Hidden Gems…on the Main Line

I’ve been a resident of the Main Line for decades now. Never expected to stay but that’s how it played out and it’s a great place to live and work. I’ve visited the major attractions…

I’ve been a resident of the Main Line for decades now. Never expected to stay but that’s how it played out and it’s a great place to live and work. I’ve visited the major attractions many times alone, with family and with out-of-town guests and still enjoy them: the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross House, the Art Museum, Please Touch Museum, the Franklin Institute. While there’s usually a new exhibit to explore at the Museums, it’s nice to break out and discover places, hidden gems within an hour drive of home and some much closer.

A few of the interesting, off the beaten track destinations I’ve explored are shared below. Maybe, if you haven’t already, you’d like to check them out and discover something new.

Chanticleer Gardens
Wednesday – Sunday
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Friday evenings until 8:00 PM
786 Church Road, Wayne

Chanticleer is one of the great gardens of the region. Once the Rosengarten estate, today’s Chanticleer is a colorful, contemporary garden within an historic setting. The Chanticleer estate dates from the early 20th-century, when land along the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad was developed for summer homes to escape the heat of Philadelphia. The garden opened to the public in 1993. There are 20 full-time staff, including 14 gardeners and groundskeepers. Admission: $10, Radnor Library card holders $5, Children 12 and under free.

Chanticleer 2018 Photo courtesy of Chanticleer, image by Lisa Roper

Woodmere Art Museum
Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Friday 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
9201 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia (Bells Mill Road in Chestnut Hill)

Housed in a 19th-century stone mansion on six acres in Chestnut Hill, Woodmere Art Museum is dedicated to the art and artists of Philadelphia. The building and grounds, together with the core of the collection, are the gifts of Charles Knox Smith (1845 – 1916), who purchased the estate in 1898 with the intent of transforming it into a showcase for his great collection of art. Smith opened Woodmere’s doors to the public in 1910.
Woodmere continues to honor Smith’s vision to bring art and nature together and in recent years has acquired important examples of outdoor sculpture by Harry Bertoia and Dina Wind. Woodmere’s collection consists of more than 6,000 works of art, and nine galleries offer exhibitions and programs that serve adults and children. Woodmere also offers lectures, panel discussions, gallery talks, tours, jazz and classical music and films. Admission: Adults $10, Seniors (55+) $7, Children, Students, Members free.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Tuesday – Friday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Saturday, Sunday 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
118 – 128 North Broad Street, Philadelphia

PAFA’s museum is internationally known for its collections of 19th- and 20th-century American paintings, sculptures, and works on paper. Its archives house important materials for the study of American art history, museums, and art training. The current museum building, designed by American architects Frank Furness and George W. Hewitt, is designated a National Historic Landmark.
PAFA also organizes annual art exhibitions from which significant acquisitions were made, including works by Cecilia Beaux, William Merritt Chase, Frank Duvenek, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, Childe Hassam, and Edmund Tarbell.
Today, PAFA maintains its strong collecting tradition with the inclusion of works by modern and contemporary American artists such as Jennifer Bartlett, Richard Diebenkorn, Nancy Graves, Alex Katz, Philip Pearlstein, Robert Motherwell, Raymond Saunders, and Frank Stella. Admission: Adults $15, Seniors (60+) $12, Students $12, Youth 13-18 $8.

Mercer Museum
Monday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday Noon – 5:00 PM
84 South Pine Street, Doylestown

By 1897 handmade objects were being discarded in favor of new machine-made goods. Historian and archaeologist Henry Mercer (1856-1930) recognized the need to collect and preserve the outmoded material of daily life in America before it was swept away by the Industrial Revolution and gathered almost 30,000 items ranging from hand tools to horse-drawn vehicles. To enhance the collection’s educational value, and to share it with the public, Mercer decided in 1916 to design and build a 6 story concrete castle to display the artifacts.
The building features a unique interior that is both logical and provocative, requiring the visitor to view objects in a new way. Henry Mercer donated the building and his collection to the Bucks County Historical Society. The Mercer Museum is recognized as a National Historic Landmark. Admission: Adults $15, Seniors (65+) $13, Youth (6-17) $8. (Combo tickets $26. for Mercer and Fonthill.)

Fonthill Castle
Monday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sundays Noon – 5:00 PM
East Court Street & Route 313, Doylestown

Built between 1908-1912, Fonthill was the home of Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930). Archaeologist, anthropologist, ceramist, scholar and antiquarian, Mercer built Fonthill both as his home and as a showplace for his collection of tiles and prints. The first of three Mercer buildings in Doylestown, Fonthill served as a showplace for Mercer’s famed Moravian tiles that were produced during the American Arts & Crafts Movement. Designed by Mercer, the building is an eclectic mix of Medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine architectural styles, and is significant as an early example of poured reinforced concrete. Admission: Adults $15, Seniors (65+) $13, Youth (6-17) $8. (Combo tickets $26. For Fonthill and Mercer.)

Shofuso Japanese House and Gardens
Wednesday – Friday 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Saturday, Sunday 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Horticultural and Lansdowne Drives
West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia

Shofuso Japanese House and Garden is a traditional-style Japanese house and nationally-ranked garden in Philadelphia’s West Fairmount Park that reflects the history of Japanese culture in Philadelphia, from the 1876 Centennial Exposition to present day. Shofuso hosts over 30,000 visitors each year from more than 20 different countries.
The Japanese House and Garden was conceived as part of an exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Designed by Japanese mid-century modernist architect Junzo Yoshimura in 1953, the house was built in Nagoya, Japan, using traditional materials and techniques. The house was part of “The House in the Museum Garden” series, which exhibited three different types of structures that influenced mid-century modern American architecture. Shofuso was the last structure in the exhibit and was moved to Philadelphia at its conclusion and reassembled at the current site 1957-58. Admission: Adults $12, Seniors $8, Youth 5-17 $8, Children under 5 free.

Museum of American Glass at Wheaton Arts
Open Tuesday – Sunday
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
1501 Glasstown Road
Millville, NJ

The comprehensive collection ranges from early American bottles and flasks, Mason jars and paperweights, to work from today’s exciting contemporary glass artists. Admission: Adults $10, Seniors 62+ $9, Students $7, 5 and under free.

American Helicopter Museum
Wednesday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday Noon – 5:00 PM
1220 American Boulevard, West Chester

The American Helicopter Museum & Education Center’s is a “hands-on museum” where visitors can get into a real helicopter and operate the controls, as well as fly a realistic flight simulator. It is also a research center with over 20,000 items from the history of aviation.
The American Helicopter Museum & Educational Center opened to the public in October 1996 to serve as a “lasting tribute to those men and women who pioneered the development of rotary wing aircraft” and to encourage future generations of aviation pioneers. From humble beginnings, the museum now has a comprehensive collection of rotorcraft. Admission: Adults $10, Seniors Students $8, Youth under 12 $7, Veterans and children under 2 free.

Winterthur Museum
Tuesday – Sunday
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
5105 Kennett Pike
Winterthur, DE

Tours are offered to visit where Henry Francis du Pont entertained family and friends in grand style. The 175 rooms, many of them with historical architecture, are furnished with his collection of antiques and curated, changing selections from more than 90,000 objects are available. General admission includes introductory house tour: $20. Adults 62+, $18; Children 2-11 $6. Reserved specialty tours, additional $10.

Wharton Esherick Museum
Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Sunday 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
1520 Horseshoe Trail, Malvern

Tours by reservation only: 610-644-5822 to book your guided tour or book online. The Wharton Esherick Museum celebrates and preserves the legacy of American artist Wharton Esherick, who worked primarily in wood to create furniture, furnishings, interiors, buildings and more. A National Historic Landmark for Architecture, his hilltop studio/residence in Chester County, Pennsylvania, with more than 300 of his works on exhibition, has been preserved much as it was when the artist lived and worked there. Admission: Adults $15, Seniors $13, Students $12, Children 5 – 12 years $8.
Photo credit: Charles Uniatowski