Glen Foerd's History
Between 1850 and 1895, Glen Foerd, then called Glengarry, was owned by the Macalester family. The property was first developed as a country seat estate in this period. Charles Macalester was among the wealthiest men in Philadelphia when he retired from the most active period of his business life in 1849. He developed Glengarry as part of an elite enclave he created from a property of approximately 84 acres. He named the enclave Torresdale for his family’s Scottish homeland. After Macalester’s death in 1873, the property was owned and used by his daughter Eliza (called Lily), his only surviving child, until her death in 1891.
Beginning in 1895, the Glengarry property and three adjacent lots were purchased by Robert H. Foerderer, an industrialist from a German family whose leather works factory employed some 3,000 people in the nearby Frankford section of Philadelphia. Between his purchase of the property and his untimely death in 1903, Foerderer accomplished a significant campaign of renovation to the main house and grounds of the estate, which was renamed Glen Foerd. After his death, his widow Caroline continued to use and develop the estate. Between the late 1920s and late 1930s, Florence Foerderer Tonner, Caroline and Robert’s daughter, made a number of significant changes to and developments at the property, including the establishment of several new garden areas in the southwestern portion of the property.
Glen Foerd is a public park where people of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to enjoy a rich natural landscape, historic buildings and impressive art collection surrounded by a grand, intact 19th century estate. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Historic American Landscape Survey. Glen Foerd is the last Delaware River estate in Philadelphia open to the public. In addition to the Gilded Age mansion, other historic structures on the property include a boathouse, garden house, cottage, gatehouse, observation tower, and carriage house. The 30,000 square foot mansion includes an art gallery and rathskellar.