burholme park

A Jewel in Philadelphia: Burholme Park

Burholme Park, a picturesque expanse in the North East neighborhood of Philadelphia, is a true gem in the city’s crown. Not only is it a delightful green space, but it also carries a rich historical legacy entwined with the life and philanthropy of the Ryerss family.

The Generous Legacy of the Ryerss Family

The Ryerss family, a prominent name in Philadelphia, left a lasting legacy in the form of this park and the Robert W. Ryerss Museum and Library. The last scion of the family, Robert W. Ryerss, bequeathed his estate to his wife Mary Reed, under the condition that, upon her demise, the majority of his land and estate would be left for the “People of Philadelphia, forever.” This generous act has gifted the city with a remarkable museum, a public lending library, and a beautiful park.

The Ryerss Mansion

Ryerss Mansion

Built in 1859, the Ryerss mansion was initially intended to serve as a summer home for the family. The building project was spearheaded by Joseph Waln Ryerss, a prosperous importer of Asian goods and the president of the Tioga Railroad. His family, intermingled with the Waln family, were descendants of Nicholas Waln, a contemporary of William Penn. The Waln and Ryerss families were among the social elite of Philadelphia.

The Ryerss Family and Their Philanthropic Pursuits

The Ryerss family were known for their philanthropy and their early advocacy for animal rights. Anne Ryerss, Robert’s stepmother, was known for her compassion towards aged and sick work horses, which she would care for on the Burholme estate. Her will left a substantial sum for the care of “aged and infirmed” horses and for the establishment and maintenance of a hospital.

Robert W. Ryerss continued this tradition of caring for animals. He purchased an 80-acre farm in Bustleton, which later became the Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines, one of the first facilities in the United States dedicated to protecting horses and large animals. Today, this facility continues its operations in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

Robert’s commitment to animal welfare extended beyond his own initiatives. He played a key role in establishing the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals and the Anti-Vivisectionist Society of Pennsylvania.

The Ryerss Museum and Library

After Joseph W. Ryerss passed away in 1868, Robert W. Ryerss, an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, inherited the estate. Despite his legal education, Robert chose to live a life of leisure, thanks to the family’s wealth.

He spent his life traveling the world, collecting various objects for display at home, and fostering his love for reading. At the time of his death, his collection included 11,000 books. In his will, he stipulated these books should be used to establish a public library. This led to the creation of the Ryerss Public Library, one of the first public libraries in Philadelphia.

On May 14, 1910, Burholme Park and the Ryerss Museum and Library opened their doors to the people of Philadelphia. The park and the library stand today as a testament to the Ryerss family’s philanthropy and their commitment to the city.

The Park and Its Attractions

Burholme Park offers a range of recreational opportunities for visitors. Among these are three baseball diamonds, a football field, and three soccer fields. The park also includes a playground, making it a perfect spot for families.

During winter, the park’s large hill turns into a popular spot for sledding. Adjacent to the park are Jeanes Hospital and Fox Chase Cancer Center, as well as a mini-golf/driving range. The park’s lush greenery and wide-open spaces make it an ideal location for various outdoor activities.

The Woods at Burholme, a beautiful woodland area within the park, adds to the park’s charm. The woods, true to the park’s name which translates to “house in a woodland setting,” provide a serene backdrop for leisurely walks and picnics.

The Burholme Golf Center

Within the park’s bounds, the Burholme Golf Center offers another attraction for visitors. This family-friendly activity center includes mini-golf, a golf range, and arcade games, making it a hit among both children and adults.

Parks on Tap

Burholme Park has also played host to the popular Parks on Tap event. This traveling beer garden sets up shop at various parks around Philadelphia, offering a selection of craft beers, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, and fresh food. At Burholme Park, the beer garden was conveniently located right in front of the Ryerss Museum & Library.

Parking and Accessibility

For visitors planning a trip to Burholme Park, street parking is available around the park. Additionally, there’s an Impark parking lot located at 7600 Central Ave.

Burholme Park, with its historical significance, recreational offerings, and idyllic surroundings, is truly a treasure for the residents of Philadelphia. Whether you’re a history buff, a sports enthusiast, an animal lover, or just someone who enjoys a leisurely stroll in the park, Burholme Park has something for everyone.