Wright's Ferry Mansion
History is alive and well in Columbia Pennsylvania
Railroad Building Visitors Center
Under Renovation. Please check back in Fall of 2023
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 visitors center, sited within the 1880s railroad freight building that stands between WFM and the Susquehanna River. The 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 work of contemporary artists and artisans reflective of the history and mission of Wright’s Ferry Mansion and the collections overseen by the Louise Steinman von Hess Foundation. In addition, there will be accommodations for lectures and other educational programming.
This rare surviving wood and brick building was acquired by Richard C. von Hess following the initial restoration of Wright’s Ferry Mansion. Most likely designed by Frank H. Furness (1839-1912), the Philadelphia-based architect responsible for the iconic, reformist-styled museum building of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, it was subsequently stabilized and restored by the von Hess Foundation for later use.
In addition to the planned education and visitors center, the Foundation will offer public hours (by appointment) for the archive and research library at Wright’s Ferry Mansion. These are housed within the offices of WFM — known as the Cottage, built in the mid-1970s by Mr. and Mrs. von Hess. These resources will also be made available to local college and university programs, fostering guest-curatorships and new research endeavors. [The date in initiating this service has yet to be determined.]
Lastly, in tribute to Mr. and Mrs. von Hess, the Cottage’s own first floor galleries — exhibiting some of the couple’s collected drawings, paintings, works of sculpture, furniture, and decorative arts, representing five centuries of Western design and artistic achievement — will be opened for intimate guided tours. When initiated, this addition will afford an even greater appreciation of the von Hesses’ commitment to preservation and connoisseurship. Access to the Cottage will serve to well illustrate Mr. von Hess’ pre-WFM restoration belief that if he and his wife were “going to do this, we should do it the best way we know how."
©Wright’s Ferry Mansion January 2023