished record, serving as Judge of Philadelphia’s District Court, elected six times to Congress and serving three terms in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives

We had the place to ourselves – us and the guide. The interior of the home is “meh”, decorated interpretively to the period but with all new fabrics that were odd. And walls painted such strange colors.

Staged to look like a tavern but never was a tavern. Odd.


For a minute I thought we were in Las Vegas.


A painted mural done in 2009. Not very pretty.





I did have my eye on several sweet light fixtures. Any one of these would do nicely in Bedford.




This is the only original fireplace.


From the back side, probably beautiful in its day.


Let me just say it isn’t Winterthur! It wasn’t too far out of our way but it was a huge disappointment and not worth the time. The house has been chopped up and redone and doesn’t remotely feel historic. Like someone’s idea of what should be historic. Oh well, it was only $5.00. Glad we saw it today and done. I guess for me, growing up with Winterthur at my back door, I’m spoiled.

2 thoughts on “Strawberry Hill Mansion

  1. Wish I were along. You and your friends take the best trips.

    I’ve been through two of the six Charms, those much better than what you saw. Bummer you picked the dud.

    Looks like you have a perfect sunny day. Go Eagles??

    1. You will never hear me utter the words Go Eagles.
      Off for a long fun day. First stop Eastern Penitentiary. I’m going to see if they can prepare a cell for HRC!!

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