The Woodlands, a country estate outside the city of Philadelphia, was famed in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries as a leading example of English taste in architecture and landscape gardening, and for the extensive collection of indigenous and exotic plants formed by William Hamilton. The property was later converted into a rural cemetery.
Alternate Names: William Hamilton House; The Woodlands Cemetery
Site Dates: 1766–ca.1898
Site Owner: Andrew Hamilton; Andrew Hamilton II; William Hamilton; James Hamilton; The Woodlands Cemetery Company
Site Designer(s): William Hamilton
Location: View on Google Maps
Situated on a bluff overlooking a bend in the Schuylkill River, the property that became known as The Woodlands offered scenic beauty and a convenient location in the countryside to the west of Philadelphia when Andrew Hamilton (1676?-1741), a prominent lawyer, purchased the first parcel of 250 acres in 1734. On Hamilton’s death, the property passed to his son, and six years later to his grandson, William Hamilton. With the intention of retiring to the countryside to pursue his interests in architecture, botany, and landscape design, Hamilton moved to The Woodlands from Bush Hill, his family’s more centrally located house on the outskirts of Philadelphia, in 1767, at the age of twenty-two. Around 1770 he erected a house that featured a grand, two-story riverside portico that connected the interior of the house with the landscape. Through the purchase of additional land, Hamilton had expanded The Woodlands to 600 acres by 1781. He erected a one-and-a-half-story greenhouse measuring 65 by 24 feet that provided a model for the greenhouse that David Hosack began building in 1803 at the Elgin Garden in New York (view text).
Hamilton’s plans for The Woodlands gained in ambition following his nineteen-month visit to England in 1784-85. Having expanded the acreage of the estate through additional land purchases, Hamilton carried out a major renovation and enlargement of his house, which doubled its original size--a project that occupied him from 1786 to 1789. The renovated house was neo-classical in style and designed in relation to the surrounding landscape, with dramatic axial sight lines providing dramatic vistas of the grounds, river, and outlying countryside. These connections were reinforced by a series of paths and drives leading from the house to the gardens, greenhouse, and a two-story stable, which he began around 1790. (view text Drayton) Hamilton carried out even more elaborate work on the grounds of The Woodlands. Although as early as 1779, he was planning to establish a “small park” on his property), his it was only after his return from England, where he had made a special study of contemporary English landscape design while touring a number of country estates, that he formed the explicit intention of creating a garden in the English, or natural style. Thomas Jefferson, who corresponded with Hamilton and In __ Hamilton hired the German botanist Frederick Pursh to oversee the garden at The Woodlands. Early in the nineteenth century, Hamilton added a second greenhouse, creating a structure measuring approximately 140 feet in all. On a visit in 1806, _- Drayton reported that the greenhouse contained “between 7 & 8000 plants” including “a cistern for tropic aquatic plants,” and that it was occasionally visited by ___, professor of botany at Philadelphia College, and his students (view text—Drayton). Thomas Jefferson frequently corresponded with Hamilton concerning their shared interest in horticulture and garden design. In 1809, Jefferson invited his friend to visit Monticello and see the improvements he was contemplating, noting, "You will have an opportunity of indulging on a new field some of the taste which has made The Woodlands the only rival which I have known in America to what may be seen in England" (view text).
Following Hamilton’s death in 1813, his heirs found the expense of maintaining The Woodlands difficult to sustain, and the property gradually fell into disrepair. The property was divided up and sold in 1828. The Philadelphia seedsman Henry Augustus (1818-1873) acquired The Woodlands in 1839 and based his nursery business there until 1850. The Woodlands Cemetery Company acquired a portion of the site in 1840 and began to transform the garden into a rural cemetery, with William Hamilton’s mansion serving as an office. The Woodlands (Revised Documentation) (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior. National Park Service), 8, view on Zotero.</ref> In the early 1840s the surveyor Philip M. Price, who had already contributed to a number of other rural cemetery projects, devised a plan for The Woodlands that combined aspects of both the geometric style and the natural style of landscape design. The cemetery was divided into sections bounded by winding roads, with each section designed individually. The Woodlands (Revised Documentation) (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior. National Park Service), 11-12, view on Zotero.</ref> The earliest sections to be developed were located in the inner core of the grounds, and laid out with alleys, diagonal paths, and curving walks to provide access to individual graves and family plots. The outer subdivisions of the cemetery were initially left as undeveloped green space. The Woodlands (Revised Documentation) (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior. National Park Service), 11, view on Zotero.</ref> Avenues named for trees (occasionally corresponding with those planted along their route) provided major access routes. Hamilton’s greenhouse was demolished in 1854 to make room for sheds for horses and carriages. The mansion and stable/carriage house are the only Hamilton-era buildings that remain at the site of The Woodlands).
- Parke, Thomas, April 27, 1785, letter from Philadelphia to Humphry Marshall (quoted in Harshberger 1929: 278)
- "W. Hamilton has sent a number of curious Flowering Shrubs & Forest Trees to be transplanted at his Seat on the Schuylkill."
- Hamilton, William, 30 September 1785, in a letter to his secretary, Benjamin Hays Smith (quoted in Madsen 1988: A3) 
- “Step also the Diameter of the circle or ring that encloses the Ice House Hill & tell me the space from one to the other side of the walk & of the Ha.Ha.”
- G., L., June 15, 1788, (Madsen 1988: B2) 
- “a little further on, you come to a charming spring, some part of the ground is hollowed out where Mr Hamilton is going to form a grotto, he has already collected some shells.”
- G., L., June 15, [1788?], (quoted in Madsen 1989: 19) 
- “[The walks were] planted on each side with the most beautiful & curious flowers & shrubs. They are in some parts enclosed with the Lombardy poplar except here & there openings are left to give you a view of some fine trees or beautiful prospect beyond, & in others, shaded by arbours of the wild grape, or clumps of large trees under which are placed seats where you may rest yourself & enjoy the cool air.”
- Hamilton, William, 1789, letter to his secretary, Benjamin Hays Smith (quoted in Madsen 1988: A4) 
- "In my Hurry at the time of coming off from Home I omitted to put in the ground the exotic Bulbous roots & as I gave no direction to Hilton respecting them they may suffer more especially as they were all taken out of the pots & left dry on the Back flue of the Hot House." [Fig. 5]
- Hamilton, William, September 1790, letter to his private secretary Benjamin Hays Smith(1905: 260)
- "In case you go to Brannan's I beg you to look particularly at his largest Gardenias & Arbutus so as to give an account of the size as well as the prices of them. I mentioned to you the Teucrium or Germander & I now recollect his having what he called a china rose. I have moreover a shrewd suspicion that Gray's single Arabian Jasmine came from Brannans although Brannan may not know it by that name. You will therefore find out what Jasmines he has & their prices & see whether he has any aloes, Geraniums, myrtles &c which I have not. Possibly he may have another plant of the African Heath which Gray got from him & other large d'ble myrtles as good as Gray's. You will also make the same enquiries of Spurry….
- "Brannan had a trefoil which he called a cinquefoil. I know not whether it has yet travelled to Grays. I take it to be the moon-trefoil? a very pretty shrub."
- Hamilton, William, November 22, 1790, letter from The Woodlands to Humphry Marshall (Darlington 1849: 577)
- "I was truly sorry that I did not see you when you were last at Philadelphia. I hope, the next time you come down, you will give me a call. If I can tempt you no other way, I promise to show you many plants that you have never yet seen, some of them curious."
- Hamilton, William, 1789 and 1790, in a letter to his secretary, Benjamin Hays Smith (quoted in Madsen 1988: A6, A7) 
- "[September 27, 1789] . . . The first moment after Hilton has finished weeding in the Garden as I directed he should set about weeding the terrace walk as I will endeavour to have it gravelld during the winter. . .
- "[October 12, 1789] . . . When the terrace is weeded, the two Borders leading from the House to the Ice House Hill should be cleaned. . .
- "[June 12, 1790] . . . The newly planted trees & shrubs along the terrace respecting which you know me to be so anxious, may be alive or dead for ought I know."
- La Rochefoucauld Liancourt, François-Alexandre-Frédéric, duc de, 1799 (quoted in Madsen 1988: B3) 
- “You pass the Schuylkill at Gray’s-Ferry, the road to which runs below Woodlands, the seat of Mr. William Hamilton: it stands high, and is seen upon an eminence from the opposite side of the river.” [Fig. 9]
- Hamilton, William, November 23, 1796, letter from The Woodlands to Humphry Marshall (Darlington 1849: 578)
- "I am much obliged to you for the seeds you were so good as to send me, of the Pavia, and of the Podophyllum or Jeffersonia.
- "When you were last here it was so late, and you were of course so much hurried, as to prevent your deriving any satisfaction in viewing my exotics. I hope when you come next to Philadelphia, that you will allot one whole day, at least, for the Woodlands. It will not only give me real pleasure to have your company, but I am persuaded it will afford some amusement to yourself.
- "Your nephew [Moses Marshall] did me the favour of calling, the other day; but he, too, was in a hurry, and had little opportunity of satisfying his curiosity. I flatter myself, however, that during his short stay he saw enough to induce him to repeat his visit. The sooner this happens, the more agreeable it will be to me.
- "When I was at your house, a year ago, I observed several matters in the gardening way, different from any in my possession. Being desirous to make my collection as general as possible, I beg to know if you have, by layers, or any other mode, sufficiently increased any of the following kinds so as to be able, with convenience, to spare a plant of each of them, viz.: — Ledum palustre, Carolina Rhamnus, Azalea coccinea, Mimosa Intsia, and Laurus Borbonia. Any of them would be agreeable to me; as also would be a plant, or seeds Hippophae Canadensis, Aralia hispida, Spiraea nova from the western country; Tussilago Petasites, Polymnia tetragonotheca, Hydrophyllum Canadense, H. Virginicum, Polygala Senega, P. biflora, Napoea scabra dioica, Talinum, a nondescript Sedum from the west, somewhat like the Telephium, two kinds of a genus supposed, by Dr. MARSHALL, to be between Uvularia and Convallaria [probably the Streptopus, of MICHAUX, which the MARSHALLS proposed to call Bartonia], and Rubia Tinctorum. I should also be obliged to you for a few seeds of your Calycanthus, Spigelia Marilandica, Tormentil from Italy, and two of your Oaks with ovate entire leaves."
- Hamilton, William, May 3, 1799, letter from The Woodlands to Humphry Marshall (Darlington 1849: 579-80)
- "I have not until this time been able to comply with my promise of sending you a Tea Tree.
- "I now take the opportunity of forwarding you... a very healthy one, as well as several of other kinds, which I believe are not already in your collection; together with a small parcel of seeds....
- "Should anything else, in my possession, occur to you as a desirable addition to the variety in your garden, I beg you will inform me. You may be assured, whatever it is, if I have two of the kind, you will be welcome to one. Sensible as I am of your kindness and friendship to me, on all occasions, you have a right, and may freely command every service in my power.
- "Doctor Parke informs me you were lately in Philadelphia. Had it been convenient to you to call at the Woodlands, I should have had great pleasure in seeing you. I have not heard of Dr. MARSHALL'S having been in this neighbourhood since I was last Bradford. From the pressing invitation I gave him, I am willing to hope that, in case of his coming to town, he will not forget to give me a call. I beg you will present him with my best respects, and request of him to give me a line of information, as to the Menziesia ferruginea, particularly of its vulgar name, if it has one, where it grows, if he knows the name of any person in its neighbourhood, who is acquainted with it, so, as to direct or show it to any one who may go to look after it.
- "I intend, next month, to go to Lancaster; and if convenient to me, when there, to spare my George, I have thoughts of sending him to Redstone, for the Menziesia, and Podophyllum diphiyllum. If Dr. MARSHALL knows of any curious and uncommon plants, growing in the neighbourhood with those I have mentioned, I will be obliged to him to give me any intelligence by which he may suppose they can be found: or, if he knows any person or persons at Redstone, or Fort Pitt, who are curious in plants, of whom any questions on the subject may be asked, he cannot do me a greater service than by giving me their names and place of abode.
- "I do not know how your garden may have fared during this truly long and severe winter, which has occasioned the loss of several valuable ones in mine; amongst which are the Wise Briar [probably Schrankia uncinata, Willd.; Mimosa Intsia, Walt.] and Hibiscus speciosus, which I got from you. The plants, also, of Podophyllum diphyllum, which I raised last year, from seeds I received from your kindness, have, I fear, been all destroyed. They have not shown themselves above ground this spring. A tree, too (the only one I had of Juglans Pacane, or Illinois Hickory), which I raised twenty-five years ago from seed, is entirely killed.
- "In case you have seeds of the kinds named in the list hereto adjoined, I will thank you exceedingly for a few. Any of them which you have not, at present, I beg you will oblige me with them in the ensuing fall. I am very desirous to know if your Iva, or Hog's Fennel, from Carolina, produces seeds. In that case, I must entreat you for a few of them.
- "You will permit me, also, to remind you of your promise to spare me a plant or two of the White Persimmon, one of Azalea coccinea, and of the sour Calycanthus. If convenient to let me have a plant or two of your Stuartia Malachodendron, and of Magnolia acuminata, you will do me a great favour.
- "Anything left for me at the toll-gate, on the middle ferry wharf to the care of Mr. TRUEMAN, who constantly attends there, will reach me the same day that it arrives there....
- "I am very desirous to compare a flower of your Stuartia with J. Bartram's; and will be obliged to you for a good specimen.
- Hosack, David, July 25, 1803, letter to Dr. Thomas Parke, regarding the greenhouses at the Elgin Botanic Garden and The Woodlands, (Long 1991: 144)back up to history
- "I duly received the plans of Mr. Hamiltons green and hot houses. My greenhouse [exclusive of the hothouses] is now finishing— it will not differ very individually from Mr. Hamiltons. It is 62 feet long 23 deep—and 20 high in the clear.... I shall heat it by flues, they will run under the stays so they will not be seen— my walks will be spacious... hot houses are for next summer's operation. My collection of plants is yet small. I have written to my friends in Europe and in the East and West Indies for their plants. I will also collect the native productions of North and South America. What medical plants can Mr. Bartram supply— request him to send me a catalogue.... I hope William Hamilton will have duplicates of rare and valuable plants — I will supply him anything I possess."
- Cutler, Rev. Manasseh, January 2, 1802, describing The Woodlands, seat of William Hamilton, near Philadelphia, Pa. (1987: 2:145)
- "We then walked over the pleasure grounds in front and a little back of the house. It is formed into walks, in every direction, with borders of flowering shrubs and trees. Between are lawns of green grass, frequently mowed to make them convenient for walking, and at different distances numerous copse of native trees, interspersed with artificial groves, which are set with trees collected from all parts of the world." [Fig. 3]
- Cutler, Rev. Manasseh, November 22, 1803, describing The Woodlands, seat of William Hamilton, near Philadelphia, Pa. (1888: 2:145) 
- "We then took a turn in the gardens and the green-houses. In the gardens, though ornamented with almost all the flowers and vegetables the earth affords, I was not able to walk long. The green-houses, which occupy a prodigious space of ground, I can not pretend to describe. Every part was crowded with trees and plants from the hot climates, and such as I had never seen, all the spices, the tea-plant in full perfection; in short, he assured us there was not a rare plant in Europe, Asia, or Africa, many from China and the islands in the South Seas, none, of which he had obtained any account, which he had not procured."
- "Near the point of land a superb but ancient house built of stone is situated. In the front, which commands an extensive and most enchanting prospect, is a piazza, supported on large pillars, and furnished with chairs and sofas, like an elegant room."
- "I remember seeing in your greenhouse a plant of a couple of feet height in a pot the fragrance of which (from it's gummy bud if I recollect rightly) was peculiarly agreeable to me and you were so kind as to remark that it required only a greenhouse, and that you would furnish me one when I should be in a situation to preserve it. but it's name has entirely escaped me & I cannot suppose you can recollect or conjecture in your vast collection what particular plant this might be. I must acquiese therefore in a privation which my own defect of memory has produced, unless indeed I could some of these days make an impromptu visit to Phila. & recognise it myself at the Woodlands....
- "Should a journey at any time promise improvement to it [Hamilton's health], there is no one on which you would be received with more pleasure than at Monticello. Should I be there you will have an opportunity of indulging on a new field some of the taste which has made the Woodlands the only rival which I have known in America to what may be seen in England.
- "Thither without doubt we are to go for models in this art. Their sunless climate has permitted them to adopt what is certainly a beauty of the very first order in landscape. Their canvas is of open ground, variegated with clumps of trees distributed with taste. They need no more of wood than will serve to embrace a lawn or a glade. But under the beaming, constant and almost vertical sun of Virginia, shade is our Elysium. In the absence of this no beauty of the eye can be enjoyed. This organ must yield it's gratification to that of the other senses; without the hope of any equivalent to the beauty relinquished. The only substitute I have been able to imagine is this. Let your ground be covered with trees of the loftiest stature. Trim up their bodies as high as the constitution & form of the tree will bear, but so as that their tops shall still unite & yeild dense shade. A wood, so open below, will have nearly the appearance of open grounds. Then, when in the open ground you would plant a clump of trees, place a thicket of shrubs presenting a hemisphere the crown of which shall distinctly show itself under the branches of the trees. This may be effected by a due selection & arrangement of the shrubs, & will I think offer a group not much inferior to that of trees. The thickets may be varied too by making some of them of evergreens altogether, our red cedar made to grow in a bush, evergreen privet, pyrocanthus, Kalmia, Scotch broom. Holly would be elegant but it does not grow in my part of the country....
- "You will be sensible by this time of the truth of my information that my views are turned so steadfastly homeward that the subject runs away with me whenever I get on it. I sat down to thank you for kindnesses received, & to bespeak permission to ask further contributions from your collection & I have written you a treatise on gardening generally, in which art lessons would come with more justice from you to me."
- Drayton, Charles, 2 November 1806, describing The Woodlands (Charles Drayton, unpublished Diaries, 1784–1820, National Trust for Historic Preservation, pp. 52-62)
- “The Approach, its road, woods, lawn & clumps, are laid out with much taste & ingenuity. Also the location of the Stables: with a Yard between the house, stables, lawns of approach or park, & the pleasure ground or garden. The Fences seperating [sic] the Park-lawn from the Garden on one hand, & the office yard on the other, are 4 ft. 6 high. The park lawn is not in good order for lack of being fed upon. Its fences where it is not visible from the house, is of common posts & rails.
- "The Garden consists of a large verdant lawn surrounded by a belt or walk, & shrubbery for some distance. the outer side of the walk is adorned here & there, by scattered forest trees, thick & thin. It is bounded, partly as is described — partly by the Schuylkill & a creek exhibiting a Mill & where it is scarcely noticed, by a common post and rail. The walk is said to be a mile long — perhaps it is something less. one is led in to the garden from the portico, to the est and lefthand. or from the park, by a small gate] contiguouis to the house, traversing this walk, one sees many beauties of the landscape — also a fine statue.... & a Spacious Conservatory about 200 yards to the west of the Mansion.
- "The Hot houses, they may extend in front I suppose 40 feet each. they have a wall heated by flues — & 3 glazed walls & a glazed roof each. in the center, a frame of wood is raised about 2 1/2 feet high, & occupying the whole area except leaving a passage along by the walls. In the flue wall or adjoining, is a cistern for tropic aquatic plants. within the frame, is composed a hot bed; into which the pots & tubs with plants are plunged. This Conservatory is said to be equal to any in Europe. It contains between 7 & 8000 plants. To this the Professor of botany is permitted to resort, with his Pupils occasionally. As the position of many plants require external exposure in the Summer Season that also is contrived with much ingenuity & beauty. there are 2 large oval grass plats in front of the Conservatory & 2 behind. holes are nicely made in these, to receive the pots & tubs with their plants, even to their rims. the tallest are placed in the centre, & decreasing to the verge. thus they represent a miniature hill clothed with choice vegetation.
- "The Stable Yard, tho contiguous to the house, is perfectly concealed from it. the Lawn, & the Garden. The mode of concealment from the 2 latter, has been mentioned under article Fences separating the Park-lawn from the garden on one hand, & the office yard on the other, are 4 ft. 6 high. The former made with posts & lathes— the latter with posts, rails & boards. They are concealed with evergreens hedge—of juniper I think....
- "At, or contiguous to the side of the house near to the front angle is a piece of [illegible] masonry which...covers or screens the entrance to the Cellar.... From the Cellar one enters under the bow window & into this Screen which is about 6 or 7 feet square through these, we enter a narrow area & ascend some few Steps into the garden— & thro the other opening we ascend a paved winding slope, which spreads as it ascends, into the yard. This sloping passage being a segment of a circle, 7 its two outer walls concealed by loose hedges & by this projection of the flat roofed Screen of masonry, keeps the yard, & I believe the whole passage out of sight from the house — but certainly from the garden & park lawn....
- "The Stables & sheds, form the 3rd side of this three sided yard — The stables are seen from the front door of the house, over the hedge that screens the Yard. The kitchen garden & Hort. yard, Orchard, which I did not see, are, I suppose behind the Stables, & adjacent."
- “In the meantime, the plants of which he [Governor Lewis] brought seeds, have been very successfully raised in the botanical garden of Mr. Hamilton of the Woodlands, and by Mr. McMahon, a gardener of Philadelphia.”
- Birch, William, 1808, The Country Seats of the United States of North America (1808: unpaginated)
- "This noble demesne has long been the pride of Pennsylvania. The beauties of nature and the rarities of art, not more than the hospitality of the owner, attract to it many visitors. It is charmingly situated on the winding Schuylkill and commands one of the most superb water scenes that can be imagined. The ground is laid out in good taste. There are a Hot house and green house containing a collection in the horticultural department, unequalled perhaps in the Unites States. Paintings & c. of the first master embellish teh interior of the house and do credit to Mr. Wm. Hamilton, as a man of refined taste."
- Martin, William Dickinson, May 20, 1809 (CWF)
- “Altho’ much has been done to beautify this delightful seat, much still remains to be done, for the perfecting it in all the capabilities which nature in her boundless profusion has bestowed.”
- Martin, William Dickinson, 20 May 1809 (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)
- “If thus far the eye has been pleased from viewing these fine productions of art, how much more will it be gratified when contemplating the prospect that bursts upon the sight from the Centre of the Saloon! The verdant meadow, the spacious lawn, Schuylkill’s lucid stream, the floating bridge, the waves here checked by the projecting rock, then overshadowed by inclining trees, until, by meandering in luxuriant folds, the winding waters lead the entranced eye to Delaware’s proud river, on whose swollen bosom rich merchant ships are seen. . . . Such are in part, the beauties of this delightful scenery, & had the view terminated with highlands or some o’er-towering mountain, no prospect could have been more perfect.”
- Oldschool, Oliver, 1809, "American Scenery— for the Portfolio. The Woodlands," (pp. 504-07)
- "The grounds, which occupy an extent of nearly ten acres, are laid out with uncommon taste; and in the construction of the edifice solidity and elegance are combined....
- "If thus far the eye has bee pleased from viewing these fine productions of art, how much more will it be gratified when contemplating the prospect that bursts upon the sight from the centre of this saloon! The verdant mead, the spacious lawn, Schuylkill's lucid stream, the floating bridge, the waves here checked by the projecting rock, there overshadowed by the inclining trees, until be meandering in luxuriant folds, the winding waters lead the entranced eye to Delaware's proud river, on whose swelled bosum rich merchant ships are seen descending fraught with the vast surplus of our fertile soil, or others mounting heavily the stream, deep laden with the wealth of foreign climes.
- "Such are, in part, the beauties of this delightful scenery, and had the view terminated with high lands, or some o'ertowering mountain, no prospect could have been more perfect.
- "The attention is next excited by the grounds, in the arrangement of which the hand of Taste is every where discerned. Foreign trees from China, Italy, and Turkey, chosen for their rich foliage, or balmy odours, are diffusely scattered, or mingled with sweet shrubs and plants, bordering the walks; and as the fragrant path winds would, openings judiciously exposed, such as the situation of the lands and rivers best admits, diversify the scene. At one spot the city, with its lofty spire, appears; at another, a vast expanse of water; at a third, verdure and water, happily blending to form a complete landscape; and again another, where the champaign country is broken with inequality of ground. Now, at the descent, is seen a creek, o'erhung with rocky fragments, and shaded by the forest's gloom. Ascending thence, towards the western side of the mansion, the green-house presents itself to view, and displays to the observer a scene, than which nothing that has preceded it can excite more admiration. The front, including the hot-house on each side, measures one hundred and forty feet, and it contains nearly ten thousand plants, out of which number may be reckoned between five and six thousand of different species, procured at much trouble and expense, from many remote parts of the globe, from South America, the Cape of Good Hope, the Brazils, Botany Bay, Japan, the East and West Indies, &c., &c. This collection, for the beauty and rich variety of its exotics, surpasses any thing of the kind on this continent: and, among many other rare productions to be seen, are the breadfruit tree, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, mangoes, different sorts, sago, coffee from Bengal, Arabia, and the West-Indies, tea green and bohea, mahogany, magnolias, Japan rose, rose apples, cherimolia, one of the most esteemed fruits of Mexico, bamboo, Indian god tree, from tree of China, ginger, olea fragrans, and several varieties of the sugar cane, five species of which are from Otaheite. To this green-house, so richly stored, too much praise can hardly be given. The curious person views it with delight, and the naturalist quits it with regret.
- "To the honour of the tasteful proprietor of this place it must be observed, that to him we are indebted for having first brought into this country the Lombardy poplar, now so usefully to our cities, as well as to many of our villas. To him we likewise owe the introduction of various other foreign trees which now adorn our grounds, such as the sycamore, the witch elm, the Tartarian maple, &c. Although much is done to beautify this delightful seat, much still remains to be done, for the perfecting it in all the capabilities which Nature, in her boundless profusion, has bestowed. These improvements, it is said, fill up the leisure, and form the most agreeable occupation of its possessor; and that he may long live to pursue this refined pleasure, must be the wish of the public at large, for to them so much liberality has ever been shown in the free access to the house and grounds."
- "Woodlands, the seat of the Hamilton family, near Philadelphia, was, so long ago as 1805, highly celebrated for its gardening beauties. The refined taste and the wealth of its accomplished owner, were freely lavished in its improvement and embellishment; and at a time when the introduction of rare exotics was attended with a vast deal of risk and trouble, the extensive green-houses and orangeries of this seat, contained all the richest treasures of the exotic flora, and among other excellent gardeners employed, was the distinguished botanist [Frederick] Pursh, whose enthusiastic taste in his favorite science was promoted and aided by Mr. [William] Hamilton. The extensive pleasure grounds were judiciously planted, singly and in groups, with a great variety of the finest species of trees. The attention of the visitor to this place is now arrested by two very large specimens of that curious tree, the Japanese Ginkgo (Salisburia), 60 to 70 feet high, perhaps the finest in Europe or America, by the noble magnolias, and the rich park-like appearance of some of the plantations of the finest native and foreign oaks. From the recent unhealthiness of this portion of the Schuylkill, Woodlands has fallen into decay, but there can be no question that it was, for a long time, the most tasteful and beautiful residence in America….
- “This [Waltham House, near Boston], and Woodlands, were the two best specimens of the modern style, as |Judge [Richard] Peters’ seat, Lemon Hill, and Clermont, were of the ancient style, in the earliest period of Landscape Gardening among us.”
James Peller Malcolm, The Woodlands From the Bridge at Gray's Ferry, c. 1792, in Beth C. Wees and Medill H. Harvey, Early American Silver in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2013), p. 259.
William Russell Birch, "Woodlands, the Seat of Mr. Wm. Hamilton, Pennsylva.," 1808, in William Russell Birch and Emily Cooperman, The Country Seats of the United States (2009), p. 69, pl. 14.
- James A. Jacobs, "William Hamilton and the Woodlands: A Construction of Refinement in Philadelphia," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 130 (2006): 184-87, view on Zotero.
- For the date and construction of the original house, see James A. Jacobs, "William Hamilton and the Woodlands: A Construction of Refinement in Philadelphia," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 130 (2006): 189-93, view on Zotero; The Woodlands (Revised Documentation), 17, view on Zotero.
- Fry, 2004, 57; The Woodlands (Revised Documentation), 13, view on Zotero.
- James A. Jacobs, "William Hamilton and the Woodlands: A Construction of Refinement in Philadelphia," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 130 (2006): 196-97, view on Zotero.
- The Woodlands (Revised Documentation), 5-8, view on Zotero.
- The Woodlands (Revised Documentation), 11, view on Zotero.
- Clayton McMichael, ed., Philadelphia and Popular Philadelphians (Philadelphia: The North American, 1891), 213, view on Zotero.
- The Woodlands (Revised Documentation) (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior. National Park Service), 9-10, 13, view on Zotero.
- John W. Harshberger, "Additional Letters of Humphry Marshall, Botanist and Nurseryman," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 53 (1929), view on Zotero.
- Madsen, Karen. 1988. “William Hamilton’s Woodlands.” Paper presented for seminar in American Landscape, 1790–1900, instructed by E. McPeck. Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. view on Zotero
- Karen Madsen, "William Hamilton’s Woodlands" (Paper presented for seminar in American Landscape, 1790-1900, instructed by E. McPeck. Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, 1988), view on Zotero.
- Karen Madsen, "To Make His Country Smile: William Hamilton’s Woodlands," Arnoldia, 49 (1989), 14–23, view on Zotero.
- Karen Madsen, ‘William Hamilton’s Woodlands’, 1988, view on Zotero.
- Hamilton and Smith, 1905, 260.
- William Darlington, Memorials of John Bartram and Humphry Marshall: With Notices of Their Botanical Contemporaries (Philadelphia: Lindsay & Blakiston, 1849), view on Zotero.
- Karen Madsen, “William Hamilton’s Woodlands.” Paper presented for seminar in American Landscape, 1790–1900, instructed by E. McPeck. Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. 1988.view on Zotero.
- Karen Madsen, "William Hamilton’s Woodlands," (Paper presented for seminar in American Landscape, 1790-1900, instructed by E. McPeck. Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, 1988), view on Zotero.
- Ms. letter in Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection, Boston Public Library, quoted in Timothy Preston Long, "The Woodlands: A 'Matchless Place’" (unpublished Master of Science thesis, University of Pennsylvania, 1991), view on Zotero and Robbins, 1964, 65, view on Zotero.
- William Parker Cutler, Life, Journals, and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler, LL. D (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1987), view on Zotero
- Masnasseh Cutler, Life, Journals and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler, L.L.D., ed. by William Parker Cutler and Julia Perkin Cutler, 2 vols. (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co, 1888), view on Zotero
- Manasseh Cutler, Life, Journals and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler, L.L.D., ed. William Parker Cutler and Julia Perkin Cutler, 2 vols. (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1888), 2:, view on Zotero.
- Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-4111 [last update: 2015-12-30]).
- Thomas Jefferson, The Garden Book, ed. Edwin M. Betts (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1944), view on Zotero.
- William Birch,
- Oliver Oldschool, "American Scenery— for the Portfolio. The Woodlands," Port Folio, n.s. 2 (1809) view on Zotero.
- Andrew Jackson Downing, A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, Adapted to North America, 2nd edn (New York and London: Wiley and Putnam, 1844), view on Zotero.