In 1783 Judge William Lewis, a Quaker, purchased this wooded land near the falls of the Schuylkill River. Remodeling an earlier structure, he completed the central portion of this house by 1790. While Philadelphia was still the capital of the United States he entertained his good fiends President George Washington and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.
“Summerville”, Lewis’s new house, reflected the balanced simplicity of early Federal architecture. The central entrance hall leads from the front door to the back gardens as in many of the older Georgian houses. The interior details are more delicate than those in nearby Woodford and Mount Pleasant.
Judge Joseph Hemphill bought Summerville in the 1820’s to enhance his social and political position. He added the flamboyant Greek revival wings to the house and entertained John C. Calhoun of South Carolina and the French Marquis de Lafayette. His son Coleman built a racetrack here, raised Dalmatian dogs, and grew strawberries from roots imported from Chile. When Hemphill invited Daniel Webster of Massachusetts to a political banquet to help unite northern and
Hemphill later bought a partnership in Philadelphia’s Tucker China Factory, one of the first American makers of true porcelain. Today rare examples of Tucker porcelain are on display in the library.
Strawberry Mansion became City property in 1868 and is the largest house in Fairmount Park. Furnished in a medley of styles popular during the mansion’s various ownerships, the house is maintained by the Committee of 1926 and the Fairmount Park Commission. (Inscription under the photo in the upper left) Empire and Regency furniture in library; Tucker porcelain in cabinet to left. Doorways lead to eighteenth century parlor.
(Inscription under the photo in the lower left)
William Lewis, portrait by Gilbert Stuart.
(Inscription under the photo in the lower right)
(Inscription under the photo in the upper right)
Location. 39° 59.652′ N, 75° 11.424′ W. Marker is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia County. Marker is on Strawberry Mansion Drive. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2450 Strawberry Mansion Drive, Philadelphia PA 19132, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. William Lewis (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Benj. H. Hodgson (approx. ¼ mile away); Capt. Henry J. Biddle (approx. 0.4 miles away); Commercial Digital Computer Birthplace (approx. 0.6 miles away); Rear Admiral John Adolphus Bernard Dahlgren (approx. 0.6 miles away); Henry O. Tanner (approx. 0.7 miles away); Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett (approx. 0.7 miles away); Charles Thomson (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Philadelphia.
Categories. • Abolition & Underground RR • Politics •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 18, 2015, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. This page has been viewed 190 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on May 18, 2015, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.