Servants' Staircase

Glen Foerd

Servants' Staircase

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, United States

Created By: Glen Foerd on the Delaware


Contrasting the grandeur of the mansion's open-air monumental staircase, this staircase is tight and tucked away. The owners of Glen Foerd employed several domestic workers who used this staircase to navigate the house, the majority of whom were not born in the United States. One exception was Arthur Laws, an African American butler, who received considerably less pay than his white coworkers despite holding a much higher rank in the household team.

At the turn of the century, jobs in industrial settings were generally preferred over domestic trades by white, American-born workers who had more selective privilege than immigrants and African Americans. The Foederers, the second owners of Glen Foerd, employed a few Irish folks along with several Swedes and had a French butler before Arthur Laws was hired in 1908.

Laws was a dedicated worker who spent almost all of his time at Glen Foerd, while his children and wife lived in a house they owned in North Philly. Stories from his descendants make note of his occasional visits home, when wore his fine butler’s uniform, livery he wore at Glen Foerd, set the table with fresh flowers, and treat his own family with all the elegance as he would at Glen Foerd. Arthur and his wife Mary died by the time his children were teenagers, after which point the Foerderer family paid for their care and education. Descendants of Arthur Laws still visit the Mansion today.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Glen Foerd


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