Graeme Park, the historic site in Horsham, is owned by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and operated by the non-profit group, The Friends of Graeme Park. It is the only surviving residence of a Colonial-era Pennsylvania governor. Graeme Park was constructed in 1722 by Sir William Keith as a summer residence and alternative to his governor’s mansion at Shippen House on Second and Spruce Streets in Philadelphia. The house, originally known as “Fountain Low”, has been largely unchanged since its construction except for a restoration by Dr. Thomas Graemein the mid 18th century and a minor restoration by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in the 1960s. Graeme Park at 859 County Line Road in Horsham is open to visitors on Friday and Saturday 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and on Sundays from noon until 4:00 p.m.
Graeme Park was originally called “Fountain Low” by Sir Keith. Fountain Low was built on 1,700 acres of land that Keith acquired as governor. He received the land for little or no cost as a debt payment given to the Provincial government of Pennsylvania by the estate of Samuel Carpenter who had died with a considerable debt owed to colony. Over 90 workmen worked to complete Fountain Low and its surrounding buildings. Sir Keith even got the Provincial government to extend two roads to his property in Horsham. Evidence points to the assumption that Keith rarely occupied Fountain Low. The interior of the mansion was not painted until Dr.Thomas Graeme took ownership in 1739. At that time, the estate was renamed “Graeme Park.”
Renovations began in 1755, when Dr. Graeme installed decorative devices that were common during the Georgian era, including paneling and refinished several of the interior doors. These changes remain today at Graeme Park. Dr. Graeme also commissioned the construction of an outdoor kitchen, laid out a formal garden and began a 300 acres Deer Park.
In 1778, Graeme Park was confiscated by the Continental Congress due to Henry Fergusson’s loyalist sympathies during the American Revolution. Henry married Elizabeth Graeme in 1772; he was found a traitor by the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania and Graeme Park was seized under the Confiscation Act of 1778. Shortly after, the home was returned to Elizabeth, where she lived in peace until 1801 as a patriot to the Revolution.
William Smith sold 200 acres of Graeme Park to Samuel Penrose of Richland Township including the original house, Keith Mansion, in April 1801. When Samuel died in 1863 ownership was transferred to his third son, Abel Penrose. Abel and his wife, Sarah Beisel, continued to preserve Graeme Park for future generations. They even began to invite visitors to take tours of the former Governor’s mansion. Morris Penrose was the fourth and final generation of the Penrose family at Graeme Park, beginning in 1893. He continued the tradition of hosting tours for school groups and historical societies. It was noted that 400 visitors walked to Graeme Park from the trolley stop on Easton Road in Horsham.
Morris Penrose sold 191 acres to Welsh Strawbridge on March 20, 1920. In order to ensure the preservation of this historic mansion, the Strawbridges donated the Keith House and the surrounding area to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 1958.
Since the death of Elizabeth Graeme Furgusson in 1801 it has been rumored by the citizens of Horsham, Pennsylvania that the Keith House and Graeme Park are haunted by her ghost. There are many stories from people who inhabited the house, visitors, volunteers and staff. The most common sightings are of Elizabeth walking by the pond, by the big tree, inside the house and on the balcony. Her presence has also been linked to the spontaneous smells of lilac in the house as well as the sound of a spinning wheel. Some sightings of Elizabeth have been said to consist of her sitting or walking with her husband Henry, perhaps making up for the time they did not spend together within actual life.