Wright's Ferry Mansion
This a temporary/Information site. Our permanent site will open in early 2024. Wright’s Ferry Mansion A restored historic house museum, Wright’s Ferry Mansion stands as testament of the strong pursuits of a handful of early 18th-century Quaker settlers coming from Chester and Darby, Pennsylvania to rural, virtually uninhabited land along the Susquehanna River. Built in 1738, this well preserved stone house reflects both an English-born austerity in its design and a panoply of interests pursued by its original owner, Susanna Wright (1697-1784). “A dynamic force” in self-sufficiency, the unmarried Susanna oversaw agricultural development and early industry — especially the production of silk; imparted knowledge of law and medicine; encouraged empathy and charity through her Quaker faith; and nurtured an influential literary current through her poetry, far-reaching correspondence, and personal library. Wright’s Ferry Mansion has been restored with great care to accurately represent the residency of Susanna Wright. The restrained sophistication of English-born but Philadelphia-transmitted William and Mary and Queen Anne furniture styles accentuate the simplicity of documented bare scrubbed floors and unadorned window casings. The well-researched collection of fine and decorative arts representing the period of 1700 to 1750 is recognized as one of the most authentic and complete in the Nation. Regional in focus, it is presented with unrivaled, straightforward clarity to convey the design intent and practical purpose of each object. Period appropriate fruits, vegetables, and flowers are daily integrated into period accurate recreations of public and private spaces. The curators’ intent is to replicate, as best as possible, the time in which this region of Pennsylvania was seen as the bridge between settled communities and the Continent’s unchartered wilderness. Visitors to Wright’s Ferry Mansion are welcome. Tours are limited. All tours are guided by professional staff and restricted to no more than ten attendees. Due to constrictions of the historic structure, access is limited to persons able to comfortably ascend and descend stairs, as well as remain standing for a full hour. Susanna Wright Susanna Wright — “the blue stockings of Susquehanna” — enhanced her intellect through exchanges with some of the most inventive minds of 18th century Philadelphia — and beyond. Prolific in French, Latin, and Italian, she studied local Indian dialects when she moved to her then new residence in today’s Columbia, Pennsylvania. Literature was her constant delight; she brought — via London booksellers — the great published works of England and Europe to the wilds of North America. Writings of Milton, Swift, Pope, Racine, as well as descriptive travel accounts of other continents formed her impressive personal library. Founding Father and fellow bibliophile Benjamin Franklin — when in London — sent her little gifts along with the books she ordered through him. These gifts included a thermometer, an almanac for the new year; and bayberry candles. In turn, the Philadelphia-based Franklin family received casks of pickled Susquehanna salmon, baskets of apples, and engaging letters discussing local seasonal changes, challenges of rural governing, and loftier Age of Enlightenment theories and treatises. Wright’s Ferry Mansion’s Restoration Largely untouched from its original construction, Wright’s Ferry Mansion was acquired in 1973 by Louise and Richard C. von Hess — a couple dedicated to historic preservation and sharing a unique appreciation of period art and design. Together, they began a long and most thoughtful project of restoration to preserve this unique example of Colonial architecture. They formed the Louise Steinman von Hess Foundation to insure its protection while in the process of developing a renowned complimentary collection of period appropriate fine and decorative arts for the benefit of scholars, collectors, and visitors. Richard von Hess led the vision to create this very special museum, an endeavor he refined over nearly twenty-five years, until his 1997 death. The restored house and its collection were his true passion. vvv
Introduction by Thomas Hills Cook, Chair and Managing Trustee of the Louise Steinman von Hess Foundation
Welcome to the Collection, by the late Joseph Kindig III, noted furniture authority.
©Wright’s Ferry Mansion January 2023