Originally known as Summerville, the Strawberry Mansion was completed in 1789 at the direction of Judge William Lewis. Judge Lewis had purchased the land and original buildings along the Schuylkill River in 1783, at the conclusion of the American Revolution. The city of Philadelphia acquired the mansion in 1867 and turned over care of it to a women’s organization known as the Committee of 1926 who had it restored from 1927-1931. The largest of the Fairmount Park mansions, it is now one of the premier period home museums in the area and is listed on Philadelphia’s Register of Historic Places.
Lewis was born into a Quaker family in 1751 and passed the bar both before and
after the Revolutionary era. He was
known for defending fellow Quakers accused of treason for not fighting during
the Revolution, thus establishing the legal precedent of conscientious
objection. A friend of George of
Washington, he was appointed to a federal post by the first president and
advised Alexander Hamilton regarding the creation of the First Bank of the
United States. He also drafted and
helped pass Pennsylvania’s Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery in 1780
which was the first legal action against slavery in the country’s history.
at Strawberry Mansion in 1819 and the house was rented out until 1821 when
another judge, Joseph Hemphill, purchased it.
It was the Hemphill family that added the two Greek revival wings to the
original Federal style home sometime around 1828, to include a ballroom. Hemphill, aside from being a lawyer and
judge, also served in the House of Representatives from 1819-1831 and was
involved with manufacturing Tucker and Hemphill porcelain. Judge Hemphill passed in 1842 and the home
was sold to George Crock who leased out the home and grounds. It was during this time that it came to be
known as Strawberry Mansion as one of the leasees was famous for serving
strawberries and cream. In 1867, Crocker
sold the estate to the city and the area around it came to be known as East
Committee of 1926 had formed around the celebrations of the sesquicentennial of
the Declaration of Independence and stayed together as a historical
preservation organization that took it upon itself to restore Strawberry
Mansion, which it did from 1927-1931. It
has been a period museum house ever since and went through another restoration
from 2009-2013, to include the Banquet Room mural project.
mansion features numerous rooms that have been furnished and are maintained by
various organizations. Among its
collections are the Sesquicentennial and Millennium Doll Collections and Esther
Ann McFarland room that features a display of Tucker and Hemphill Porcelain. The mansion rooms that are open for public viewing
include the ballroom that features French furniture from General George Cadwalder,
the attic that holds a toy collection, the library/reception room, the Lewis
Parlor, Jefferson Dining Room, and the Gillingham and Empire bedrooms.