The Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion is the only authentically restored Victorian house museum and garden in Philadelphia. Visitors step back in time to discover a living record of the comforts and tastes of the rising middle class in an era when central heat, indoor plumbing, and running water were wondrous luxuries... when gas lighting, grained woodwork and stenciled ceiling decorations were emblems of social standing.
In 1859, Ebenezer Maxwell, a cloth merchant, built his villa a few blocks away from the railroad station and rode the train each day to his office in Philadelphia. The architecture is an blend of styles popular in the Victorian period: English (romantic Gothic Revival), Italian (tall bell tower), Flemish (the curved cornices at either side of the tower) and French (the steep slate mansard roof).
The quarter-acre garden surrounding the Maxwell Mansion was created based on the design principles of two famous Victorian landscape architects, Andrew Jackson Downing and Frank J. Scott. One hundred and fifty varieties of trees, plants, shrubs, ferns, and flowers now fill the area. The front and right garden was inspired by the pre-Civil War garden concepts of Andrew Jackson Downing. He promoted clumps of bold, irregular plantings that look picturesque as in a wild forest.
The Mansion’s first floor has been restored to depict Victorian life in the 1860’s. The second floor is interpreted to represent the late 1870’s to 1880’s. The fashion at the time was for painted and stenciled wall decoration coupled with elaborate ceiling designs. The Maxwell kitchen was very innovative for its time and features many labor-saving devices of the Industrial Revolution. The new technology of mechanical gears was applied to apple peelers, meat and coffee grinders, cherry pitters and whips for cream.
The Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion is located in the Germantown section of Philadelphia at the corner of Tulpehocken and Greene Streets.