John Wister’s 1740’s Germantown summer home and orchard
John Wister practically invented the American dream. The German immigrant worked in his brother’s button factory before building his own fortune and presiding over several generations of over-achievers. Most everything in Grumblethorpe belonged to the Wister family. Charles Jones Wister’s tool chest is on display (some of his tools are at the Mercer Museum). The equipment that Charles Jones Wister used for his accomplishments as an astronomer, botanist and chemist is in pristine condition, so is the desk where Owen Wister wrote The Virginian.
You can also see Sally Wister’s bedroom: Sally was sent to Lower Gwynedd, Pennsylvania when Grumblethorpe was occupied and there she wrote her diaries that are still being published today. Occupied by the British during the Revolution, Grumblethorpe’s living room floor still shows the blood stain where General Agnew died from a sniper’s bullet.
The clothes, social mores and living conditions are different but no matter what the century, teens are still teens. While today’s youth don’t have enemy soldiers living in their homes or have to suffer the hardships of war, Sally Wister’s 18th-century diary shows how teen crushes, boredom, peer pressure and rebellion span centuries – testing the patience of generations of parents.
Open Tue, Thu and Sun, Mar – Nov
Groups by appointment
Wister, for whom the wisteria plant was named, planted a gingko biloba tree which still stands, the oldest in North America.
The giant-sized Victorian dollhouse in the nursery is neat. If that doesn’t capture kids’ attention, the stories of the Grumblethorpe ghost will.
In the neighborhood
Museums & Attractions
5442 Germantown Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19144
- The Johnson House
Historic Site, Inc.
- Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion
- Historic Germantown Visitor Center
- Revolutionary Germantown Festival
- Historic RittenhouseTown
- Juneteenth Festival
- View more attractions
Restaurants & Dining