Lemon Hill

Lemon Hill Drive, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Completed in 1800, for Henry Charles Pratt (1761-1838) and his third wife, Susannah Care (1776-1816). Situated on a bluff overlooking the Schuykill River, Lemon Hill was built just south-west of the ruined country seat of Robert Morris, The Hills. Pratt both designed the house and oversaw its construction, naming it for the citrus fruits he successfully cultivated in the greenhouses here. Renowned for its exceptional Federal architecture, oval rooms, and original sweeping vistas, today Lemon Hill is operated as a house museum by the Fairmount Park Conservancy....

This house is best associated with...

Henry Charles Pratt

Henry C. Pratt, Shipping Merchant, of Philadelphia & "Lemon Hill"


Elizabeth Dundas

Mrs Elizabeth (Dundas) Pratt


James Dundas Pratt

James Dundas Pratt, of Philadelphia


Ann Taylor

Mrs Ann (Taylor) Pratt


Henry Pratt was a shipping merchant who successfully invested in property in and around Philadelphia. At the time of his death, he owned 284-properties and was worth in excess of $1.5 million. In 1799, he paid $14,654 for the site on which the disgraced financier Robert Morris' country seat, The Hills, had stood before it burned down. Included in the sale were 43-acres and its remaining outbuildings which included several greenhouses.

Aside from being an astute businessman, Pratt inherited his father's artistic eye and designed the house he would build here. He sited it to the north-east of where The Hills had stood and its interior is noted for its elegant oval rooms overlooking the river. He planted lush gardens with flowers, fruit trees and plants imported from England. The greenhouses here measured sixteen by 260-feet and grew lemons, oranges, euphorbia, palm trees, shaddock, bergamot, pomegranate, and fig. The grounds included curiosities befitting of a merchant such as tea plants, coffee trees, sugar cane, and pepper trees. Gravel walkways wound through the parkland interspersed with grottos, bowers, summer houses, and espaliers; and, when goldfish from his pond escaped into the Schuykill it was often mistakenly heard that the goldfish was native to Pennsylvania!

Henry was married three time and had fourteen children but he outlived all his wives and all but two of his children, James and Sarah Clementina Pratt. Sarah married Thomas McKean, the eldest son of the 2nd Governor of Pennsylvania, while James succeeded to Lemon Hill in 1838. But, he sold the estate to the City of Philadelphia six years later (1844) for $75,000 when it became the first property acquired along the river to protect the city's water supply. In 1855, it also became the first estate to be incorporated into Fairmount Park and the mansion was used as a public house for refreshments.  

Between 1926 and 1955, the house became a home again when the architectural historian's  Fiske Kimball - for 30-years the Director of the Museum of Philadelphia Museum of Art - and his wife Marie, moved in and restored it to its original appearance. Since 1957, it has been open to the public as a house museum.

You May Also Like...

Contributed by Mark Meredith on 05/04/2021 and last updated on 06/04/2021.


Be the first to connect to this house. Connect to record your link to this house. or just to show you love it! Connect to Lemon Hill →