text: seven walking tours through historic Philadelphia


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Woodford mansion has been owned by a succession of prominent Philadelphians, notably jurist William Coleman, a member of Benjamin Franklin's intellectual scholarly group, the Junto, and David Franks, a signer of the Non-Importation Agreement of 1765 (signers would not buy goods from Great Britain until the Stamp Act was repealed). His daughter Rebecca was one of the belles feted at the "Meschianza," and her letters are evocative recreations of the time. Rebecca, however, married General Sir Henry Johnson, spending her declining years in Bath, England. She often remarked how she missed Philadelphia and its ways. Her father's property was confiscated because of his Loyalist leanings.

Once the scene of Tory gaiety during the British occupation of Philadelphia, Woodford now stands as a living monument to the past. Its appeal today is greater for it displays to great advantage in its Georgian rooms the remarkable Naomi Wood collection of American antiques. The house was remodeled in 1756 by William Coleman from an earlier, smaller house built about 1735. Franks, George III's Controller of Customers, made further improvements including the addition of the second floor with its elegant Palladian window.

July 11, 2003, the mansion suffered fire losses, damaging some of the rare artifacts and extending to the upper floors of the building.

The next stop on the tour is yet another mansion, Strawberry Hill. It's located somewhat north and to the west of Woodford. Use the map above as a guide to get there.

Fairmount Park