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Awbury Arboretum Association records


Held at: Awbury Arboretum [Contact Us]The Francis Cope House, One Awbury Road, Philadelphia, PA, 19138

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Awbury Arboretum. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

"In 1852, Henry Cope, a Philadelphia ship owner, bought forty acres of farm land in East Germantown near the home of his daughter and son-in-law, Mary Cope and John Smith Haines. At that time, Germantown--which was not yet part of the City of Philadelphia--was largely undeveloped and an ideal place for country living. A large house was built on the property as a summer home for Henry, his wife Rachel Reeve Cope, and their grown children and families.

"Henry Cope named the estate after the village of Avebury in Wiltshire, England, from which the Cope family had originally emigrated. The Henry Cope house and the Haines house were the first of what would become an entire community of houses at Awbury built by various members of the Cope Family over several generations. When the Henry Cope house became too crowded with children and grandchildren, Henry's son Francis built a new house nearby in 1861. Soon after, three of Francis' children built houses at Awbury for their growing families. Other cousins in the family of Francis Cope's brother Thomas did the same. By the 1920's 24 houses had been established throughout what is present day Awbury.

"As the Cope family expanded, Germantown's farmland was rapidly being developed. By World War I, Awbury was an island of green space surrounded by blocks of houses. In 1916, in the face of impending development, Cope family members, headed by William Draper Lewis, son-in-law of Francis R. Cope, moved to secure the preservation of Awbury's intact landscape by donating around 20 acres to the City Parks Association, a private, non-governmental organization focused on preserving green spaces within the city of Philadelphia.

"Each of the buildings in Awbury's Historic District has connections with the extended Cope family and, together, these structures illustrate aspects of this Quaker family's way of life. The buildings of Awbury (which include two former carriage house/stables) exemplify a range of architectural styles, including Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, and Tudor Revival, that were popular in the United States from 1850 to the 1920's. Individually, the buildings reflect almost a century's worth of designs by a series of prominent architects including Thomas Ustick Walter, Addison Hutton, Brockie and Hastings, Carl Ziegler, Cope and Stewardson, and Edmund Gilchrist. Twenty-four of the Awbury houses are listed on the National Register of Historic places as part of the Awbury Historic District, established in 2001. All of the houses are now privately owned, with the exception of the Francis Cope House, which [as of 2012] contains the administrative offices, educational classrooms and archives of the Arboretum."


Awbury Arboretum Association. "Cope House and Historic Properties." Accessed December 19, 2011.

This collection includes administrative records, such as committee minutes, correspondence, by-laws and articles of incorporation; financial records, such as financial statements, personnel records, and annual reports; and research compiled by Awbury Arboretum staff, consisting of photocopies of primary source documents and secondary historical articles. There are four VHS tapes, 2007-2009; one clippings scrapbook, 1977-1982; and three boxes of oral history audio cassettes, 1993, and other audio cassettes, 1989-1998. The collection also includes many oversize items, such as maps and drawings of the Awbury area, and plans for renovations to the arboretum and the Cope house.

The collection is currently arranged into the following boxes:

Box 1. City Parks Association/Awbury Arboretum Administration, 1916-1983

Box 2. Awbury Arboretum Administration, 1984-2011

Box 2a. Awbury Arboretum founding documents and history, 1909-1941

Box 2b. History of Awbury Arboretum and related subjects

Box 3. Awbury Arboretum Board Minutes and Information, 1982-2011

Box 4a. Indentures, deeds and agreements, 1684-1987

Box 4b. Indentures, deeds and agreements, 1953-2011

Box 5a. Awbury Arboretum Association, City Parks Association, information on specific properties, 1917-2011

Box 5b. Francis Cope House history and repairs, 1948-2011

Box 5c. Awbury Arboretum Francis Cope House conservation by Roman Tybinko, 1996-2005

Box 6. Awbury Arboretum National Register of Historical Places applications, 1979-1995

Box 7. Awbury Arboretum reports and plans, 1989-2011

Box 8. City Parks/Awbury Arboretum Commitee minutes, 1917-1953

Box 9a. Awbury Arboretum financial records, 1933-1984

Box 9b. Awbury Arboretum financial records, 1985-2011

Box 10. Awbury Arboretum Association personnel files, 1980s-1990s

Box 11. Awbury Arboretum events, rentals, contracts, etc

Box 12. Awbury Appeal/fundraising and membership, 1977-2011

Box 13. Awbury Arboretum clippings file, 1822-2011

Box 14. Awbury Arboretum newsletters, 1978-2006

Box 15. Awbury Arboretum programs, public relations, development publications, and annual reports, 1975-2011

Box 16. Awbury Arboretum environmental education, 1976-2011

Box 17. Awbury Arboretum Garden, landscaping history and information, 1918-2011

Box 18. Awbury Arboretum oral history transcripts

Box 27. Awbury Arboretum history and biographical information

Box 28. General Quaker Information, 1994-2003

Box 36. Cope reunions, 1994-2002

Awbury Neighbors, 2007

Materials collected by the Awbury Arboretum Association.

Awbury Arboretum
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Michael Gubicza through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Access Restrictions

Some personnel files contain social security records and are restricted. Contact Awbury Arboretum for information about accessing this collection.

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