The Francis Cope House
The Cope House serves as the administrative headquarters of the Awbury Arboretum Association. Visitors are welcome to tour the first-floor hallway, parlors, and interpretive room during business hours. Offices are on the second and third floors. Please check our Hours & Admission page for more details.
History of Cope Family
Philadelphia shipowner Henry Cope 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.
Eventually, 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 family named the estate Awbury, after the village of Avebury in Wiltshire, England, from which they had originally emigrated.
As the families grew, they began to build other houses on the estate. Subsequently, in 1861, Francis, Henry’s oldest son, and his wife, Anna, built their home and settled here permanently.
Francis Cope’s life
Francis Reeve Cope was born on June 6, 1821. He attended Haverford College (1835-1838) and later married Anna Stewardson Brown (2/7/1822-1/4/1916) on December 16, 1847. Among several roles in the business world, he was Director of the Insurance Company of North America (1864), 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. This led to the school’s relocation from downtown to Germantown in 1925. Francis R. Cope also served on the Boards of Bryn Mawr College, Friends Asylum, and Haverford College. He died on November 6, 1909, and his heirs donated Awbury to the city in 1916.
Style of house
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, built in the Victorian style, but not ostentatious. The construction of the home reflects Quaker ideals of simplicity.