The Francis Cope House
One Awbury Road
Philadelphia, PA 19138
At Awbury, The Landscape And The Ideals Persist
by Nicole Juday - May 2, 2012 - HiddenCity Philadelphia
Imagine that the year is 1870, and you are growing up on the fifty-acre Germantown estate of Awbury, a restrained version of a Victorian country retreat. The home’s large windows look out upon an English-style landscape of rolling lawn. The view is occasionally interrupted with copses of native trees and flowering shrubs. In the springtime the birdsong is almost deafening.
Your cousins, grandparents and other relatives abide on the same sylvan piece of land, each family in their own gracious home, for the family is very wealthy, due to your great-grandfather’s enormous success in establishing a shipping line between Philadelphia and Liverpool in 1821. A tenant farm on the edge of the property provides fruit, vegetables, and milk for the compound.
Germantown is still more a summer destination for wealthy Philadelphians than a fashionable year-round residence. But the isolation of the country is only relative, for the train to the city stops at the corner of the estate. There are enough children among the extended family to support a small school, and socializing largely takes place among the relatives. Winters are taken up with sleighing parties and skating, Summers fly by amidst picnics and rambles into the Wissahickon Valley to gather wildflowers. As Quakers, nobody sings, paints, or plays piano; entertainment and edification are found instead in the study and enjoyment of nature, particularly plants.
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