Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

The Belmont Mansion: An Integral Component of the Underground Railroad

March 1, 2017

Built more than 360 years ago, the Belmont Mansion is the oldest example of Palladian architecture—inspired by the great Greek and Roman temples—in the United States, at least of this size. But that’s not really what makes this place so special. As part of the Underground Railroad, the Belmont Mansion waged a war against injustice behind its beautiful facade.

It was the home of Judge Richard Peters and father William, both of whom belonged to an abolitionist society. Richard had a hand in designing the Columbia Railroad, which ran right near the mansion in Fairmount Park. The historians who’ve studied Richard Peters believe that he designed the railroad in such a way that locomotives would have to slow down as they neared the Belmont Mansion, giving those escaping slavery enough time to hop off and meet up with an Underground Railroad agent. They’d then be led to the mansion, where they could safely stay until the next leg of their journey. Take a tour of the Belmont Mansion, led by local students, to learn more about its legacy.