PHILADELPHIA PA – A Philadelphia landmark that has long attracted lovers of both roses and 19th century architecture became a crime scene Thursday (June 29, 2023). The location is historic Wyck at 6026 Germantown Ave.
Its house, garden, and farm earlier served as home to nine generations of the same family. Its design was updated in 1824 by famed Philadelphia architect William Strickland. Now police say, and the non-profit Wyck Association staff confirms, that one of the property’s rose bushes is missing.
It’s not just any rose bush, but a Tausendschon rose that has survived and thrived for 110 years. Philadelphia TV station WPVI (6ABC) on Wednesday (July 5) reported clues examined by staff members and law enforcement suggest the rose was taken because of its age. Younger plants can be bought online for about $40.
“Stolen” may be a misnomer; TV footage shows the climbing plant was brutally cut away from its trellis. The thief or thieves involved likely will try to propagate the plant and grow it for re-sale, Wyck’s executive director told 6ABC Reporter Beccah Hendrickson. An investigation into the theft is continuing.
A place where roses took deep root
Wyck is all about roses.
From a historical perspective, its website notes, the property encompasses the nation’s oldest rose garden in its original plan. Jane Bowne Haines, the wife of then household owner and Philadelphia businessman Reuben Haines III, transformed its once utilitarian garden into a rose showplace now containing more than 50 different varieties.
Its gardens in part influenced Strickland’s redesign of the home’s first floor, the Wyck website explains. He created an open floor plan with windows added to flood its rooms with light. They also served to bring views of the continually blooming flowers within sight of the occupants inside.
Once finished, Strickland produced the kind of “Greek Revival country villa” its wealthy owners eagerly sought.
The entire property of more than two acres is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and also as a National Historic Landmark. The last private owners of the home were Haines’ family descendants Mary and Robert Haines, who also owned fruit orchards in Hereford Township, Berks County. Wyck documents show that Robert Haines “patented a device to press apples for a more natural-tasting juice.”
Things to know if you go
The Wyck property is a 43-minute drive, covering 38 miles, from Pottstown. It can be reached by car using U.S. Route 422 and Interstate 76. Free parking is usually available along nearby streets in the Germantown neighborhood.
The grounds and garden, according to its website, are currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Walk-in house tours are available Thursday through Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.
The association annually hosts a free and open-to-the-public “Celebration of the Roses.” This year’s event was held May 27; its May 25, 2019, edition, only months after the start of the COVID outbreak, is what attracted “Travels With The Post” to Wyck.
It also conducts other special programs throughout the year:
- Three carillon recitals are scheduled for July 17, 24, and 31;
- An installment of its “Home Farm Foodways” series is next scheduled for Aug. 12; and
- Its annual Philadelphia Honey Festival is planned for Sept. 16.
Photos by Travels With The Post