William Hamilton's Schuylkill River Residence & Pleasure Gardens"Nature, always simple, employs but four materials in composition of her scenes, ground, wood, water, and rocks. The culmination of nature has introduced a fifth species, the building requisite for the accommodation of men." Thomas Whately, Observations on Modern Gardening (1771).
1775-William Hamilton is born to Andrew Hamilton II, & Mary Till; 1747-Andrew Hamilton dies; 1766-William inherits 300 acres on the west bank of the Schuylkill; 1767-Construction of a Georgian residence with a portico & garden commences; 1776-Declaration of Independence signed in Philadelphia; 1778-British Occupation of Philadelphia; 1784-Hamilton visits England; 1786-Return to the Woodlands & rebuilding of the mansion & gardens; 1792-Carriage house and stable and gate lodges completed; 1813-William Hamilton dies.
Before the development of Woodlands Cemetery in 1840, 600 acres along the Schuylkill River from Market Street to 42nd were owned by William Hamilton, grandson of the noted lawyer and Pennsylvania statesman, Andrew Hamilton. William inherited 300 acres of this land from his grandfather through his father in1766 when he turned 21. He expanded his holdings until his death in 1813. William received a classical education at what became the University of Pennsylvania (then located at 4th Street, south of Arch) and through his family was learned in all the arts. Independently wealthy and a bachelor, he used his interest in architecture, botany and horticulture—-cultivated from the English ideal—-to develop his estate. He built a stone and stuccoed Georgian mansion with a two-story porch overlooking the Schuylkill. Collecting and propagating trees and plant species from all over the world was one his delights, and for this he build a greenhouse near the mansion. The culmination of the design of the house and landscape occurred after a two-year trip to England between 1784 and 1786.
Upon his return Hamilton rebuilt his house and gardens into the grandest neoclassical "country scat" and pleasure gardens known in America at that time. British design aesthetics influenced him to architecturally integrate new gate houses, a carriage house and stable, and an expanded mansion and greenhouse into a landscape plan. The architecture was influenced by shapes such as ovals, arches, and classical details. The gardens were developed and expanded for pleasure and included a kitchen garden. Thomas Jefferson, who had visited Hamilton's gardens, wrote in 1806 that they were "the only rival which I have known in America to what may be seen in England."
Today only Hamilton's mansion and carriage house and stable stand, but part of the main roadway from the gate house to the mansion remains within the cemetery road system. The Ginkgo tree, first planted here by Hamilton, flourishes now across the country.Supported in part by the Challenge Cost Share Program, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Woodlands Trust for Historic Preservation. Designed by Charu Chaudhry.
|Marker Condition||No reports yet|
|Date Added||Saturday, September 13th, 2014 at 6:52pm PDT -07:00|
|UTM (WGS84 Datum)||18S E 482589 N 4421728|
|Decimal Degrees||39.94550000, -75.20380000|
|Degrees and Decimal Minutes||N 39° 56.73', W 75° 12.228'|
|Degrees, Minutes and Seconds||39° 56' 43.80" N, 75° 12' 13.68" W|
|Driving Directions||Google Maps|
|Area Code(s)||215, 267, 610|
|Closest Postal Address||At or near 701-799 S 42nd St, Philadelphia PA 19104, US|
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