Woodford Mansion was completed in 1758 as a summer home for Judge William Coleman. It Is located in Fairmount Park and is a fine example of late Georgian architecture. It was acquired by the city of Philadelphia in 1868 and served as a park building until it was restored and opened as a house museum in 1930, a role it still fills to this day. It is under the direction of the Naomi Wood Trust and proudly displays the Naomi Wood Collection of antique 18th and 19th century furniture and household goods. Woodford was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1967 and is a part of the larger Fairmount Park Historic District.
Coleman, Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice and friend to Benjamin Franklin (he
was part of Franklin’s Junto or Leather Apron Club), built Woodford on a
12-acre site along the Schuylkill River.
He was also a founder and the first treasurer of the American
Philosophical Society as well as founder of the College of Philadelphia, which
would become the University of Pennsylvania.
This Renaissance man sought a gentleman’s summer retreat for his wife
and adopted son, George Clymer, who went on to be a signatory of both the
Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution.
death in 1769 the home was purchased by Alexander Barclay who then passed a few
years later in 1771. Barclay’s
brother-in-law, David Franks, then became the home’s new owner. He added a second floor and kitchen wing to
Woodford in 1772. Franks owned the home
until 1778 when he was forcibly evicted for being a Loyalist, or supporter of
the English crown during the Revolutionary War.
Woodford was then most likely rented out for a time until it was
purchased by Isaac Wharton in 1793.
Isaac was a relative of Joseph Wharton who founded Penn’s Wharton School
of Business. With the creation of
Fairmount Park, Woodford was then purchased by the city in 1868 from the
It served as
the home to the park’s Chief Engineer and Supervisor and later as the
headquarters for the park guard. It went
through an extensive restoration in 1927 prior to opening as a house museum in
1930. The restoration was precipitated
by the death of Naomi Wood in 1926. Ms.
Wood, part of a well-to-do Philadelphia family, spent a fair part of her life
collecting antique home furnishings and had amassed quite a collection by the
1920s. She, prior to her death, made
plans with her close friend, Daniel Huntoon, to display her collection in a
historic location that would be open to the public. Huntoon, the first trustee of the Naomi Wood
Trust, choose Woodford as that historical location.
(not actually named after Ms. Wood) has been restored to a colonial era home
and Wood’s Collection has elegantly furnished the house. Her collection consists of late 18th
and early 19th century furniture, paintings, English Delftware,
china, decorative arts and also includes Loyalist newspapers from the
Revolutionary War era. The home features
an ornately carved, floor-to-ceiling, fireplace overmantel in the parlor and
original yellow pine floors. Recently,
in 2008, an orchard was added to the grounds, similar to the one that existed
back in 1769 when the home was sold for the first time.