Like Stenton (Stenton: The Story of an Influential Colonial Family), Clivedon (Cliveden: Colonial Bullet Holes & a Fabulous Retro Kitchen), and Grumblethorp (Grumblethorp: The Bloodstained Floor!) – all just down the street, Wyck was owned by the same family for generations and passed directly from the family to a museum, preserving the home, contents, and thousands of documents. In the case of Wyck, it was 9 generations, from 1690 to 1973.

Although the original 1690 log cabin is gone, the existing house is an accumulation of 18th-century parts: the hall (c. 1700–20), the front parlor (1736) and the library and dining room (1771–73), which replaced the original log cabin. When the 1777 Battle of Germantown raged out front, the house was used as a field hospital for British soldiers. The last major renovations took place in 1824 when the interior was redesigned by Philadelphia architect William Strickland.

Today it is still furnished with pieces original to the house, and contains over 100,000 family documents. My favorite is this scrapbook (which you are welcome to flip through), detailing garden plans, plant varieties, and details of needlepoint flower designs based on flowers from the garden.

I’m not sure which I love more, Wyck’s commitment to horticultural history (Philly Gardens: Stop and Smell the Historic Roses (Wyck)) or culinary history. Wyck still makes the “almond mackaroons” and “New Year’s Cakes” found in Hannah Marshall Haines’s (1765-1828) recipe book for museum events.

Hannah’s son, Reuben Haines III (1786-1831), was a prominent member of Philadelphia’s scientific elite, collecting, experimenting, and helping to found the Academy of Natural Sciences (Dioramas & Dinosaurs (and a cockroach): The Academy of Natural Sciences for Adults), the Franklin Institute, and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. While secretary of the Academy, he nominated John James Audubon for membership (he was rejected!). In 1830 members of the Peale family (Putting Faces to the Revolution: The Portrait Gallery at Independence Park) came to Wyck to boil elephant bones for their museum.

Wyck’s historic farm is still active today as a vegetable and herb garden, with a Home Farm Club and historic food-ways lecture series. Several of the original farm structures still stand, including the coach house (1794), smoke house (c. 1797), ice house (1836), and greenhouse (1914).

The Haines family were leading beer brewers in 18th century Philadelphia, with George Washington and Ben Franklin as customers. The brewery eventually moved from Market Street in Philadelphia to Germantown, next to Wyck’s rose garden, on what is today Walnut Lane. Today, Young American cider brewers and Attic Brewers are continuing the Germantown brewery tradition.

Wyck’s grounds are open Tu-Sa, but the house is only open for touring Thurs-Sat, 12-4.