About us

Mission Statement

A historic house museum, the 1738 Wright’s Ferry Mansion celebrates important examples of pre-1750 fine art, decorative arts, architecture, as well as a multi-generational narrative reflective of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and its surrounding region. Through ongoing preservation, engaging tours, insightful publications, and unique programming, WFM serves to enrich the lives of its community — residing and visiting, fostering scholarly research, connoisseurship, and general appreciation for our collective past, present, and future.

An image of colorful embroidery from Wright's Ferry Mansion



Quaker refinement, colonial charm

Wright’s Ferry Mansion stands as testament of a small settlement built by a handful of English Quakers who migrated from Pennsylvania’s Chester and Darby counties to wild and virtually uninhabited country along the Susquehanna River. Fulfilling English Quaker refinement and simplicity, this 1738 house reflects the varied interests and pursuits of its original owner, Susanna Wright. The Mansion’s near encyclopedic collection of decorative arts representing the first half of the 18th century is recognized as one of the most important in the Nation.

Eyes Toward

the Future

Future Development

The Louise Steinman von Hess Foundation is presently developing an institutional master plan for an expanded role in the cultural life of the Columbia, Pennsylvania region. Over the next five years, the restored 18th-century Wright’s Ferry Mansion will be joined by an education and visitor center, sited within an 1870s railroad freight building that stands between WFM and the Susquehanna River.

An image of the Parlor in Wright's Ferry Mansion

Education and Visitor Center

The Louise Steinman von Hess Education and Visitor Center will include permanent exhibitions on the Wright family, the restoration of Wright’s Ferry Mansion, and on the Museum’s fine and decorative arts collections. A changing exhibition gallery will celebrate on-going, regionally significant historical research as well as works by contemporary artists and artisans, reflective of the history and mission of Wright’s Ferry Mansion as well as the collections overseen by the Louise Steinman von Hess Foundation. In addition, there will be accommodations for lectures and other educational programming.

An image of The Cottage


In tribute to Mr. and Mrs. von Hess, the building originally built to house the administrative staff of Wright’s Ferry Mansion in the late 1970s – known as the Cottage – will also be shared with small groups of visitors. The Cottage’s first floor — exhibiting some of the couple’s treasured drawings, paintings, works of sculpture, furniture, and decorative objects, representing six centuries of Western design and artistic achievement — will be opened for limited tours during the months of May through October. When initiated, this additional venue will afford a most unique celebration of the von Hesses’ commitment to connoisseurship. Tours of the very personal first-floor galleries of the Cottage will no doubt further reinforce Mr. von Hess’ belief that if he and his wife were “going to [open a museum], we should do it the best way we know how.”

An image of the Richard C. von Hess Library and Archive

The Library

To coincide with the future opening of the Cottage, the Louise Steinman von Hess Foundation will also initiate public access to the Richard C. von Hess Library and Archive. Consisting of published works on American and European art, architecture, design, and general history as well as archival materials relating to both the Wright family and the Columbia, Pennsylvania region, this resource named in honor of Mr. von Hess will be available to professional researchers and scholars by appointment. These resources will also be made available to regional college and university programs, fostering guest-curatorships and new research endeavors.

Our Staff

James Archer Abbott
Executive Director & Chief Curator
Elizabeth Dillon
Assistant Curator and Coordinator of Education
Tess Wilson
Curatorial Assistant
John W. Raup
Adjunct Cataloger of Collections
Kate Carr Lints
Bookkeeper and Accounts Administrator
Kate Foehinger
Property Manager
Michael Furnari
Information Administrator