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FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS

Lemon Hill’s ‘Living History Lessons’ Captivate Young Students

House tours encourage adults and students to imagine life as it was lived 200 years ago

Lemon Hill, built in 1800 as a summer villa, an escape from the heat and disease of Philadelphia, is now the scene of tours for curious Philadelphia school students, eager to learn about life 200 years ago. At Lemon Hill, young visitors can experience the art and architecture, history and horticulture of early 19th century Philadelphia.

The educational tours for children were originated by Joyce Jones, who was appointed house director and chief guide in 1976 by Lemon Hill’s administrators, the Colonial Dames of America, Chapter II (CDA). Mrs. Jones lived in the home’s first floor apartment early in her tenure. Many of the tours include informational tidbits she researched to capture the attention of 3rd through 8th graders from the local Strawberry Mansion community as well as other communities throughout Greater Philadelphia.

School tours
Lemon Hill warmly welcomes school groups to visit during the year, in the spring and fall, to enjoy Lemon Hill’s “Living History Lessons.” Lemon Hill provides bus transportation for inner city schools, and waives the fee for those who cannot afford it.

“The tours have a tremendous effect on the children,” Jones said. “The students are able to touch history. They love the house and the stories that we tell, especially those dealing with early American children their age who did not have any form of modern technology.” Students express surprise at Lemon Hill’s lack of modern bathrooms, and that early 19th century children did not have video games or television for entertainment.

Lemon Hill’s education program gives students a “hands on” experience of life in early 19th century Philadelphia and aims to ignite an interest and excitement about American history, in general. After touring the house in small groups with a guide, students return with activity sheets and information that cannot be gleaned from any textbook. Tours also include lunch on the porch and free play in the garden. Future plans include hands-on activities, like playing with replicas of toys, crafts and games of the 1800s.

In 2006, Lemon Hill began to offer tours jointly with Laurel Hill, another historic house in Fairmount Park. Students spend the morning touring both houses and enjoying lunch at one of the sites. Afterward, students write letters about their tours that show how much they’ve learned from their experience. Alma Jacobs, president of Women for Greater Philadelphia, the group that administers Laurel Hill, said, “We are amazed at how much information students retain from their visits.” Jacobs believes introducing the park houses to a younger generation will ensure the villas’ support and preservation into the future.

The house is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

For more information about Lemon Hill’s educational tours and those offered jointly with Laurel Hill, please contact Joyce Jones at 215-232-4337.


LEMON HILL MANSION · SEDGELEY & LEMON HILL DRIVES · PHILADELPHIA, PA 19130 · 215.232.4337 · Contact Us