Five of Philadelphia’s historic mansions welcomed guests for the holiday season to visit and see their period decorations. As a bonus, each day had a different theme. “Flavors of the Season” caught my eye….or shall I say taste bud…..so last weekend, with our very first snow on the ground, my friend Liz and I visited.
Say what you will about New York, but Philadelphia really has it going on.
Strawberry Mansion, built in 1789, was William Lewis’ summer home. William Lewis was a judge, lawyer, and most importantly an abolitionist. He wrote the Act (and it passed in 1780) that phased out and eventually abolished slavery in Pennsylvania.
Strawberry Mansion also has some rather flamboyant taste in decor.
Our tasting here was from Giambri Quality Sweets which was giving out over-sized homemade candy canes – very nice – and Manatawney Stillworks which was giving out
In 1756, William Coleman built this Georgian-style mansion as his summer home. For history buffs, William Coleman was a buddy of Benjamin Franklin. He was a merchant and later become a judge. He and his wife raised their orphaned nephew, and that nephew later became a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.
In 1793, Isaac Wharton bought the mansion, and I am pretty sure this is the Wharton family that the prestigious Ivy League University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business is named after. Its probably true because I certainly felt smarter walking through the mansion.
Our tasting at this mansion was New England Clam Chowder from acclaimed Chef Jose Garces. This may be the best clam chowder I ever had: plump clams, tender and flavorful potatoes, and a balanced broth with a hint of thyme and bacon.
This home was probably my favorite to visit. It was built in Northeast Philly in 1748 by Elizabeth Coates Paschall. She was a wealthy widow with 3 children, and the house was occupied by five generations of her family. The house was moved to its current location in 1926.
The kitchen, with its innovative features including a in-home bake oven and a boiler, was impressive.
The two floors of bedrooms were equally impressive, especially the washroom.
The dining room was beautiful and the food was abundant (though it was mostly for display only). Instead, we had tastings from Original XIII Ciderworks and pretzels from Philadelphia Pretzel Factory.
As we were leaving this amazing historic house, I looked back in the window. What a great way to get that holiday spirit.
Our second to last stop was Lemon Hill mansion. This house looked more like a place I would go for Halloween. And the interior with its rounded rooms was just as weird as its history.
Lemon Hill was built by Robert Morris, another patriot and signer of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. He had a huge greenhouse full of lemon trees. But then he made some bad development deals and went bankrupt with the law catching up to him. Henry Pratt took over the property and opened the gardens to the public. After he died in 1838, the city of Philadelphia took it over to protect the cities water supply (as it sits on the river). The property has been many things except not a private home since then.
It really is a beautiful and unique structure. For the holidays they had a beautiful tree with a train going around it.
The “Taste of Philly” guest was the wonderful Shane Confectioneries. The chocolatier was informative, obviously talented, and generous with his tastings. I bought two boxes: one for me and one for a subscriber to this blog. Hmmm I wonder which one.
Some of the interior decorations were, lets say, interesting.
Tomorrow I will take you into the famous Laurel Hill mansion and talk about a very special person we met there.
Thank you for reading.