Secluded behind high Wissahickon schist walls and flags of the world is Clarke Hall, an architectural beauty, and its expansive grounds, an elegant and unique setting available for weddings, receptions, and special occasions.
Situated on 11 rolling acres in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, Clarke Hall, originally called Brookfield, was the home of Jay Cooke III. He was the grandson of Jay Cooke, the mid-nineteenth century money baron who helped finance the Union war effort during the Civil War and developed railroads in the northwestern United States.
Clarke Hall was designed and built by Wilson Eyre, a prominent architect who was the first president of the American Architectural Association. The building combines English, Italian, and early American rustic forms.
Large Dining Halls
A high-ceilinged entrance hall welcomes guests. To the right, is a wide marble staircase with a broad stone balustrade, pierced at intervals with large carved rosette circles. The stairs lead to a landing graced with ceiling-high mullioned windows, topped by a line of elegant frieze work.
Left of the entrance opens into the reception room with comfortable seating, dark beams along the ceiling, and a fireplace that flaunts two small pharaoh heads. Several steps lead down to the original sitting room, now the boardroom of The Institutes.
Beautiful Terraces and Gardens
Toward the lawns, a low stone wall is flanked by two huge, elaborately filigreed alabaster flower pots. On the right and left of the wall, twin flights of stone steps sweep down to a rectangular brick terrace. A black iron railing runs across the top of another stone wall towering above a wide green expanse below. Duplicating a symmetrical theme, at each end of the wall, a set of wide stone steps alternate its way down to the open lawn, where guests can stroll.
Ample areas are available for photography with various architectural elements of the buildings and grounds.
Open Terrace and Patio
From the terrace, a portico leads through Gothic arches to double French doors that open to the sitting room. The arches are supported by two half-columns melting into the wall at each end. Two plain, rounded pilasters stand in the center and span the patio from the dining room’s little balconies to the exterior wall of the boardroom.
Grand Banquet Space
This grand room includes a broad, tall fireplace, and long mullioned windows allow light to pour in at both ends of the room. Above, ornately carved ancient wooden frames extend across the lofty ceiling. A large oval dining table with its lace tablecloth is an elegant setting for serving guests.
Through leaded glass doors is the original conservatory, with a large, curved sofa, a quiet area where the wedding party or hosts can relax.