Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mount Pleasant, the neighboring country estate to Fountain Green, on the Schuylkill River

Mount Pleasant, splendid villa about a 10 min walk from where Fountain Green used to be.


In August I visited Philadelphia and was able to further my sleuthing of Meeker, and in particular I found out more about his country estate Fountain Green on the Schuylkill River, which he was able to purchase from the Mifflin family through a bank auction in 1799. There seems to be some confusion about the location of Fountain Green because with time, Governor Mifflin is alleged to have live there (more on this topic later.) The location of Fountain Green is now pinned down. If one looks at the map of Fairmount Park along the banks of the Schuylkill River, running through the center of Philly, Fountain Green was between Mount Pleasant (pictured above) and a country home called the Cliffs, both of which still exist; however the Cliffs is in ruins and can not be seen. But at least I was able to visit Mount Pleasant, just slightly past where Fountain Green was once located, and up a small hill. The road running up this hill leading to Mount Pleasant is now called Fountain Green Drive.

The home was closed, but was graciously opened up for me and my friend Susan (see Susan's blog on Philly beauty Rebecca Gratz). In 1761 this land was aquired by a sea captain named Capt. John Macpherson who made a fortune in a short amount of time in the French and Indian War. When the war ended in 1763 Macpherson was ready to make an appropriate display of his wealth and social prestige, and built Mount Pleasant which was described by John Adams as “the most elegant seat in Pennsylvania.” He developed his estate with fields for sheep and cows, orchards, and a large, Scottish-style walled garden in which he grew such luxuries as asparagus, strawberries, and artichokes. Here he lived with wife and children for a while (becoming estranged from his wife, a son died in the Am Rev), renting it during periods of financial difficulty, and finally sold it in 1779. After changing hands several times, in 1791 it was sold to General Jonathan Williams (1751-1815). He was a great nephew of Benjamin Franklin, was chief of the Corps of Engineers, United States Army, and first superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point. He directed the fortification of New York Harbor, and was active in the defense of the Delaware in the War of 1812. In his absence, his wife Mariamne was left in charge of Mount Pleasant and the farm. The Williams family lived there until the City of Philadelphia bought the property in 1869 and it became part of Fairmount Park.

As Meeker bought Fountain Green in 1799, eight years after Mount Pleasant was bought by Gen Williams, these two families would have been neighbors. Fountain Green at this time comprised 2 parcels; a smaller part along the river, and a much larger part which neighbored the Williams estate, extending away from the river.

This statue is in the garden of Mount Pleasant. I noticed it right away.
The reason why.........stay tuned!



Susan Sklaroff said...

You have some beautiful pictures of Mount Pleasant from our day there. I'm glad you have been able to fill in some of its history -- all very interesting.

Maureen said...

As ever, fascinating

Rouchswalwe said...

I'm tuned! I'm tuned! On tenterhooks, I tell you!

emikk said...

Gotta love it!

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