Not many cities in the United States get to have a youth hostel in an 1802 Federal era
mansion. Originally built as a country house, it is situated on a bluff above the Schuylkill.
As a hostel, what Chamounix lacks in transit access, it makes up for in seclusion and
privacy. The setting is beautiful with almost no visual intrusion of the outside world.
The house itself, with its hipped roof and semi-circular projection on the south side
creating curved interior spaces is solidly of the Federal Style. Take special note of the
tall wide windows, particularly on the ground floor front of the house. The front and rear
porches integrate the house nicely with the surroundings and they appear in historical
photographs from the mid 1800's.
The original house had a simple interior arrangement with one room and a stair hall on
the ground floor and four rooms on each of the two upper floors made it one of the
small style summer house - closer originally to Ormiston and Rockland than Mt
A later owner enlarged the house, almost doubling its size, in the 1850's when the
house was modified to be a year around residence, but in 1867 the house was
acquired by Fairmount Park. It went through a variety of uses and in spite of a very
damaging fire in the 1950's it was converted to a hostel, at about that time. Some
interior details remain on the ground floor and it's refreshing to see a house in actual
residential use rather than just a museum.
Starting out in life as a small
Federal era summer house, this
mansion was expanded in the
mid eightenth century.
Converted to a hostel in the