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Parlor overmantle, carving detail.

Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), 1932 measured drawings from the old Philadelphia survey, 1897 measured drawing by C.L. Hillman and John McClintock, copy courtesy of Free Library of Philadelphia. Elevations and profiles, Palladian window, east end of hall, second story; plan and cornice details, first floor.


Built on 12 acres on the riverside of what was then know as the Wissahickon Road, Woodford was originally a 1-1/2 story Georgian home with a servant’s house and stable. The small size of the property indicated that Judge William Coleman had no intention to farm, but to merely use Woodford as his “gentleman’s retirement” or country home. The house and two outbuildings were carefully placed by Coleman to align visually with a “Palladian” style formal site plan and landscaping design. Woodford, along with Mt. Pleasant, Cliveden, and Powel House in center city, represents the best domestic examples of the middle Georgian style in the Philadelphia area.

The handsome formal center entry hall is distinguished by its Doric order frieze and unusual coved ceiling. The parlor is on the south side. Two bed chambers were located on the north, with a kitchen in the basement below. A finely carved overmantle in the parlor has been called one of the “finest in America.”

In 1771 David Franks added the second floor and rear “el” addition. An airy stair hall and kitchen were installed in the rear of the first floor. Bed chambers and a large room that is thought to have served as a ballroom were added to the second floor with an attic above. It was during the Franks period that all of the doors (interior and exterior) and the woodwork in the stair hall were painted to look like expensive mahogany. Faux mahogany graining at the time was very fashionable.

Around 1800 the Whartons made several alterations to Woodford to accommodate a change in fashion. On the first floor, two bed chambers were combined to create a dining room. Likewise, on the second floor, two bed chambers were combined into one large room. Both the dining room and the large second floor chamber have Federal-style mantle pieces from that period.

Following Woodford’s occupancy by Fairmount Park, restoration work was undertaken by the Naomi Wood Trust in 1927. Preserved in large part through benign neglect, most of the original historic fabric remained in tact. In order that the first Trustee, Daniel Huntoon could live full-time at Woodford, a small two-story addition on the rear of the structure was added to accommodate a modern kitchen with a bedroom and bath upstairs.

3400 West Dauphin Street, East Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, PA 19132
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