In 1789, Judge William Lewis, a well-known abolitionist and lawyer, built the mansion as a summer retreat, naming it “Summerville.”
In 1825, its second owner, Judge Joseph Hemphill, added the first of two Greek-revival style wings to the home.
In 1930, in an effort to celebrate the magnificence of this extraordinary home, a group of public-spirited women decided to restore historic Strawberry Mansion. Called the Committee of 1926, they began restoring the mansion in 1930 and opened it to the public as an historic house museum the following year.
Since its opening, Historic Strawberry Mansion has welcomed over 250,000 visitors through individual visits, park house tours, lectures, events, and community artist exhibitions.
Managing the upkeep of an over 200-year-old building is a full time project.
Controlling the environment within the mansion was a particularly difficult endeavor when it had inadequate heating and cooling systems and little to no ventilation. Over the years, the Committee of 1926 began to see the house and their collection suffer under the fluctuating conditions of the mansion.
In 2009, in an effort to preserve the Mansion’s legacy and collections, the Committee of 1926, in partnership with the City of Philadelphia, closed Historic Strawberry Mansion to begin the first major restoration of the house since the 1930s.
The four-year preservation project began with exterior restorations, including the repair of all 72 windows, window sashes, hardware cleaning, conservation of antique weather stripping, stabilization of the main staircase, replacement of all roofing and internal roof beams, and exterior stucco repair with a restored historic color scheme.
Beginning in 2012, the second phase of the rehabilitation project focused on the interior of the mansion. Phase II included replacing the old 1930’s knob and tube wiring with an upgraded electrical system, interior plaster and paint repair, and the installation of a new geothermal climate control HVAC system to protect the collection from harsh environmental effects.
The restoration project was finally completed. In May 2013, the doors to the mansion re-opened to the public for the first time in almost five years. The Committee of 1926’s prized collection of antiques, fine art, and collectibles had finally been restored to its proper place.
As part of the restoration, a beautiful mural, “The Portage Trail to Strawberry Mansion” by Dot Bunn and Patrick Connors, was added to the Banquet Room on the second floor. The mural depicts the story of Judge Joseph Hemphill, who is credited with building the Banquet Room wing of the house.