Attraction

Grumblethorpe

John Wister’s 1740’s Germantown summer home and orchard

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Photo courtesy Historic Germantown
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Overview

Most everything in Grumblethorpe belonged to the Wister family, and 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.

Wister, for whom the wisteria plant was named, planted a gingko biloba tree which still stands, the oldest in North America.

If the giant-sized Victorian dollhouse in the nursery doesn’t capture kids’ attention, the stories of the Grumblethorpe ghost surely will.

The Experience

Charles Jones Wister’s tool chest is on display at Grumblethorpe (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, as is the desk where Owen Wister wrote The Virginian.

The British occupied Grumblethorpe during the American Revolution.

Visitors 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.

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.

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.

 

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