Margaret Esherick House Tour

A collaboration between two icons of modernism

Photography by Jeffrey Totaro

This special tour offers guests the opportunity to experience the celebrated Margaret Esherick house (1961), one of only two examples of collaboration between Wharton Esherick and his friend Louis Kahn, the world-renowned architect. Commissioned by Margaret Esherick, Wharton’s niece, the house features an extraordinary kitchen conceived and installed by Wharton Esherick during the construction of the house. The 1956 Workshop on the museum’s campus, designed by Kahn, Anne Tyng, and Esherick, provides the only other instance of their work together.  

The Margaret Esherick House embodies Kahn’s modernist, elemental approach to material and light at an intimate scale: a 2,500 square foot house with one bedroom. Margaret gave her uncle Wharton full license to design and build the kitchen, which features curving countertops and many signature Esherick design elements like unexpected drawers, hidden storage, and tactile warmth. Esherick’s ingenious handling of tight quarters and the clarity with which he unites form and function sing in this unique space, which preceded the kitchen he built and designed for his own Studio home. 

The Margaret Esherick House is a private residence. The owners have lovingly maintained and preserved the home, receiving local and national recognition for their exceptional stewardship including conservation of Wharton Esherick’s work. In 2023, the house was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places with the kitchen noted as a significant contributing feature. Recognizing the importance of the house, both as an architectural gem in its own right, the opportunity it affords to see an intact Esherick installation, and its unique status as one of two Kahn/Esherick collaborations, the couple have generously partnered with WEM to offer limited tours for the benefit of the museum and its supporters.

This 60-75 minute docent led tour includes both the interior and exterior of the house, which is located in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of northwest Philadelphia. Parking is available on the street.

Things to know before you visit

  All visitors must have advance, paid reservations prior to arriving on-site. No exceptions will be made.

Tours are limited to a maximum of 12 guests.

Children younger than 12 will not be permitted.

  The Margaret Esherick House is a private residence. Please see details about accessibility below. 

We require the names of all guests touring the house, not just those making the booking. You will be prompted to list these during the online checkout process.

Photography by Jeffery Totaro
Photography by Jeffery Totaro

What to expect during your visit

Guests are required to remove their shoes or wear supplied booties over their shoes during the tour.

     You must stay with your guide at all times. Visitors are not allowed to touch any surfaces or objects in the house.

   Photography/Videography inside the house is strictly prohibited.

   No food, drinks, or water bottles are allowed inside.

No pets are allowed inside or on the grounds..

   Large bags and backpacks are not permitted inside. If you bring them along, you may be asked to return them to your car.

   In the event of rain, we encourage you to bring an umbrella for the outdoor portion of the tour.

Margaret Esherick House Tour Pricing:

  • Adults: $40.00
  • No children under 12 permitted

Tour Schedule:

The Margaret Esherick House Tour is offered on the third Sunday of the month during the summer and fall. Check the tour schedule for available dates and times at the ‘Book Your Tour’ button below. 

Any changes to your tour, including cancellations or rescheduling, must be made at least 48 hours in advance of your scheduled tour. Cancellations must be made at least 48 hours in advance of your scheduled tour to receive a full refund. If you need to cancel or reschedule please call 610-644-5822 or email us at [email protected].

Photography by Jeffery Totaro


As a private residence with stairs and narrow spaces, the Margaret Esherick House has limited accessibility for individuals who use walkers or have other mobility issues. The house is not accessible to people who use wheelchairs. We ask that guests use canes and walkers with rubber feet to help protect the floors.

Care partners who accompany visitors are admitted free of charge but must register advance. Please call 610-644-5822 or email [email protected] to make arrangements.

Service animals, as defined by the ADA, are welcome. The ADA defines service animals as dogs that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. Emotional support animals, pets, or any other animals are not permitted inside or on the grounds.

Please email [email protected] if you have questions or would like to request accommodations for your visit.


Louis Kahn (1901- 1974) was born in Estonia but moved to Philadelphia with his familiy while still a child. He was one of the United States’ greatest 20th century architects, known for combining modernism with the weight and monumentality of ancient buildings. Kahn is considered by many as part of the pantheon of modernist architects, which include Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Philip Johnson. Kahn was working on the famed Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, while designing the Margaret Esherick House. His other significant built projects include the Richards Medical Research Laboratories building in Philadelphia, the Kimball Art Museum in Ft. Worth, Texas, the Capitol building of Bangladesh in Dhaka, Philips Exeter Acedemy Library in Exeter, New Hampshire, and The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park in New York City.

Margaret Esherick (1919 – 1962), was the daughter of Wharton Esherick’s brother Joseph (1889 – 1958) and Helen Gaugwisch Esherick (1893- 1954). Margaret graduated from the University of Vermont and owned and operated the Fireside Book Shop in Chestnut Hill, which featured children’s books and educational toys. Her brother Joseph Esherick, a student of Louis Kahn’s at Penn, became a well-regarded architect on the west coast. It is likely Joseph referred Margaret to Kahn to design her home in Chestnut Hill, noting that their uncle Wharton and Kahn were friends. Margaret moved into her home in the fall of 1961, but passed away suddenly there in April 1962.

Margaret Esherick at a staff Christmas Party at Chestnut Hill Hospital, 1955. She owned the Fireside Bookstore and often used the three-wheeled Messerschmitt car to deliver gift purchases around Chestnut Hill. Image courtesy of Chestnut Hill Conservancy Archives.