The lavishly decorated rooms in the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion (Philly’s only authentically restored Victorian museum and garden) are an atmospheric setting for Victorian Theater. Most productions (including occasional musical evenings played on the gorgeous piano), take place in the drawing room. Since the museum is actually more of a large house than a mansion (staff thought “Maxwell House” sounded a bit too coffee commercialish), performances are intimate – usually only 25-30 seats.
The house is open for guided tours Thursday-Saturday at 12:15, 1:15, 2:15 and 3:15. Rooms on the first floor (including the kitchen (with its coal stove and copper hot water boiler), dining room and parlor) are interpreted to the 1860s. The servants’ bell-pull system is still visible in the kitchen, something I’ve read in a lot of stories, but the first I’ve ever actually seen.
The gardens surrounding the mansion have been created to be historically accurate, using garden design books from the 1840s and 1870s. Information about the design books and gardens can be found on the museum’s website https://ebenezermaxwellmansion.org/the-gardens/.
The house is located in the Tulpehocken Station Historic District. As downtown Philadelphia became more crowded and dirty, the upper-middle class began heading out. Fueled by the development of a commuter rail line, this area was one of the first residential enclaves away from downtown. Large suburban houses were built in the area from about 1850 to 1900 in a variety of Victorian styles. You can view many of these original homes on a walk around the Maxwell Mansion.