Tom Keels Brings His New Book “Sesqui” to Historic Strawberry Mansion

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2115_regAuthor Tom Keels will be at Historic Strawberry Mansion on April 22nd, 2017 to discuss his new book, Sesqui! Greed, Graft, and The Forgotten World’s Fair of 1926. Keels did research for Sesqui! in the archives of Historic Strawberry Mansion, and this new book places a spotlight on the contributions of the Sesquicenntenial Women’s Committee, the group who would later form the Committee of 1926 and restore Historic Strawberry Mansion!

“In his portrayal of the 1926 Sesqui-Centennial, Tom Keels has once again opened a wide, insightful and revealing historical lens on Philadelphia. It is hard to imagine how the flaws and fault lines in American society could be more stunningly exposed than in this fast-paced story of the 150th anniversary of the nation’s birth in the city where it all started. By tracing the political, social, cultural, and economic conflicts that inflicted the once promising event, Sesqui! portrays the ongoing tensions between good government reformers and the political machine, reinforces the second-class citizenry bestowed on women and African Americans, and vividly shows how the best intentions and investment can go so badly wrong through human error. Sesqui! is a great read that helps us better understand urban America in the early twentieth century.”
—Sam Katz, Executive Producer, History Making Productions

In 1916, department store magnate and Grand Old Philadelphian John Wanamaker launched plans for a Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition in his hometown in 1926. It would be a magnificent world’s fair to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Wanamaker hoped that the “Sesqui” would also transform sooty, industrial Philadelphia into a beautiful Beaux-Arts city.

However, when the Sesqui opened on May 31, 1926, in the remote, muddy swamps of South Philadelphia, the first visitors were stunned to find an unfinished fair, with a few shabbily built and mostly empty structures. Crowds stayed away in droves: fewer than five million paying customers attended the Sesqui, costing the city millions of dollars. Philadelphia became a national scandal—a city so corrupt that one political boss could kidnap an entire world’s fair.

In his fascinating history Sesqui!, noted historian Thomas Keels situates this ill-fated celebration—a personal boondoggle by the all-powerful Congressman William S. Vare-against the transformations taking place in America during the 1920s. Keels provides a comprehensive account of the Sesqui as a meeting ground for cultural changes sweeping the country: women’s and African-American rights, anti-Semitism, eugenics, Prohibition, and technological advances.

 

Seating is limited, reserve your space here!

Beehive Installations and Demonstrations

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Historic Strawberry Mansion beekeepers invite visitors to view the live installation of bees into our hives at the Mansion on Saturday, April 8 and Sunday, April 16. Each event is weather permitted. Stay tuned for additional details by following Historic Strawberry Mansion on Facebook and @Historic_SM on Twitter.

A Freedom To Go Forth

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On Saturday, February 25th from noon – 4 p.m, Historic Strawberry Mansion will have a special one-day exhibit on display in the Exhibition Room to complement the Judge William Lewis exhibit, “A Freedom To Go Forth.” Items from the Lest We Forget Slavery Museum, the only Philadelphia area museum with an extensive collection of authentic slavery artifacts, will be on view and Lest We Forget’s curators will be on hand to discuss the artifacts with visitors.

2016 Holiday Hours and Special Events at Historic Strawberry Mansion

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It’s almost that time of year again – our busy holiday season! Every December, Historic Strawberry Mansion and the other park houses open our doors to thousands of visitors during the Christmas in Fairmount Park tours. This year’s theme: A Very Philly Christmas. We’ve got plenty of special events happening at the Mansion, so read below for dates and times, as well as info on our holiday hours.

 

Holiday Hours:

December 1-4, 6-11, 13-18, 20-22, 29-30. Most days 10am-4pm, see below for specific hourly changes.

CLOSED: Dec 23-28th, Dec 31st, January 1st.

 

Special Events:

December 1st & 8th: Holiday Candlelight Tour, 5:30-8:30pm

December 3rd: Sounds of the Season10am – 4pm featuring a performance by Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra from 2:30-3:30pm; Parks on Tap12pm – 5pm

December 4th: Family Day 10am -4pm featuring Holiday Storytelling by the Walnut Street Theatre at 1:30, 2:15 & 3:30pm

December 8th: Holiday Tea11am – 1pm, the Mansion will not be open to the public until 2pm on the day of the tea.

December 10th: Neighborhood Day10am – 4pm 

December 11th: Flavors of the Season10am – 4pm featuring small bites from Giambri’s Quality Sweets and Whole Foods Market.

 

For more information on A Very Philly Christmas and the events happening at all of the Fairmount Park Historic Houses this season, please visit: www.holidaysinthepark.com

 

Historic Strawberry Mansion featured on WHYY’s Friday Arts program

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On Friday, November 4, Historic Strawberry Mansion was featured on WHYY’s Friday Arts program. Visit the link below to see the piece during the second part of the program.

http://video.whyy.org/video/2365883721/

December 1st & 8th, 2016 – Holiday Candlelight Tour

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Tour festively decorated Laurel Hill, Woodford, and Historic Strawberry Mansion on this exclusive tour lit softly by candlelight, evoking the past in a unique and lovely way. Friendly and knowledgeable guides share the rich and interesting history of Fairmount Park and the life of the residents who called each of these magnificent buildings home. The tour concludes with assorted hors d’oeuvres and desserts at Historic Strawberry Mansion. Transportation to each house is included on a private trolley car. Pick up is at Lloyd Hall (1 Boathouse Row, Philadelphia, PA 19130) at 5:30 pm.

candlelight-tourDate:December 1 and December 8

Time:5:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Cost:$45

Purchase tickets here: http://www.historicstrawberrymansion.eventbrite.com

8th Annual Strawberry Festival – June 4th, 2016

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Philadelphia Orchard Project, East Park Revitalization Alliance and The Committee of 1926 welcome visitors to the 8th annual Strawberry Festival. There will be food, crafts, games, and entertainment for all ages as well as plenty of fresh strawberries to harvest!

Straw Fest 2016

“Romeo and Juliet” at Historic Strawberry Mansion

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Do you remember your first time?  The Mechanical Theater invites you to Historic Strawberry Mansion to relive young love in all its heart-breaking splendor.  “Romeo and Juliet” – the story of two teenagers whose innocent eroticism reminds us that nothing is quite like the first time you fall in love… and nothing is ever the same afterwards.  Directed by Eric Singel and starring Clay Westman, Brianna Lopez, and Nico Stoerner.  Performances will take place on the veranda behind Historic Strawberry Mansion. Don’t miss this wonderful show!

Where:  The Historic Strawberry Mansion, 2450 Strawberry Mansion Dr, Philadelphia, PA 19132

When: June 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 11th, and 12th

Fridays and Saturdays at 7:00 pm

Please note the Sunday, June 5th show will be at 6 pm.

Sundays at 4:00 pm

Get tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-mechanical-theater-presents-romeo-and-juliet-tickets-25138741653or call (215) 228-8364.

Closing – January 23rd & 24th, 2016

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Due to the winter weather anticipated for the weekend of Saturday January 23rd and Sunday January 24th, 2016 we will not be open for tours! We hope everyone is staying safe and warm inside this weekend!

A Christmas Carol at Historic Strawberry Mansion

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The Mechanical Theater Presents: A Christmas Carol at Historic Strawberry Mansion

 

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Four Christmas spirits!  Three crazy actors!  Two rooms of a historic house!  And a partridge in a pear tree! Join Historic Strawberry Mansion and the Mechanical Theater in some madcap merriment as “A Christmas Carol” careens out of control.  When the North Pole has to layoff most of the elves due to budget cuts, three of the newly unemployed try their hands at acting in order to make ends meet.  Their first project?  The worlds’ most beloved Christmas story! Get ready for a fun, heartfelt take on a Christmas classic that will haunt you for many Christmases to come…in a good way…really!  Adapted and Directed by Eric Singel and starring Geremy Webne-Behrman, Loretta Vasile, and Sean Vermeire.

 

Thursdays – Saturday, December 10th- 12th at 7pm

Sunday December 13th at 4pm

Thursdays – Saturday, December 17th- 19th at 7pm

Sunday December 20th at 4pm

 

 

Tickets are $20/person, purchase online HERE!