Awbury Rental – Frequently Asked Questions
What makes Awbury different from other rental venues?
● Awbury is a comfortable, welcoming space
●Our rental program supports our mission of preserving and interpreting our historic house and landscape and providing our urban community free access to nature and history 365 days a year.
● The Cope House, built in 1860, combines Quaker simplicity with Victorian elegance. Between the Wissahickon schist exterior, floor-to-ceiling windows, wrap-around porch, and surrounding 55-acres of historic English Landscape, we offer many unique and beautiful vistas for your celebration.
● The Cope House has seen several exciting renovations in the past few years, including the addition of a blue stone tented patio, installation of air conditioning and improved heating systems, and restored doors, windows, and floors throughout the house. We’ve also installed several garden areas- featuring native, historically local woodland plants, with year-round seasonal interest.
● We have a partnership with a wonderful, sustainable caterer – Birchtree Catering- who will help customize your perfect event.
When can I come see the venue?
We offer tours of the rental space by appointment during office hours (Monday-Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm, or Tuesday-Friday during the wintertime). Please contact the office to schedule an appointment – email@example.com or (215) 849-2855 x10.
How many people fit in the space?
The maximum for indoor-only events is 50 people; for events utilizing the outdoor space, we can accommodate up to 175 people.
How much does the venue cost?
Price depends on the season and size of the group. Please see our Rental Rates page.
What does the fee include?
Your rental includes the use of the foyer, three parlors, covered porch, bathrooms, audio system, and lawn and gardens near the house during event hours. (Click HERE to see our floor plan.)
Events with more than 20 people include one outdoor Parking Attendant. Rental price also includes a one-year membership to the Arboretum.
Note: Awbury’s tented bluestone patio is available, for an additional fee based on group size.
Are the grounds private during my event?
Awbury Arboretum is open to the public from dawn to dusk- it is a large part of our mission to be an accessible green space. We will, however, strive to keep the Cope House and immediate gardens and grounds private for your event.
What time can I hold my event?
Rentals are five hours long, and you may add time for an hourly fee. Your event may take place any time between 10:00 AM and 9:00 PM. Additional set up and clean up time is included in your rental package.
Concerning weekday evenings, including Fridays: The Awbury Arboretum offices are officially open until 5:00pm, but we can accommodate rentals that begin earlier than that. Please check with the staff about specific dates where times are of concern.
Concerning Saturdays: Awbury occasionally hosts community events (volunteer projects, horticultural workshops, health and wellness classes, etc.) on Saturday mornings. These are typically small gatherings and conclude by 2:00pm. Please check with the staff about specific dates where times are of concern.
Is there a ceremony-only option?
No, unfortunately we do not offer ceremony-only options.
Who caters my event?
Awbury Arboretum events are exclusively catered by Birchtree Catering, who shares our passion for great food, superb customer service, and fully customized experiences. You can expect personal walkthroughs, planning support, and day-of help from their wonderful team.
Why just one caterer? Here are a few reasons:
● We have gotten to know dozens of caterers over the past few years, and while many were excellent, we also saw clients struggle with caterers who didn’t care for their needs or neglected event details. We want your day to go smoothly! Birchtree not only provides truly excellent food but also a top-notch staff to welcome your guests and orchestrate details.
● We’re a preserved, historic house and garden. Our exclusive caterer has proven that they care about the site and know how to protect it.
● Awbury aims to be a sustainable venue. It’s easy for large events to create a lot of waste, but Birchtree is committed to a one trash bag policy and to composting responsibly. They also purchase local, sustainable food.
● With our new partnership, Birchtree is able to give Awbury clients special discounted rates!
May we serve alcohol?
Yes. All alcohol is client-provided and served by a Birchtree Catering certified bartender.
Do you provide an event coordinator?
Yes, Birchtree Catering provides a Day-Of Coordinator and a Facilities Host.
Are there restrictions on décor?
Due to the historic nature of the house, no nails, staples, tape, or tacks may be used when decorating. “Command Hooks” are allowed, provided they are removed cleanly. The following are also prohibited: open flame (with the exception of birthday candles on a cake), sparklers, rice, confetti, and flower petals- both real or fake. Glitter is also prohibited, including that on costumes, decorations, and party favors.
Please note the fireplaces aren’t operational.
Any decorations or event details that harm the landscape are prohibited.
Art pieces are not to be altered or removed, except by special permission.
Do you have heat and air conditioning?
Yes! Thanks to several generous grants, we now have both air conditioning and heat in the Cope House.
Is there a tent?
Yes! As of Spring 2018, Awbury will provide a seasonal tent from April through October.
Groups of fewer than 50 people can choose to include the tent or to not use that area.
Groups of 50 or more are required to include the tent.
Optional additional tent fee for groups of fewer than 50 people: $500
Required additional tent fee for groups of 50 – 100: $1,000
Required additional tent fee for groups of 100 – 175: $1,500
What about other rental items?
You may have rental furniture, china, linens, or other items delivered to the Cope House prior to your event, generally on Thursday or Friday. Similarly, rental items may be picked up after the event, generally on Monday or Tuesday.
Please coordinate with the Awbury staff about any scheduled deliveries or pick-ups; delivery crews must contact the Awbury staff before unloading any items. Items will be stored in the sheds until your event and must be returned to the shed before the end of your event. Awbury takes no liability for theft or damage of these items.
Starting in 2018, Awbury will own an inventory of chairs and tables which clients may choose to rent.
Does the Arboretum allow smoking?
Absolutely no smoking is allowed in the house or on the porch. If there are smokers in the group, renters must establish a smoking area away from the porch with proper disposal systems. Renters assume responsibility for clean-up of these areas.
How do we get to Awbury Arboretum?
The Arboretum is easily accessible by public transportation: the Washington Lane Station on SEPTA’s Chestnut Hill East Line is directly across from the Station Road entrance to Awbury. SEPTA bus routes 18 and 26 stop on Chew Avenue and the XH bus stops on Washington Lane.
If traveling by car, you will find the main entrance on Chew Avenue between Washington Lane and Haines Street.
Where will guests park?
The guest parking lot at the Francis Cope House accommodates about 15 cars. Overflow parking for another 20 or so cars can be made available along Station Road- a lovely 5-minute walk from the Cope House. Finally, ample free parking is available on the streets surrounding the Arboretum (Chew, Haines, and Ardleigh), a 5-10-minute walk from the Cope House.
Are buses or valet companies welcome?
Renters are welcome to hire a bus or valet service. If you choose this option, please notify the Awbury staff so they can coordinate with the vendor.
May we have amplified music?
We do allow amplified music. All bands and DJs should set up for dancing in the parlors, using Awbury’s professional-grade audio system. Background music may be amplified under the tent or in cocktail areas, but all music must be kept at an inoffensive level out of respect for our neighbors. All music must end by 9pm, and Awbury staff will control music volume.
We encourage all clients to work with our Preferred Vendors. You may work with work with a band or DJ from outside of our list for an additional fee of $500. DJs or bands from outside of our list will be required to visit the venue in advance and sign an agreement outlining our regulations. Similarly, any group not hiring a professional DJ or band but using our audio equipment will sign an audio agreement.
How do I reserve a date?
Once you have spoken with the Awbury staff and determined that a specific date is available, please submit:
● a venue deposit of $500, made out to Awbury Arboretum,
● a catering deposit of $2,000, made out to Birchtree Catering,
● and completed contract. You may “pencil in” details for which are not finalized, like numbers of guests. You may leave the fees for Chairs and Tables blank, to be calculated by the Awbury staff.
For a full list of our policies, please review our Event Rental Policies and Contract.