Last year, in the midst of a festive holiday season, I was lucky enough to win two passes to the Charms of Fairmount Holiday Tour from HughE’s blog. My friend Tara & I had such a fun day exploring these beautiful Philly homes, but I didn’t get a chance to report on my experience before the season was over. Well – GREAT NEWS: the tours are back! Starting today (12/3) and running through 12/30, Woodford, Cedar Grove, Laurel Hill Mansion, Lemon Hill, Mount Pleasant, and Strawberry Mansion will “once again be decorated in their holiday finest for the beloved annual Holiday Tours” (I couldn’t have said it better myself).
To give you a little background, these homes, located in Fairmount Park and currently owned by the city, were once the summer villas of rich families living in Philadelphia during the 18th & 19th centuries. It took them two to three hours to get out to these babies, so they had to be fabulous. Many important people rolled through these homes during their prime (we’re talking Ben Franklin and John Adams important), and they’re a really great snapshot into what our city used to be.
These historic homes have been decorated by various interior designers and garden clubs, but the absolute best parts of the tour were the guides. The guides are all volunteers, some actually live in and take care of the home year-round, and range from historians to the cutest little old women dressed in historical garb. We heard from a pianist in one home, got some gingerbread cookies in another, and learned a ton about the history of the previous home owners, the architecture, and the old Philadelphia way of life.
We used our car to get to each home and toured on our own, but there is an option to take the “Holly Trolley” this Saturday, so check that out if you’re already in the full holiday spirit. Tickets are $5 per person, per house, so if you visit each home, you’re looking at a $30 day, which I believe is pretty on par for a holiday house tour. Check out the view of the Philly skyline from Lemon Hill – isn’t that amazing?
What are some of your favorite Christmas activities in Philadelphia? Let me know if you’ll be stopping by the Charms of Fairmont Holiday Tours this year – I’d love to hear which house was your favorite! xx