Historic Strawberry Mansion has an abundant collection of antiques, fine art, and collectables on display throughout the various rooms of the house. During the original furnishing of the Mansion, in 1931, the Committee of 1926 treated each individual room of the house as a separately interpreted space. Different women’s groups involved in the High Street Exhibit, as well as some individuals, were assigned to curating the different rooms and gathering the beautiful pieces. As such, each room in the house has a unique interpretation and the diversity and contrast among the rooms has been enjoyed and celebrated by the public since the Mansion first opened for tours.
The Sesquicentennial Doll Collection
The Women’s Club of Temple University, an organization founded in 1909 to promote and support the new college, was assigned a space in the Old Market House on High Street in which to exhibit a “Historical Pageant of Dolls.” The exhibit originated with a large collection of dolls from around the world all dressed in native costume. It was decided to include a doll from each state in the Union, so the president of each state’s Federation of Women’s Clubs was asked to send a representative doll to the High Street exhibit. Almost all of the states were represented including the District of Columbia. Many of the dolls depict some outstanding historical person in that state’s history. While some of the dolls were returned after the exhibit, most of them remained with the Women’s Club of Temple University. The dolls were given to the Historic Strawberry Mansion when the Women’s Club of Temple University disbanded in 1950.
The Millennium Doll Collection
In the year 2000, following in the tradition of the Sesquicentennial Doll Exhibit, the Committee of 1926 made the decision to celebrate the Millennium by making additions to their collection of dolls from the various states. As some of the states were not represented at the Sesquicentennial exhibit, the Committee of 1926 went to work to complete the collection. A committee was formed, headed by Mrs. Sally Linvill and Mrs. Emilie Bregy, who wrote letters to representatives in all the states. Letters were sent to the chamber of commerce and numerous other governmental agencies. Soon wonderful and interesting dolls began to arrive. The room next to the Sesquicentennial Doll Exhibit was refurbished, cases and proper lighting were installed in order to best display the new dolls. This new Millenium Doll Room has been dedicated to Sally P. Linvill in recognition of her extraordinary commitment and tireless effort in the development of the “State Doll Collection.”
The Esther Ann McFarland Exhibition Room featuring Tucker and Hemphill Porcelain
Judge Joseph Hemphill was an innovative man, producing a line of porcelain in conjunction with the Tucker porcelain factory in Philadelphia. Fortune did not favor him long, as Hemphill and Tucker Porcelain ware was produced only for 6 years (1832 – 1838). A fine collection of Hemphill and Tucker porcelain pieces are on display in the Exhibition Room.
The Ballroom was decorated by the Foreign Relations Committee from the Sesquicentennial celebration, who were in charge of the Stephen Girard house at the High Street Exhibit. The Stephen Girard house was furnished in both French and American fashion in honor of Stephen Girard, a prominent merchant, financier, and philanthropist in Philadelphia who was born in France in 1750. The same blend of French and American taste was used in the Ballroom at the Historic Strawberry Mansion, the focal point of the room being the French furniture of General George Cadwalader.
Decoration for the Attic was placed under the supervision of Mrs. Hampton L. Carson, wife of a prominent Philadelphia lawyer. It contains a collection of toys, artifacts, and lifestyle items from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Mrs. Cyrus Curtis, wife of the founder of the Curtis Publishing Company, publishers of the Ladies Home Journal and other important magazines and newspapers, was directly responsible for the furnishing and décor of the 19th century Parlor or Library, also known as the Reception Room. Mrs. Curtis’ original furniture purchase from American Art Galleries, in New York City, consisted of two mirrors, a pair of side chairs, a marble top table, two small tables, two arm chairs, a sofa, and a pair of urns. The purchase came to a grand total of $723.00 in 1931.
The Lewis Parlor
The Lewis Parlor, also known as the 18th Century Parlor, was decorated and continues to be maintained by the Pennsylvanian Society of New England Women (PSNEW). PSNEW was in charge of the Paul Revere Forge in the High Street Exhibit. This room is furnished as it might have been at the time of Judge William Lewis’ occupancy. The focal points of the room are the reproduction Gilbert Stuart portrait of Judge William Lewis and the gorgeous Wellford mantle that’s ornamental design was done by Robert Wellford dated in 1798. The mantle consists of hand-applied plaster and gesso decorative work, surrounding King of Prussia marble.
The Indian Queen Room
The Indian Queen Room was decorated by the Federation of Women’s Clubs responsible for the Loxely House at the High Street Exhibit, as well as the Emergency Aid of Philadelphia group responsible for the Indian Queen Tavern at the High Street Exhibit. The Indian Queen Tavern operated at the sesquicentennial as an “old time restaurant,” and the Indian Queen Room is furnished in the same fashion.
The Banquet Room was originally decorated by the Good Housekeeping Studio, in charge of the Dr. William Shippen house on High Street. Because this room is in one of the Greek Revival wings, the decision was made to decorate it in the fashion of the 1830s. The furniture is a 1930 reproduction of 1830’s Empire style. After the 2009-2013 Renovation project, the room will have a mural on canvas affixed to the walls, depicting scenes around Philadelphia and Fairmount Park and highlighting the influence and time of Judge Hemphill. The mural will be titled, The Portage Trail to Strawberry Mansion, painted by muralists Dot Bunn and Patrick Connors. Oil paint donated by Vasari Classic Artist’s Oil Colors.
Jefferson Dining Room
The Jefferson Dining Room was decorated by the Jefferson Committee, in charge of the Jefferson House in the High Street Exhibit. Furniture for the house and the dining set on display in this room were provided by Strawbridge and Clothier, who constructed reproduction designs based on Jefferson’s actual furniture. The reproductions were used as floor displays at the Strawbridge and Clothier showroom, and these exact designs were available for purchase in 1930.
The decorations and furnishings in this room, also called the 18th Century Bedroom, were a gift of Mrs. Harold E. Gillingham, a founding member of the Committee of 1926. Both Mr. and Mrs. Gillingham were collectors of fine antiques and furniture. Mr. Gillingham wrote several articles on Philadelphia history.
The Empire Bedroom
The Empire Bedroom, also known as the 19th Century bedroom, was originally decorated by Miss Helen Fleisher, an original member of the Committee of 1926. The room is done in the French Empire style, and the focal point of the décor is the c. 1810 French day bed with pelmet head.