Vernon Park

VernonPark_feature_BarrettDoherty_2015.jpg
Philadelphia, PA
United States
Vernon Park

Landscape Information

This eight-acre park on Germantown Avenue evolved from the eighteenth-century private gardens of Melchior Meng. An avid horticulturalist, Meng planted linden, magnolia, and other specimens north of his house. In 1804, the property was purchased by James Matthews, who, a year later, constructed a Federal-style house. James Wister acquired the property in 1812 and named it Vernon (likely a tribute to the Virginia home of George Washington), preserving and expanding Meng’s gardens and tree collection. In the late nineteenth century, nurseryman Thomas Meehan urged the City of Philadelphia to acquire the property for use as a public park. In 1895, the City purchased the land and, three years later, the Germantown Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia was relocated from its former location to the house in Vernon Park. In 1905, a section of the park was regraded to serve as the site for a new library, which was financed by the Carnegie Fund Committee and constructed in 1907, leaving the older house vacant.

Between 1913 and 1917, the park was redesigned by the architectural firm Bissell & Sinkler. Three monuments were introduced: a statue of John Wister, by Raffaelo Romanelli, dedicated in 1903; a stele designed by Frank Miles Day to commemorate the Battle of Germantown, dedicated in 1906; and Albert Jaegers’ Pastorious Monument in 1917. Landscape architect George Patton redesigned the park in 1962. In 2011, a rain garden was added and a 2015 renovation resulted in lighting, pathway, and playground upgrades. Today, the eastern side of the park is shaded by mature trees while the western section comprises an open lawn with athletic fields.