Andalusia

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Bensalem Township, PA
United States
Andalusia

Landscape Information

Nicholas Biddle Estate

In 1814, Nicholas Biddle acquired over 100 acres on the banks of the Delaware River, 13 miles north of Philadelphia. The property included an English Regency-style house built for Biddle’s father-in-law John Craig, who hired architect Benjamin Latrobe in 1806 to add rooms on the carriage entrance façade. Between 1834 and 1836, architect Thomas Ustick Walter added a Greek Revival-style temple front and portico to the riverside façade, one of the earliest examples of that architectural style in the U.S.

As a gentleman farmer and horticulturalist, Biddle built greenhouses and graperies – artificially-heated stone structures – alongside a vineyard, and planted peach, plum, nectarine, apricot, and cherry trees northwest and southeast of the house. Rare specimen trees and plants were added to the expanses of lawn surrounding the manor, including collections of delphiniums, peonies, roses, and irises. The Picturesque grounds also contain a temple-like Billiard House and a Gothic-style fieldstone grotto.

The landscape has evolved during more than two centuries of Biddle family ownership. The masonry walls of the graperies now enclose a formal holly and rose garden with gravel paths and wisteria arbors. A woodland walk leads to a clearing set with rustic furniture. In the 1960s, James Biddle designed the Green Walk, a collection of dwarf conifers and perennial beds with spring flowering trees and bulbs, and added a swimming pool with a pavilion edged with perennial beds. In 1980, Biddle created the Andalusia Foundation to preserve his ancestral home, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966.