The other day, while musing on the architecture of Benjamin Latrobe, I stumbled across this painting of Sedgley Park. Built in 1799 near Lemon Hill, Philadelphia, it is thought to be the earliest Gothic-style house in America. A contemporary writer remarked "The natural advantages of Sedgley Park are not frequently equalled, even upon the banks of the Schuylkill. From the height upon which the mansion is erected it commands an interesting and extensive view. The scenery around is of unusual beauty, but its character is altogether peaceful and quiet."
Sedgley was the country house of William Cramond, a Philadelphia merchant. Business difficulties forced Cramond to sell the house a mere seven years after its construction. From there it passed through the hands of several owners and tenants, including the Philadelphia sheriff who ran a beer garden on the estate (much to the delight of the local boaters). The city eventually acquired the estate in 1854, incorporating it into what is now Fairmont Park. By that time the house had fallen into such disrepair that it was demolished in 1857. Today, the only remaining structure of the Sedgley estate is the guard house. So one can only imagine...
Here's a little something well worth adding to your digital library ~ Thompson Westcott, The Historic Mansions and Buildings of Philadelphia, with some notice of their Owners and Occupants (1877).
Thanks JTL for the inspiration on this one!
(image: Thomas Birch, Southeast View of “Sedgeley Park,” the Country Seat of James Cowles Fisher, Esq., about 1819, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, Museum purchase made possible by the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment)