Saturday, September 27th, is the day with a free invite to visit an historic garden, mansion and park or two, thanks to the Smithsonian Magazine’s annual Museum Day offering. Among their affiliated museums, are a six-pack of historic properties, gardens and mansions in our area that are worthy of this excuse to visit.
Three historic gardens and mansions in PA
While it is true that the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College is free every day, consider this a reminder to make time to stroll the expansive 300-acreage campus. The college landscape acts as an oasis for the 24 specific garden collections spread throughout its grounds. Functioning as a living memorial to Arthur Hoyt Scott, of the class of 1895, the arboretum maintains over 4,000 types of plants and collections dating to the 1930s. Scott Arboretum is wonderfully diverse in style and garden interest and includes the captivating Cunningham House, a mansion from 1887. Dating to 1758, the Woodford Mansion, in east Fairmount Park, is another site to explore. Built by William Coleman, one of Benjamin Franklin’s close friends, the structure sits regally on the cool banks of the Schuylkill River, as one of the last remaining summer retreats of early wealthy Philadelphians. This impressive Georgian-style mansion held significant connections to Colonial Philadelphia and the American Revolution which you can imagine as you stand on its grounds. Wander through the mansion, now operated by Naomi Wood Trust, and the exceptional furnishings, matched to the period, will help you feel transported to when some lived like royalty in this prime location. Germantown is the site of another great visit to Philadelphia of the past. Dating to 1690, the historic Wyk House is a landmark property of preserved traditional Quaker culture. This 2.5 acre property served as the ancestral home to the Wister-Haines family from 1690-1973 and continues to maintain the original house, garden and farm. Wander among the oldest rose garden in America with more than 80 historic roses, the 1914 Lord Burnham glass greenhouse, and farm restored in 2007. Continuing in Quaker tradition, the farm naturally maintains vegetable and flower beds, herbs and fruit trees, as well as, laying hens and several beehives. Plan to return without the Smithsonian freebee offer for The Farmer’s Market at Wyck on Fridays and Behind the Fence festivals. The next festival will be October 4th.
Three wonders in Wilmington with long history
Wilmington, Delaware has ample history to share including three with grounds to explore. Rockwood Museum and Park has both and an historic Victorian mansion of gothic style and presence. Set on 72 acres of beautiful garden-style parkland, Rockwood is intriguing inside and out. While the park grounds are open from dawn until dusk, museum tours are at no charge thanks to Smithsonian’s freebee offer. The Old Swedes Historic Site dates back to 1638, as the oldest church building in the U.S. that remains active. Supporting some of the Delaware Valley’s earliest settlers, this site includes the Old Swedes Church, of 1699, burial grounds that dte back to 1638, and the Swedish Hendrickson farmhouse, of 1690. All remain remarkably preserved on the choice location along the Delaware River. Walk-in tours are offered to learn more of this historic site, as well as, the 2001 labyrinth that is a replica of the Chartres Cathedral in France. Relax, free your mind, and appreciate this historic landmark. The Hagley Museum is also worthy of your visit. A preserved former DuPont Company industrial site, Hagley was founded in 1802 for black power. Set on 235 lovely wooded acres, the works demonstrate great resourcefulness of the original workers, as well as, the powerful use of the Brandywine River. The 19th-century powder yards display stone ruins of the black power industry and the only still-operating roll mill in America. Plan your visit to Hagley carefully as it can easily last a full day. The museum includes transportation to three related area sites, and there is always the beautiful grounds to explore and simply enjoy.
Rules of freebee engagement
Saturday, September 27th is Museum Day Live! This annual promotion of the Smithsonian Magazine is coordinated with Smithsonian institutions, affiliate museums and other historically connected organizations. To gain your free entry, log-on to download your ticket. While there are no restrictions as to how many participating sites you choose to visit for free, time may be the challenge. Be sure to plan well to enjoy the most.