There is so much to love about a tour of the Wharton Esherick house… the monkey, getting to wear booties over your shoes, a photo-op in Wharton’s re-created outhouse, the woodblock prints (my favorite art form),
the Arts & Crafts furniture…
Disappointing his parents, who wanted him to pursue business, Wharton (1887 – 1970) instead chose the arts. Starting with painting, then moving on to woodblock prints, sculpture and furniture, his home is a showcase of his personal style and place in the forefront of the American Arts & Crafts and Modernist movements. Wharton moved to the area with his wife in 1913, when the area was rural and cheap. Knowing the difficulties involved with making a living as a working artist, the Eshericks planned to grow their own food and live close to the land. The current museum began as Wharton’s studio (after separating from his wife, he later moved in and lived full time), with construction beginning in 1926 and continuing over 40 years.
Everything is handmade (by Wharton, with help from his friends) and is full of his unique touches (including the bathrooms). Today, it is still furnished as it was when he lived and worked there
On site is Wharton’s garage (now used as the Visitor Center, with a small gift shop and art displays), as well as his 1956 workshop, designed with friend and local architect Louis Kahn.
The farmhouse, where Wharton first moved with his family, is located through the trees further down the hill. The farmhouse has recently come under control of the museum, and will someday be incorporated in the museum experience.
The house can only be viewed on docent-led tours.
Location: Valley Forge Mountain, just outside of Philadelphia