Mount Pleasant (mansion)

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Mount Pleasant
Mount Pleasant, Fairmount Park, wide view of land side.JPG
main house (2014)
Mount Pleasant (mansion) is located in Philadelphia
Mount Pleasant (mansion)
Mount Pleasant (mansion) is located in Pennsylvania
Mount Pleasant (mansion)
Mount Pleasant (mansion) is located in the US
Mount Pleasant (mansion)
Location Mount Pleasant Drive, between Kelly Drive and Columbia Avenue
Fairmount Park
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Coordinates 39°59′0″N 75°11′59″W / 39.98333°N 75.19972°W / 39.98333; -75.19972Coordinates: 39°59′0″N 75°11′59″W / 39.98333°N 75.19972°W / 39.98333; -75.19972
Area < 1-acre (4,000 m2)
Built c.1761
Architectural style Georgian
NRHP reference # 66000685
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966[1]
Designated NHL May 30, 1974[2]

Mount Pleasant is a historic mansion in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, atop cliffs overlooking the Schuylkill River. It was built about 1761–62 in what was then the countryside outside the city by John Macpherson and his wife Margaret. Macpherson was a privateer, or perhaps a pirate, who had had "an arm twice shot off" according to John Adams. He named the house "Clunie" after the ancient seat of his family's clan in Scotland.[3]

The builder-architect was Thomas Nevell (1721–1797), an apprentice of Edmund Woolley, who built Independence Hall. The house is administered by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Fairmount Park.[4]

It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974.[2][5]

Architecture and history[edit]

Captain John Macpherson (1726–1792)

The Georgian mansion has an entrance topped by a pediment supported by Doric columns.[6] A balustrade crowns the roof which also has prominent dormers and two large chimneys. Two small symmetrical pavilions flank the main house, an office and a summer kitchen. All are adorned with brick quoins.

John Adams visited the mansion in 1775 and called it "the most elegant seat in Pennsylvania." The interiors contain the original paneling with ornamental carving, and still show the "elegance of the lifestyle of colonial elites," as well as souvenirs of Macpherson's life and times and period furniture by craftsmen such as Martin Jugiez. The furniture is from the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.[7]

Mount Pleasant was also home to Benedict Arnold and his wife Peggy Shippen. Arnold purchased the mansion on March 22, 1779 for his new bride, and specifically made the property over to her, although, due to the high price of the estate and Benedicts deteriorating funds, he had to sell it, thus the couple never got a chance to move in.

In 1792, the mansion was purchased by Jonathan Williams, first superintendent of West Point and grandnephew of Benjamin Franklin. He lived there intermittently until his death in 1815, and his children sold the estate to Fairmount Park.

The structure was restored in 1926 by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


See also[edit]



  1. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b "Mount Pleasant". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved March 15, 2008. 
  3. ^ "Mount Pleasant". Independence Hall Association. 
  4. ^ "Fairmount Park Houses: Mount Pleasant". Philadelphia Museum of Art. 
  5. ^ Patricia Heintzelman (August 30, 1974). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination:" (pdf). National Park Service.  and Accompanying seven photos, exterior and interior, from 1974 and undated (32 KB)
  6. ^ Mount Pleasant :: – The Official Visitor Site for Greater Philadelphia
  7. ^ Mount Pleasant, Philadelphia Museum of Art. Accessed May 22, 2012.

External links[edit]