Click for Home Page Springfield Township Historical Society 
P.O. Box 564
Flourtown, PA 19031
May 15th Early Country Homes - EMLEN HOUSE and LAVEROCK HILL
Presented by Mr. Ed Zwicker IV - See below
May 17th Emlen House TOUR and Ice Cream Social
- See below
October 19th BLOOMFIELD FARM DAY at the Morris Arboretum
For $5 Off Coupon - Click here. More information to be posted soon.
November 7th HISTORY IN MOTION Event at the historic Phil-Mont Christian Academy
Save the Date! More Information to be posted soon.
Early Country Homes -

presented by

Mr. Ed Zwicker IV

Thursday, May 15th, 2014 at 7:30 pm

First Presbyterian Church
Bethlehem Pike and East Mill Road in Flourtown, PA

Emlen House circa 1900
Emlen House circa 1900

Come join the Springfield Township Historical Society on Thursday, May 15th, at 7:30 p.m., as we host a presentation entitled Early Country Homes: Emlen House and Laverock Hill.

Located just over the northwest border of Springfield Township, in Upper Dublin, sits one of the area's oldest and least known historic homes: Emlen House. This grand home remained a private residence throughout its first 250 plus years of existence. The George Emlen family occupied the house from the time of its construction in the 1730's until 1812, at which time it passed through a succession of famous and not-so-famous hands. Yet during the last century, only three different families have called this grand house their home. The wealthy wine merchant George Emlen Jr. originally constructed a farm house at 1616 Pennsylvania Avenue in Springfield for his summer residence, while living in Philadelphia full time, as did his English immigrant parents before him. George Jr. purchased land across Pennsylvania Avenue in Springfield and Upper Dublin Townships, and built the more famous Emlen House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Both Emlen houses still stand today. And what history they have both seen pass by their doors! With the British occupation of Philadelphia in 1777, the Emlen family permanently moved to their Whitemarsh Valley home. They played host to General George Washington from November 2, 1777 through December 11, 1777 in the main house, while his staff stayed at the original farmhouse across the street. From this headquarters, Washington directed his troops who were entrenched across Militia, Camp, Fort, and Edge Hills. They successfully repelled General Howe's British troops in a series of skirmishes across these ridges and valleys, before moving onto Valley Forge for their more famous winter encampment. Emlen House and its surrounding property would later expand, contract, and expand again as its succeeding owners molded it to their own family's tastes and needs. Today we are fortunate to have this well preserved Colonial era country home in our own backyard, although it is currently owned by a developer, so its future is uncertain.

Moving back to the eastern edge of Springfield Township, sitting astride both Springfield and Cheltenham, is the Gilded Age era estate of Laverock Hill. In the latter half of the 19th century this consisted of a house and 23 acres of farmland owned by James Brooks. In 1892 he would sell it to John Clarke Sims, Jr., the secretary of the Pennsylvania Reading Railroad Company, who subsequently commissioned the architectural firm of Cope & Stewardson to raze the original house and build him a suitable country residence looking out over the Whitemarsh Valley. This Jacobean style residence, originally named Falcon Hill, was host to many high society events hosted by the Sims. When John Sims died prematurely at the aged of 55, the property was put up for sale, and rented until a buyer could be found. During this time an heiress by the name of Miss Julia Garrett passed away and left the bulk of her estate to her stock broker, Isaac Tatnall Starr. He purchased Falcon Hill in 1915, and hired architect Charles Platt to remodel and enlarge the main house, and he then renamed it Laverock Hill. Starr would have Platt design new outbuildings and greenhouses, as well remodel the stable and barn. Platt would also collaborate with Ellen Biddle Shipman to create a formal garden next to the main house, replete with reflecting pool and pergola housing a bronze statue of Pan by New York sculptor Henry Herring. Starr and his wife raised their three children at Laverock Hill, with daughter Hope being the last resident of the estate long after the death of her parents. This Gilded Age country home is today owned by a developer, and its fate is undecided.

Your storyteller for the evening will be Ed Zwicker IV, former president and board member of the Historical Society. He will recount stories of Emlen House and Laverock Hill, including their early beginnings, growth through the years, and the events and people surrounding them at different points in their history.

This presentation is free of charge and open to the public. Reservations are not required and light refreshments will be served, so don't miss this unique opportunity to hear about these amazing country homes!

For more information call 215-233-4600

Attendees to the May program are encouraged to bring a canned food item to donate to the First Presbyterian Church's neighborhood food pantry. Please help us to support this important cause.

Ice Cream Social

Saturday, May 17th, 2014 at

10:30am (10:30am tour is SOLD OUT)

Emlen House early photo
Emlen House early photo

Please mark your calendar for a tour of the locally significant estate, Emlen House, located on Pennsylvania Avenue in Fort Washington.

On Thursday May 15th, local historian, Ed Zwicker IV will host a slide presentation on the history and significance of this property, as well as Laverock Hill (see feature article). This program will be held at the First Presbyterian Church in Flourtown and will begin at 7:30pm. Pre-registration is not required.

Tours of the Emlen House will be offered on Saturday May 17th at 9am and 10:30am and advanced registration is required. Attendees will meet at the property and will be able to explore the grounds to enjoy the vistas and views and tour this important home. Photography will be permitted. Since the site is slated for development, this is a truly unique opportunity to experience this property before development begins and see the house before the proposed restoration. An ice cream social will follow each tour.

Tickets will be $20.00 per person, $18 for Friends of STHS. Advance registration will be required by sending the registration form along with a check payable to STHS to STHS, PO Box 564, Flourtown, PA 19031. For a Printable Registration Form, please Click Here.

The entrance to Emlen House is located 2/10 mile northwest of the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Oreland Mill Road. If traveling using GPS directions, the address would be 1951 Pennsylvania Avenue, Fort Washington, PA. Parking is limited, so carpooling is encouraged.

Note: For more information and updates about the BLACK HORSE INN
including a "virtual tour" - you can click here to visit the website.

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