Gorgas Park is named for the Gorgas Family who settled in the area toward the end of the 17th Century. In 1759 Joseph Gorgas bought a half interest in land on the banks of the Wissahickon from his brother John, on which he built mills and a stone house replacing a log cabin monastery then on the site. In 1853, The Fairmount Park Commission bought the property, tore down the mills which were built and run by the family, but retained the homestead and the barn, which existed on the property.
Fifth generation Gorgas descendant, Samuel, named his brother Matthias as trustee of a fund set up to benefit their mother and sisters Margaret and Susan. These family members lived in the family home on Ridge Avenue between Gates and Hermitage Streets. The home was built in 1780 and was added on to in 1810 and again in 1892. Samuel later left money to his sister Susan and his niece Susan, the daughter of another brother John. The sixth generation Susan Gorgas, who lived in West Chester, inherited the family homestead and 80 acres of land from her aunt and uncle and grandfather in 1882. She gave 5 acres of land on the west side of Ridge Avenue, north of Hermitage Street, to the City of Philadelphia for a public park for the free use of the people of Philadelphia. Gorgas Park was dedicated in 1895 and was in active use for half a century. During this era it is known to have housed a circular fountain and a gazebo. In the later half of the 20th Century, its maintenance and constructive use fell into decline.
The Friends of Gorgas Park started to care for the park in the spring of 1996. A few residents decided to prune many of the park's overhanging trees and removed damaged ones within a six-month period of time. Today, the park is home to over 250 trees and award-winning gardens. Gorgas Park has been transformed in to the park you see today. Residents are able to enjoy a clean, safe park with their children, friends, and neighbors.
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