Episode 011: Jessica Baumert, The Woodlands Historic Site of Philadelphia

The Woodlands

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania plays host to many historic sites associated with our early American history: Carpenters Hall, Independence Hall, and the Betsy Ross House represent just a few of its historic holdings.

But have you ever heard about, or visited, The Woodlands?

The Woodlands and its founder/developer, William Hamilton, played an important role in the architectural and botanical development of Philadelphia and the young United States.

In this episode, Jessica Baumert, Executive Director of The Woodlands historic site in West Philadelphia, guides us through The Woodlands and its significant architectural and botanical history.


About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with an historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Episode Summary

BaumertIn this episode, Jessica Baumert, Executive Director of The Woodlands, takes us on a journey of The Woodlands estate and historic site in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Jessica reveals what The Woodlands historic site is and what you can expect to find there when you visit, how its original owner and developer William Hamilton came to develop this unique estate between the 1766 and 1813, and what role Hamilton and The Woodlands played in the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

Oh! Jessica also shares information about The Woodlands’ secret passageways and how they were used!

What You’ll Discover

  • How Jessica became interested in historic cemeteries
  • Why cemeteries can be great places to learn about a place and its history
  • What to look for in historic cemeteries if you want to discover more about a particular place and its history
  • What The Woodlands historic site is and what you can expect to find when you visit
  • Who William Hamilton was and how you developed The Woodlands estate
  • Why The Woodlands is an unique historic site
  • Information about Georgian, Adam, and Federal architectural styles
  • What a crypto-porticus is and why Hamilton built one underneath his home
  • Information about George Hilton, Hamilton’s black indentured servant who rose to become his head gardener
  • The role played by William Hamilton in the botanical development of the landscapes of Philadelphia and North America
  • William Hamilton’s involvement in the Lewis and Clark Expedition
  • Why The Woodlands Cemetery Company was founded on Hamilton’s estate in 1840
  • Information about programs and activities hosted by The Woodlands throughout the year

 Woodlands Drawing


Links to People, Places, and Publications


Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

  • What might have happened if William Hamilton had had a different hobby than botany? How would the landscape of West Philadelphia or North America be different?


Questions, Comments, Suggestions

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Get in Touch! Send me an e-mail, tweet, or leave a comment.



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*Drawing of The Woodlands courtesy of the Library of Congress



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