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Holiday Charms in Fairmount Park: Philadelphia’s Historic 18th-Century Neighborhood

All-Day Tour

Friday, December 7, 2018 - 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Code: 1NDA12

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Cedar Grove (Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Philadelphia in the late 18th century was a powerful and busy center of commerce, and many wealthy citizens sought elegant country retreats to escape the city. The six historic houses in Fairmount Park, along the Schuylkill River, offer a glimpse into the intriguing public and private lives of prominent Philadelphians during an important time in history, just prior to and after the American Revolution.

The houses reflect a range of architectural styles and changes in domestic tastes, from the symmetry of Palladian style to the lightness of the federal, with a love of neoclassicism that continued into the 19th century. Collectively known as the “Charms” of Fairmount Park, three of the houses open their doors to a special holiday-season guided tour for Smithsonian Associates.

They include Lemon Hill, a classically inspired 1800 mansion with unusual oval rooms featuring unique curved doors and fireplaces; the impressive Strawberry Mansion, built around 1789, which incorporates both Federal and Greek Revival styles, and whose grounds include a charming secret garden; and Cedar Grove, a mid-18th century country house whose interior includes an extensive collection of furniture and decorative arts, with many objects from the Quaker family who built it and owned it for generations.

The tour also visits the architecturally significant Fairmount Water Works, a National Historic Landmark. Built in 1815 and with an exterior modeled on a grand country house, the then-innovative pumping station was Philadelphia’s first civic step in providing the city with clean water.

Bill Keene, a lecturer in history, urban studies, and architecture, serves as the tour leader.

Fringe stop at about 8:10 a.m.

Lunch at Chima’s Brazilian Steakhouse is included; a boxed dinner and refreshments are served on the return trip. Note: Lemon Hill is currently unfurnished.

Departs Mayflower Hotel, DeSales St side
1127 Conn. Ave NW; Fringe: DoubleTree
by Hilton, 15101 Sweitzer Ln, Laurel, MD