Pair of English wooden apple-shaped tea caddies, late 18th century. Tea, a precious commodity in the 18th century, was often stored in decorative containers like these.
Watercolor of Woodford by D. J. Kennedy.
During the latter part of the 19th c. Woodford's red brick
exterior was painted a light ochre.
HISTORY OF WOODFORD
Woodford Mansion is one of the most elegant survivors of the group of early “country seats” which were built in the countryside along the Schuylkill River outside of colonial Philadelphia. Legend says the woods and nearby ford in the Schuylkill River gave the estate its name. There have been five significant owners of Woodford.
William Coleman, an important Patriot, built his one and one-half story Georgian-style summer home, servant’s house and stable in 1756-58 on 12 acres of land. Coleman was a highly educated and successful merchant who ended his career as a justice of the provincial Pennsylvania Supreme Court. William Coleman and his wife Hannah raised their orphaned nephew George Clymer. Clymer became a distinguished Patriot and signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Benjamin Franklin, a close and long-standing friend, said of Coleman, “He has the coolest, clearest head, the best heart, and the exactest morals of almost any man I ever met.”
In 1771, Woodford was purchased by David Franks, a crown agent for Philadelphia. To make room for his four children and to accommodate his lavish entertaining, Franks added Woodford’s second floor and a rear two-story addition. The Franks were Loyalists. Lord Howe called almost daily upon Rebecca, the Frank’s youngest, and very beautiful, daughter both at Woodford and the Frank’s home in town on Second Street near Spruce. In 1778 Congress directed Benedict Arnold to arrest Franks for treason. The family was ordered to leave and eventually was relocated in England where they went from great wealth and power to abject poverty.
Sold in 1781 to Thomas Paschall, Woodford was then sold again to Isaac Wharton in 1793. Woodford then entered a long period of ownership by the Wharton family. The Whartons used Woodford as their summer home until after the Civil War.
In 1868 the Wharton family sold Woodford to the City of Philadelphia to become part of Fairmount Park. The mansion served a variety of Park uses including headquarters for the Fairmount Park Guard who used it as a police station and lock-up until 1927.
Naomi Wood Trust
In 1927, after Naomi Wood’s death, Daniel Huntoon, a collector and a close friend of Naomi Wood, selected Woodford as a suitable home for the display of her “colonial household gear.” Huntoon, the first Trustee of the Naomi Wood Trust, entered into a long-term lease with the Fairmount Park Commission, and under his watchful eye Woodford was restored and the collection installed. Woodford was opened to the public in 1930 and continues to be operated by the Trust to this day.
In July 2003, Woodford suffered a serious fire. A portion of the attic was burned. Very little of the collection was lost, but all of its contents were damaged by smoke and water. After two years of construction, Woodford re-opened in 2005 completely restored. New mechanical and electrical systems are now in operation. Furnishings and paintings have been cleaned and historically correct fabrics, paint and floor finishes have been installed.