Horticultural Magnificence. Scientific Curiousity. And that Blood-Stained Floor. 


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. A massive fruiting Ginkgo tree towers over the property—reputed to have grown from a seedling brought from England in 1754, it is known to be the oldest in existence in America.  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.


A tranquil refuge, the property remains a vibrant center for hands-on education and our Grumblethorpe Youth Volunteers (GYVs) program, including a seasonal organic farm stand.


5267 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19144






Tours will resume by appointment only with limited capacity starting July 11th.

Masks required for entry into the building. 


Every Second Saturday of the Month

May-October from noon-4pm.

Additional visits and tours by appointment only Tuesday-Thursdays between 10am-3pm. 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. 

School Groups should contact grumblethorpe@philalandmarks.org.

NOTE: Open hours may be limited due to special events.

Please email to check availability.

© 2019 by PhilaLandmarks. 321 S. 4th Street Philadelphia, PA 19106  | (215)925-2251