Philadelphia VIPs celebrated the official Grand Reopening of Historic Strawberry Mansion in Fairmount Park. The four-year restoration and preservation efforts of the largest historic house in Fairmount Park, including its collection of antiques, fine art and collectible treasures from the 18th and 19th century, were on display. A cocktail reception was provided by Brûlée Catering.
A never-before-seen mural, The Portage Trail to Strawberry Mansion, painted by Dot Bunn and Patrick Connors (below), was unveiled in the upstairs dining room.
Below, from left: Emily Afflitto, site manager at Historic Strawberry Mansion, and Beth Kowalchick, president The Commitee of 1926 and Historic Strawberry Mansion, in the restored living room. Back in the day, wealthy Philadelphia families had summer cottages along the Schuylkill river. One of the more outstanding mansions was built by Judge William Lewis, and it was known as the Lewis mansion, and then Strawberry Mansion. Judge Lewis was a contemporary of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton and drafter of An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery. (Pennsylvania was the first state to abolish slavery.)
Below, from left: Joan Kuhinka, board of directors, Historic Strawberry Mansion, William Inglesby and Christine Kuhinka, Junior League of Philadelphia member, pause from their discussion of pewter cups.
Below: Philip Metcalfe and DeeDee Heyward pose for a photo, before heading down to the basement for the Geo Tour. Tour guides talk about the newly restored floorboards and foundation of the building for interested guests.
Below: Alfred and Sandra Pfaff.
Below, from left: Mark Focht, first deputy commissioner, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation , Darren Fava, special assistant to the executive director at Fairmount Park, and Tyson Gardner, tour guide and the docent at Laurel Hill Mansion. They are thrilled with the completion of Strawberry Mansion, and are excited that the public will be able to enjoy its splendor for years.
Below, from left: Kerstin Hoeldtke, Mrs. Katarina Sheronas, corresponding secretary of Board of Directors, Kym Sheronas, Peter Sheronas and Diana Brown.
Below, from left: Gloria Walker and Joyce Horsey. You have to see the doll collection on the third floor, I was told. I did see it, and it’s amazing. The dolls represent each state (updated with revised editions as recently as 2000), and dollhouses that date to 1840.
Below: Joe and Elizabeth Zach. Strawberry Mansion is made up of 14 rooms on three floors. Visitors will enjoy the wealth of Federal Period furniture throughout the house, as well as plates, cups and silverware used during the period. There’s also a copy of Judge Lewis’ draft of the abolitionist act. This is truly both an historian’s and a collector’s paradise.
Below, from left: Frank Newell, Dr. J. Brien Murphy, Margaret Murphy, board member, and J. Brien Murphy Jr.
Below, from left: recording secretary Mrs. Constance Ragsdale, Barry Trevor and Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati.
Below: Marijka Hoczko, program manager at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, and Chet Wichowski, associate director of the Center for Career & Technical Education at Temple University. Chet volunteers at Fort Mifflin and told me about their paranormal nights, where guests go on a guided, candlelight tour, highlighting recent evidence of paranormal activity. He tells me the next one is Friday, November 1st, 7 p.m. till midnight .
Below; Ruth Fletcher and William Inglesby (both of American Historical Theatre) in the newly restored dining area at Strawberry Mansion. For more information about the Historic Strawberry Mansion, its collections and restoration efforts, or to schedule a tour, please visit the new website: historicstrawberrymansion.org
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