Reenacting history at Whitemarsh estate


Hope Lodge, the historic Whitemarsh estate that served as a surgical headquarters for the wounded during a pivotal part of the Continental Army’s Philadelphia Campaign, was at first a gift for a fiancé.

Philadelphia businessman Samuel Morris built the house for his British wife-to-be, but then things took a turn. In advance of his nuptials, according to the Pennsylvania Guide, Morris remarked that he’d “built the pen, now all I have to do is to go to England, get the sow, and start the litter.” Apparently, rumors of those words traveled across the Atlantic and “the sow” heard all about it.

Morris never married. But the house he built would go on to take an important place in history when George Washington and his troops, on retreat after the Battle of Germantown, traveled up Bethlehem Pike in 1777 and set up an encampment in what is now part of Fort Washington State Park and some private properties.

On Saturday, Nov. 4, visitors to Hope Lodge can experience a taste of what colonial life was like during the days of the nation’s infancy as part of the estate’s 42nd Annual Whitemarsh Encampment, a re-enactment that commemorates the historic weeks from November 2 to December 11 in 1777 when George Washington and the Continental Army encamped in the Whitemarsh Hills.

“Our mission is to educate the public on the house and local history,” said Kevin Horan, president of Friends of Hope Lodge. The encampment event “was started by one of the past presidents who was a re-enactor himself. So in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission,  who administers the property, they started the event.”

At least 300 people are expected to attend the colonial festival which will include tours of Hope Lodge, reenactments of skirmishes that show tactical demonstrations of Revolutionary War battles, along with demonstrations of open hearth cooking, beer brewing, and crafts such as basket weaving and candle making. Activities for youngsters include colonial storytime games and toys, and a children’s muster and drill when kids can march around like soldiers. A dulcimer player will supply the music and food trucks will be on the grounds.

“Our state Rep. Mary Jo Daley will speak on the importance of the second longest encampment of the Revolutionary War,” Horan said. “This is kind of a precursor to America’s 250th [birthday], which is in 2026. It’s a compelling story in local history.”

The 42nd Annual Encampment is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is rain or shine. General Admission: $10.00 for adults, $8.00 for seniors (age 65+) and children age 6-17. Children under 6 are free and Friends and members of Hope Lodge are free. For more information, visit