Some houses tell their
stories only to
but Strawberry Mansion's
story is plainly visible. Its
two houses of course (or
three actually). The
original farm house was a
three bay farmhouse from
the 1750's which was
expanded to five bays by
its most famous owner
William Lewis. Lewis
(1751-1819) was one of
the many unsung heroes
in a generation of heroes.
1788 - 1832
A distinguished Quaker lawyer and supporter of the revolution, he spent much of the
post-revolutionary era defending people who refused to take Pennsylvania's loyalty
oaths. As important were his abolitionist efforts which finally resulted in his drafting the
act that set into motion the abolition of slavery on the Commonwealth - the first process
of its kind in the new United States.
Lewis's remodeling of the original farm house was plain on the outside but there were
many elegant, if not showy, interior details like the four niches with classical surrounds
in the foyer (probably for portrait busts) and beautiful punch and gouge chair rails. The
mantle pieces are carved with applied figures - a less expensive alternative to the fine
carving found in the Powell House.
So far so good but the real fireworks start at the two massive Greek revival additions
on either end added by the next occupants - the Hemphil family who operated one of
the first American porcelain factories. In keeping with more elaborate entertaining of
the period, the pavilion on the left is a large ball room on the ground floor with
bedrooms above. The pavilion on the right encased what had been a separate kitchen
on the ground floor and a formal dining room on the second floor with connection
winding servant's stair and dumb waiter to the kitchen below. Both of these rooms are
spectacular high ceilinged rooms with enormous windows creating light filled spaces.
On the outside, stucco scored like stone and large volute forms at the cornice are
elements of a stripped down version of the Greek revival style.
Two Greek Revival grafted onto
a mid-eighteenth century
Georgian House is more
imposing than graceful. Never
the less, some of the interiors
reach not to be missed status
and the interior details are
The house is furnished with furniture from the eerily 19th century, including by an amazing
set of French Restoration furniture bought by George Cadwalader in 1835 known
because the receipt still exists. Also not to be missed is an early piano-forte and a great
tall case clock. The furniture collection makes it a must see for enthusiasts.