Laurel Hill Mansion: The Laurel Hill Mansion
7201 N Randolph Drive
In 1760, Francis Rawle purchased 31 acres in Fairmount Park. A year later, Francis Rawle was killed in a hunting accident, leaving behind his wife Rebecca, and their three young children. In 1767, Rebecca Rawle (a wealthy widow following her husband’s passing) remarried Samuel Shoemaker, a former Mayor of Philadelphia. Together they decided to build a summer home on the Fairmount Park property that her late husband had purchased and call it Laurel Hill. Laurel Hill, built in the Georgian style, was originally two stories high. A single story wing was added to the south side of the home in the late 1700s or early 1800s. A short time later, a two story octagonal wing was added to the north side of the mansion, giving it a very distinct, charming look.
Due to Samuel Shoemaker Loyalist background during the American Revolution, Laurel Hill mansion was seized and auctioned off by the state legislature. Rebecca objected to the seizure of her home and insisted that she did not share the same political views as her husband; however her objection went largely unnoticed. Laurel Hill was purchased by Major James Parr in 1782. This caused a tumultuous few years for Rebecca and her family. Shoemaker decided it was best for him to return to England in order to escape imprisonment, taking his son, and his step-son, William Rawle, along with him. Because Laurel Hill and the memories she made with her family meant so much to Rebecca, she spent the next two years trying to reclaim her home. In 1784, Rebecca was able to buy back Laurel Hill. In her summers at Laurel Hill, Rebecca made some money by selling strawberries, cabbages, and vegetables she grew on the property. Two years later, in 1786, her husband, son, and step-son returned to the USA.
Upon Rebecca’s in 1819 death her son, William Rawle, inherited Laurel Hill, where he continued the tradition of spending many summers with his family. William was a lawyer and a founder of the Philadelphia Bar Association. Eventually, the Rawle family ran into some money trouble. They leased the mansion to Dr. Philip Syng Physick in 1813. In 1828, Dr. Physick bought the property from the Rawle family. After his passing, he left the mansion to his daughter, Sally, and her husband. Sally was the la