The Francis Cope House serves as the administrative headquarters of the Awbury Arboretum Association. While the house does not currently function as a house-museum, visitors are welcome to tour the first floor hallway, parlors and interpretive room during business hours – Monday through Friday, 9AM – 10PM.
The history of the Francis Cope House began in 1852, when Henry Cope, a Philadelphia ship owner, bought forty acres of farmland in East Germantown near the home of his daughter and son-in-law, Mary Cope and John Smith Haines. At that time, Germantown — which was not yet part of the City of Philadelphia — was largely undeveloped and an ideal place for country living.
Henry built a summer home here in 1854 for himself and his wife Rachel, his two married sons Francis and Thomas and their families, and an unmarried daughter, Ruth Anna.
The estate was named Awbury, after the village of Avebury in Wiltshire, England, from which the Cope family had originally emigrated.
As the families grew, they began to build other houses on the estate. In 1861, Francis, Henry’s oldest son, and his wife, Anna, built their home and lived here permanently.
Francis Reeve Cope was born June 6,1821, and died November 6,1909. He married Anna Stewardson Brown December 16,1847. She was born February 7, 1822, and died January 4, 1916. Francis attended Haverford College (1835-1838), was Director of the Insurance Company of North America (1864) and the Lehigh Valley Railroad and a member of Germantown Monthly Meeting. He was an Overseer of the William Penn Charter School for 33 years and played an instrumental part in the school’s purchase of the Pinehurst tract in western Germantown in 1903, which led to the school’s move from downtown in 1925. Francis R. Cope also served on the Boards of Bryn Mawr College, Friends Asylum and Haverford College.
The Francis Cope house is built of Wissahickon schist from a quarry on the side of Washington Lane opposite the house. The house is large and elegant, but not ostentatious. Francis’ construction of the home reflects Quaker ideals of simplicity.