Built in 1738, Wright’s Ferry Mansion reflects the sophisticated tastes and panoply of interests of its original owner, Susanna Wright. A dynamic force in establishing colonial self-sufficiency, she encouraged industry, especially the production of silk and linen; implanted her Quaker beliefs; and stimulated a literary current through her poetry and correspondence. She quickened her intellect with some of the most inventive minds of eighteenth-century Philadelphia, like James Logan, Benjamin Franklin and Charles Thomson.
Versed in Latin and Italian and fluent in French, she also studied the local native American language when she moved to the fringes of Pennsylvania’s wilderness in 1726. Literature was her constant delight; and she brought, via London booksellers, the leaves of European civilization to the wilds of America. Milton, Swift, Pope, Racine and Corneille nurtured the insatiable mind of this inquisitive colonist. Fellow bibliophile Benjamin Franklin would send her little presents along with the books she ordered: a thermometer, an almanac for the new year, and bayberry candles. In turn, the Franklin family would receive casks of pickled “Susquehanna salmon,” baskets of apples and charming letters from Susanna’s pen. In order to gather support for Braddock’s troops during the French and Indian War, Benjamin Franklin sought her advice and her brother James supplied flour for the troops from his mill on the nearby Shawnee Run. He and his brother John ran the ferry which was established in 1730 on Susanna Wright’s hundred acre tract of land on the east shore of the Susquehanna River.
Wright’s Ferry Mansion has been restored and furnished by The von Hess Foundation with meticulous care to the time that Susanna Wright lived in the house, from 1738 till 1750, and is the only Pennsylvania English Quaker house that has been furnished exclusively to the first half of the eighteenth century. The restrained elegance and sophistication of Philadelphia William and Mary and Queen Anne furnishings are accentuated by the bucolic austerity of bare scrubbed floors and windows without hangings. The collection of ceramics, glass, metals, textiles and Pennsylvania furniture made from 1700 to 1750 is one of the most complete and representative in the country and is enlivened by a freshness of impression, as if its eighteenth-century inhabitant had just left the room. The von Hess Foundation has produced a rare combination: a house permeated with the atmosphere of another age and a rich academic milieu that emanates the artistic, cultural and spiritual aspirations of early eighteenth-century America.
Open May through October
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
10:00 to 3:00 (last tour begins at 3:00)
Admission: $5.00 adults $2.50 children
Reservations required for groups
Wright’s Ferry Mansion
Second and Cherry Streets
PO Box 68
Columbia, PA 17512