4000 Woodland Ave., 215/386-2181
HOURS: Cemetery always open, mansion hours vary
Famous Philadelphia lawyer Andrew Hamilton purchased the land at Woodlands, approximately 300 acres, in 1735. The mansion was built in 1787, long after his death; the carriage house and stable were built in 1792 under the ownership of his grandson William. The federal-style mansion was a 16-room manor and one of Philadelphia’s  finest estates for many years.
William was an active botanist and the lands and greenhouses contained more than 10,000 different plant species, some grown from seeds harvested during Lewis and Clark’s expeditions. More than 720 historic trees and plants have survived today.
After William’s death in 1813, much of the property was sold and in 1840 the Woodlands Cemetery Company purchased the remaining grounds. Winding brick paths from the original landscape are now lined with headstones honoring notable Philadelphians including Thomas Eakins, Rembrandt Peale, the Drexel and Biddle families, surgical pioneer Dr. Samuel Gross, and railroad magnates Asa Whitney and John Edgar Thompson.
Woodlands, along with Laurel Hill Cemetery , served as an innovative improvement to the overcrowded city-church cemeteries that dominated early Philadelphia . Both were unique in their elaborate landscaping and architecture and in their isolated locations. According to an early advertisement for the cemetery, “the decaying bodies of the dead may securely moulder into kindred dust, with an abundant vegetation and free winds to absorb and dissipate all noxious effluvia.”
Today, the Woodlands Cemetery Company, a nonprofit organization, works with the Friends of Woodlands and the University City Historical Society to preserve and maintain the mansion and cemetery grounds. If you visit when the office is open, grab a map showing where people are buried. You can also tour the mansion, which is undergoing a much-needed renovation but still serves as an impressive example of federal architecture.