This is the view of the Delaware River from the back porch.
The mansion was built by Charles Macalester circa 1850. In 1893, Robert and Caroline Foerderer bought the mansion and had it renovated. It remained in the family until 1988, and is now run by the Glen Foerd Conservation Corporation and the Fairmount Park Commission.
How Robert & Caroline Foerderer came to own this mansion is a true love story. When they were teenagers they canoed down the Delaware River. They saw a dog on the bank (the very bank that you see in this photo) and pulled up the canoe to investigate. Once they climbed up the bank, the mansion rose before them, and Robert promised Caroline that one day it would be theirs. He started a company, got rich, and sure enough, he bought that mansion for Caroline in 1893!
Scroll down to see some of the incredible finds in the house; including a bottle of riesling from the 1800s...
The wrap-around porch is supported by columns.
This is a shot of the back porch (and husband). Today the mansion is owned by a foundation, but the previous owner collected most of the plants from around the world.
A magnificent staircase occupies the center of the house.
Glass and iron ceilings function as natural skylights.
An organ sits at the top of the staircase-- the pipes line the walls of the adjacent room.
And a whole room is devoted to this grand piano.
A collection of old decanters catch the sun.
I found this cute little Cupid in a room dedicated to sculptures and artwork.
Urns, figurines, paintings by famous artists, hand-carved chairs....
I'm pretty sure that this is from the Rheinhessen (though the wine company was based in the Nahe):
1893 Niersteiner Oelberg
Anheuser & Fehrs Creuznach
*bolded letters are obvious letters from the label, unbolded letters I've filled in based on educated guessing. If anyone has a better guess, please leave it in the comments section!
There isn't much information out there about this wine, but I did find this pamphlet from 1904. The pamphlet is from a "German Wine & Food Exhibition" in St. Louis. Scroll down to page 135 to see the lists of wine. The first wine producer listed is Anheuser & Fehrs Creuznach. The pamphlet reads:
Anheuser & Fehrs, Creuznach (Nahe). Established 1869, Rhine-, Nahe-, Palatinate-, Moselle- and Saar-Wines in bottles and casks. Exportation to all parts of the world. Proprietors of large and valuable vineyards. Owners of the registered brand: „Creuz- nacher Steinberg Riesling, own growth". Highest awards at all expositions: Coblenz 1879, Crefeld 1880, Creuznach 1881, Wetzlar 1882, Wesel 1885, London (German Exhibition) 1891, Chicago (World's Exhibition) 1893, Paris (World's Exhibition) 1900. Sole Agency for the United States: New-York & Kentucky Co., 232, Fifth Avenue, New-York.
Anheuser & Fehrs Creuznach appears to have been a very large company with vineyards in several wine regions.
The pamphlet mentions that Anheuser & Fehrs Creuznach won "highest awards" in 1893 at the World's Exhibition in Chicago, and won more awards in 1900 at the World's Exhibition in Paris. Perhaps the owners of the Glen Foerd Mansion came into contact with these wines at one of those Exhibitions and brought this bottle back to Philadelphia.
I only recognized a few of the other producers represented in the 1904 pamphlet, including Egon Muller (pg 151) and Vanvolxem (pg 158- though not sure if this is the same Van Volxem of today). I also noticed some riesling listed from Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg (pg 153). On page 154 there is an interesting reference to Roederer, which lists them as "original growths of Champagne and Lorraine."
Why would Robert and Caroline Foerderer have been interested in drinking this bottle of German riesling? And, as they didn't save other empty bottles, why was this one so special to have been on display in their home?
I can take a guess: In 1893, Robert fulfilled his promise to Caroline and bought her the mansion they had canoed past as teenagers. I'm guessing that on a special anniversary (maybe at the renovation groundbreaking? maybe on a wedding anniversary?) they drank this 1893 riesling to celebrate the year their childhood dream came true.
Anonymous Pamphlet. (1904) German Food and Wine Exhibition - St. Louis 1904.