Horticultural Magnificence. Scientific Curiousity. And that Blood-Stained Floor.
GRUMBLETHORPE HOUSE & GARDENS
Sally Wister’s teenage diary was made ever more dramatic by the battles of the American Revolution taking place near her family’s home. "John Wister’s Big House,” a quintessential example of Pennsylvania German architecture, was occupied by British Brigadier-General James Agnew in 1777, just a few days before the Battle of Germantown. While riding to battle ahead of his troops, the General was taken off-guard running headlong into enemy troops some 100 strong. He received a fatal shot in his back as he turned to escape. Agnew’s soldiers--along with this faithful servant Alexander Andrew--carried him back to the house, where he subsequently bled to death on the parlor floor. (Yes, the stain remains!)
The Wister family’s impact on horticulture can still be found within the remaining two acres of flower and vegetable beds.
The massive fruiting Ginkgo central to Grumblethorpe's landscape may be North America’s oldest known living female ginkgo, which is accompanied by a male ginkgo of similar age. William Hamilton of
The Woodlands brought three ginkgo biloba
to North America in 1785, gifting one male ginkgo to John Bartram, which still lives at Bartram's Garden. The ginkgo at Grumblethorpe was planted by Charles Wister Sr around 1830.
Third generation occupant, Charles Wister Sr., is thought to have influenced botanist Thomas Nuttal in the naming of Wisteria sinensis, the climbing vine whose beautiful blue flowers still bloom on the property each spring. Charles Sr., who renamed the house Grumblethorpe, is also noted for his finely-crafted scientific tools—including an observatory he built on site—and his pioneering weather diary which is still referenced today.
5267 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19144
May-October from noon-4pm.
Additional visits and tours by appointment only
Call or email to arrange your visit.
$8 General admission
$6 Students and Seniors
$20 per Family
$5 per person in groups of ten or more.
Groups larger than 25 will be split into two groups with one
tour starting on first floor and the other tour starting on second floor.
$2 admission for ACCESS card holders and their immediate family
Free for all PhilaLandmarks Members and children under 6.
Groups of 10 or more may tour the house by appointment,
with group rates available.
NOTE: Open hours may be limited due to special events.
Please email to check availability.