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Krisheim, 1914; 1938; 2012-2015

Woodward Garden, formerly known as
Former owner:
Woodward, Gertrude
United Presbyterian Church
Woodward, George, Dr
Ornamental ironwork designer:
Yellin, Samuel
Mercer, Henry
Hancock, Walker Kirtland 1901-1998
Selmer-Larsen, Johan
Landscape designer:
Fleming, Robert
Schneider, Nina
Landscape architect:
Dawson, James F (James Frederick) 1874-1941
Physical description:
2 folders 1 lantern slide, 9 photographic prints mounted on board and 51 digital images
Mixed archival materials
United States of America, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Philadelphia
Krisheim (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
1914 1938 2012-2015
The landscape design was planned for this property by the original owners and landscape architect James Frederick Dawson, consulting for 15 years before the half-timbered Jacobean Tudor mansion was finished. During that time Krisheim was an arboretum open to the public who could "respect the trees and shrubbery". Their vision was to create a garden suburb in the city comprising a densely wooded entrance with a long driveway leading to parkland in front of the house, sweeping lawns directly behind the house to give an unobstructed view of the Wissahickon Valley, formal gardens on three levels beside the house, more private lawn below as well as cutting and vegetable gardens, and woodland gardens. The massed trees and native Wissahickon schist used throughout for walls, paths and the house itself were to give the impression of a woodsy retreat rather than the great estate they actually built. The original 40 acre property has been reduced to 14 acres and beginning in 1988 features of the original Olmsted Brothers hardscape and plantings have been restored.
At the top level of the formal garden there is a long pool used for swimming laps, fed from the wall fountains above that are run by a contemporary recycling pump. Dogwood trees are espaliered on the Wissahickon schist wall behind the pool which has cantilevered steps so workers could climb in from the service area on the other side of the wall. A wooden arbor and benches in an alcove above that wall recently were rebuilt following the original Olmsted Brothers designs. The second level of the formal garden has a rectangular reflecting pool in the center planted with iris and tulips, with Walter K. Hancock's sculpture "Boy with Squirrel" placed on the rim of the pool. Four parterres surrounding the pool contain dogwood and crabapple trees with bordering boxwoods and clusters of arborvitae at the corners of the pool. The lowest level walled garden was designed for contemplation with a long bench and two large specimen euonymus trees. In the wall behind the bench a saying from the Songs of Solomon is carved: "Awake O North wind and come south. Blow upon my garden that the spices thereof may flow out." Walkways in the formal terraces are brick with a mosaic stone path at the upper level.
Other features include a log house copied from a vacation house in Wyoming under tall pine woodlands and a tea house at the end of a newly planted hydrangea walk at one side of the second formal terrace. Additional benches and Adirondack chairs are placed under the trees in the front park and around a fire pit. Artifacts from the Arts and Crafts era include a Moravian tile floor in the tea house depicting symbols of the zodiac, containers for planting, Samuel Yellin ironwork, and a bronze sculpture of a boy with a ball sited under the arbor, by Johan Selmer-Larsen.
Persons associated with the garden include Dr. George and Gertrude Woodward (former owners, 1895-1961); United Presbyterian Church (former owner, 1961-1983); Peabody & Stearns (architects, 1910-1911); James Frederick Dawson (1874-1941) (independent and with Olmsted Brothers) (landscape architect, 1895-1910); Samuel Yellin (ornamental ironwork designer); Henry Mercer (Moravian ornamental tiles in the tea house and house); Walter K. Hancock (1901-1998) (sculptor); Johan Selmer-Larsen (1876-1967) (sculptor); Robert Fleming (landscape designer, 1988-1989); Nina Schneider (landscape designer, 2011-2012).
The folder includes worksheets, photocopy of articles and a DVD entitled, "John Selmer Larsen: The Truth of All Things Natural."
This property is featured in "'Krisheim': a Magnificent Private Estate" by John Lynne Gray, published in House Beautiful, December 1910; "The Garden at "Krisheim," Residence of Dr. George Woodward, St. Martins, Philadelphia", published in House and Garden, April 1916, pp. 14-15; Portraits of Philadelphia Gardens by Louise Bush-Brown and James Bush-Brown, published by Dorrance and Company, Philadelphia, 1929, pp. 96-103; "Philadelphia's Gardens" III. Water Gardens" by Jane Leslie Kift, published in Public Ledger, April 1930, p. 3; "A Famous Old Garden Revisited" by Patricia Spollen, published in The Evening Bulletin Philadelphia, October 12, 1962, p. F21; Houses of Philadelphia: Chestnut Hill and the Wissahickon Valley by James B. Garrison, published by Acanthus Press, 2008, pp. 118-125; Philadelphia's Wissahickon Valley, 1620-2020: Metropolitan Paradise: the Struggle for Nature in the City, Volume 2 by David Contosta and Carol Franklin, published by Saint Joseph's University Press, 2010, p. 370; ALSO "Information About the Gardens of Krisheim for a Self-Guided Tour" from the notes of Robert Fleming, Friends of the Wissahickon 75th Anniversary Celebration, September 1999
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Archives of American Gardens

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