United States of America, Pennsylvania, Montgomery, Lafayette Hill
Erdenheim Farm (Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania)
The original tract containing Erdenheim Farm has a long history of ownership dating back to William Penn, the founder of the Pennsylvania colony, but the landscape design and architecture of the house and outbuildings date back to circa 1916-1971 when the property was owned by George D. Widener, Jr. In 2011 and 2012 the current owners restored sunken formal gardens and stone walls designed by Percival Gallagher, lead designer for Olmsted Brothers, with new plantings of iris, herbs and peonies, removing two rows of conifers that obscured the cascade leading from the greenhouse, both designed by architect Horace Trumbauer. Gallagher (1874-1934) also designed the roadway system within the farm, the grass tennis court, a woodland walk and original plantings around the main house. Trumbauer (1868-1938) also updated and enlarged the original farmhouse in the Colonial revival style, working from 1916-1932, and designed the main entrance gate, outbuildings including workmen's cottages, three barns and a riding stable and a five arch stone bridge similar to those on English country estates.
Alongside the house there is a new bluestone terrace with cutouts for magnolia trees and a small fountain with planted metal containers. The gardens at the main house were redesigned in 2011 and 2012 and axial views to outlying gardens were reinforced. Ornamental gates designed by Samuel Yellin in the 1920s were attached to new iron fences that surround the house gardens. The current owners restored buildings, landscape and hardscape following the original designs, as stewards of an historical property, and made changes that enhance the sustainability of a working produce and livestock farm. Wildflower meadows were planted with grasses, sedges, rushes, lobelia, rudbeckia, asters and solidago in 2009 to provide habitat for birds and wild life and to reduce erosion into Wissahickon Creek, which traverses the property. An orchard with apple, apricot, peach, pear and plum trees also was planted in 2009. The Trumbauer-designed greenhouse and cold frames now grow micro greens, camellias and orchids. A three-acre organic vegetable garden and berry patch has been added near the Trumbauer sheep barn where produce is offered for sale in season. Livestock raised at Erdenheim Farm include cheviot sheep, Black Angus, belted Galloway and Scottish highland cattle.
Erdenheim means earthly home in German, the property was named by former owner Johannes George Hocker in the 18th century. The original substantial acreage has been reduced in size with much of it is being conserved by the Natural Lands Trust and the Whitemarsh Foundation. Also easements have been granted for public trails that are part of the Montgomery County Green Ribbon trail and the Whitemarsh township trail system.
William Penn (former owner, 1683); Jasper Farmer Jr. and members of the Farmer family (former owners, 1683-1745); Peter Robeson and Jonathan Robeson (former owners, 1745-1755); William Streper, Nathan Sheppard, Anthony Williams, Sr., Isaac Williams (former owners, 1755-1760s); Johannes George Hocker (former owner, 1763-1823); Caspar Schlater (former owner, 1823); Major General Henry Scheetz and family (former owners, 1823-1842); William W. Longstreth (former owner, 1842-1849); Dr. James McCrea (former owner, 1849-1855); Atherton Blight (former owner, 1855-1862); Aristedes Welch (former owner, 1862-1882); Norman W. Kittson and Louis Kittson (former owners, 1882-1896); Robert N. Carson (former owner, 1896-1916); George D. Widener, Jr. (former owner, 1916-1971); Fitz Eugene Dixon, Jr. and Edith Dixon (former owners, 1971-2009); Horace Trumbauer (architect, 1917-1932); Percival Gallagher of Olmsted Brothers (landscape architects, 1924-1931); Jacques Henri Auguste Greber (landscape architect, 1918); Samuel Yellin (1885-1940) (ornamental ironwork designer, 1920s); Charles Gale (garden designer, 1972-1973); Larry Weaner (landscape designer, 2009-2010); Christina Reeves (landscape architect, 2011); Nina Schneider (garden designer, 2012- ); Glenn Keys (architect, 2009-2010).
The folder includes worksheets, photocopies of articles and other information.
Garden has been featured in On the Waters of the Wissahickon: A History of Erdenheim Farm by Eric W. Plaag, published by University of South Carolina Press, 2012; American Splendor, The Residential Architecture of Horace Trumbauer, published by Acanthus Press, 2002, p. 326; Philadelphia's Wissahickon Valley 1620-2020: Metropolitan Paradise, the Struggle for Nature in the City Volume 3 by Carol Franklin and David Contosta, published by Saint Joseph's University Press, pp. 664 - 665, 672 - 673