In the last entry I established that on the north side of Fountain Green was the neighboring estate called Mount Pleasant built by sea captain John Macpherson in 1763. On the other side of where Fountain Green used to be, is the house called the Cliffs. The Cliffs was built in 1753 by Philadelphia merchant Joshua Fisher, a Quaker (1707-1783). Like Mount Pleasant and Fountain Green, the estate surrounding the house included a farm, although in general, life in this region was not an agrarian economy. Many farmed and sold their crops, but capital stemmed mainly from trade, shipping, law, banking and real estate (Meeker excelled at a number of these!)
Moving his family to downtown Philadelphia in 1746, Joshua built the Cliffs as a country getaway for the summers (for fun and to get away from the fever epidemics which would sweep through the city). It signaled his socioeconomic “arrival” and showcased his newfound wealth.
The house remained in the Fisher family for more than 100 years until the Fairmount Park Commission purchased it (and all the other villas in the confines of the ‘new’ park, an early example of eminent domain?) in 1868. The house was rented and maintained until the 1960s when it became vacant. The house had a substantial amount of woodwork and paneling. It was taken over and repaired in the 1960s by the Shackamaxon Society, a local civic group.
Incredibly, the Cliffs was vandalized in the 1970s & 80s, possibly due to publicity that the Fairmount Park Commission allowed city officials to live in the park's 45 historic houses rent-free. As a result of the news stories, the Park Commission decided to charge rent, but renters could not be found for some of the houses. Those that were occupied were thereby protected and maintained. The Cliffs was unoccupied from 1970, and due to a lack of funds, neither the Park Commission nor the Shackamaxon Society could maintain it.
The Cliffs burned on February 22, 1986, due to vandalism and arson. Firefighters were unable to extinguish the fire because their heavy trucks sank in the clay earth surrounding the house. The clay had been trucked into the site in order to cover an area near the house used as a dump for refuse from various municipal construction projects. (info courtesy of wiki, as is the photo of the ruin)