Thanks to our friend Tracy who turned 50 last week, we got to experience an enchanted autumn evening at a mansion in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park on Saturday night.  And because of the thoughtful event planning of her husband Woody, we got to turn the clock back, oh, 200 years or so, and pretend to be of the prosperous merchant class, enjoying a private soiree.

The mansion is called Lemon Hill, overlooking the Schuylkill River.  Woody, a history nut and antiques collector, used his connections in the vintage world to rent this space, bring in a tour guide, and make the place all our own for a few magical hours. 

Tracy thought she was coming to dinner at our house, and wondered why we’d insist on a casual 5:30 start time AND very dressy attire.  Instead we got into Tracy and Woody’s car which already contained another couple, Chris and Winnie, and off we were whisked to the surprise destination.

Tracy and Woody at Lemon Hill.

family2009 480

Inside, notice the curved door…

family2009 499

and come into the oval room.

family2009 482

Check out the view.

family2009 481

 And have a glass of wine.

family2009 497

We’ll be using plates that originally belonged to Woody’s grandmother, with water poured into  Tracy’s grandmother’s green goblets.

family2009 486

A wine connoisseur, Woody had purchased a bottle of 1959 Chateau Latour some years ago, saving it for just this occasion.  Luckily, ’59 turned out to be not only a very good year for babies, but indeed the BEST year of the 20th century for this particular wine. 

family2009 491

We received a condensed lesson in wine tasting from Woody, with all the tips on what to look for, sniff for, taste for.  The wine was truly sublime, although I feel that it was somewhat wasted on me.  Ordinarily, I’m quite happy with a bottle of “plonk” – pinot grigio, any brand will do.

The other Chris had done some internet research on each of the 3 bottles of wine.  I recognized the Rothschild name on one of the labels.  Most of what Chris read aloud went over my head, but Winnie and I could not stop giggling over the words  ”underbrush” and “pencil shavings.”

family2009 498

family2009 492

If I look blurry to you, perhaps you’ve had enough wine.

Architecturally, Lemon Hill is full of oval shapes, a theme repeated in our grapes and crackers. 

We ended with a fantastic chocolate-shelled creme brulee, courtesy of Trader Joe’s.  And that was the perfect way to celebrate the nice round number of 50.

family2009 500

We were honored to be part of this small group celebrating a big birthday.  Chris and I agreed this was one of the most special, memorable parties we’ve ever been to.  A reminder that thoughtfulness and creativity always trump flash and splash.

And a reiteration that quiet, old-fashioned elegance is a quality all too rare in our crazed, over-technological lives.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter