From the NHL database
A 1788 remodeling of an older Georgian house transformed The Woodlands into one of the earliest and most advanced examples of Adamesque style domestic architecture in America.
In 1840 the land surrounding the mansion was converted into a Rural Cemetery and the Woodlands is “home” to many prominent Philadelphians.
The Woodlands received a 2004 Federal Save America’s Treasures matching grant in the amount of $200,000 to replace the deteriorated roof and to address structural problems.
The Historic Structures Report includes excerpts from correspondence that would bring a nod of recognition to any old house owner, as the gentlemen share recommendations for plasterers and other skilled craftsmen (along with a warning about schedules to prevent the other from poaching labor) as well as laments about leaky roofs and mounting costs. Some things never change.
This is one of those behind-the-scenes views of old historic mansions that one doesn’t usually get to see on a tour. And yet, this is always the part I want to see most. The dusty, lived in aspect of a building is much more appealing to my imagination than the often artificial-feeling public showrooms. When I toured the Biltmore, up the stairs, down the stairs, from the dining hall, to the bowling alley, through the kitchen and on, the places the piqued my curiosity were the unseen behind closed doors. Oh, we all know what closed doors can do to fire an imagination. Just ask Pandora or Bluebeard’s wife.
Have any struggling and highly evocative sites experimented with doing away with historical interpretation altogether and attempted a “let’s imagine the story as we tour” tour? It could be a variation on the murder mystery parties that were popular a few decades ago. Could be an interesting supplemental income targeted to adults looking for a creative party idea or corporate groups looking to exercise their brainstorming expertise in an offbeat way.