's extensive Fairmount Park lands stand a group of 18th and early 19th century historic houses, established during the period by prominent families of the city as "country seats" or rural retreats. Located in William Penn's suburban "Liberty Lands," which lie to the north and west of Philadelphia
, these houses were, for a gentleman-merchant, within an easy ride from the city's commercial center. The elevated, forested banks of the Schuylkill River, described by one 18th century observer as being "finely situated for prospect, health and pleasure," provided beautiful locations for the establishment of these early domestic retreats. Some functioned as working farms, including productive dairies, orchards, extensive fields and game lands, while others provided an elegant, fashionable and healthy retreat from Philadelphia's urban environment, summer heat and periodic epidemics.