The Trophy House was erected in 1931
  • The Trophy House was erected in 1931
  • Specimens from Kenya were shipped to New York City where they were mounted by James L. Clark Studios, the nation’s leading taxidermists
  • The Trophy House reflects the Arts & Crafts architecture of the early twentieth century and was probably designed by Davis & Lewis, Scranton architects
  • The Trophy house served as a place for Fuller family parties, receptions, and holiday events
  • Left to right: Guide Murray Smith, Mortimer B. Fuller, Jr., Jacob Schlager, and Dr. Jonathan M. Wainwright
  • Car being towed out of the mire

The Trophy House

In the early twentieth century the animals of the Serengeti Plain and Massai Mara were abundant. Ardent conservationists such as Theodore Roosevelt trekked to Africa to hunt and bring back specimens for American natural history museums. Nestled on a quiet hilltop at Fullers Overlook Farm, the Trophy House is a remarkable structure that exemplifies this era and speaks to the long interest of the Fuller family in natural history and adventure.

The Safari

Mort Fuller, Jr., as a boy growing up at Overlook, had developed a keen interest in nature. He trapped and mounted numerous specimens he found in the meadows and forests on his parents’ estate. In 1930, at age 23, Mort headed an African safari, joined by his friend Jacob R. Schlager and Dr. Jonathan M. Wainwright, a prominent cancer surgeon of Scranton who later became head of The American Cancer Society. They engaged Thomas Cook, Ltd., to organize and assist in their safari. During nine weeks of travel, the men camped, hunted, wrestled their vehicles out of mud holes, and made a memorable descent of the Nile River. Fuller, an avid cameraman, recorded many of their adventures. His movie footage is preserved at the Smithsonian Institution.

The Trophy House Architecture

The Trophy House is a rare example of a family’s effort to preserve and document the mammals of the plains of East Africa. The house was erected in 1931, and since its opening that year, it has drawn scores of visitors and has also served as a place for Fuller family parties, receptions, and holiday events. The building reflects the Arts & Crafts architecture of the early twentieth century, with impressive attention to detail. The stained glass windows include medallions with images of African mammals, and even the lampshades and wall sconces are decorated with silhouettes of animals.

“By driving, pushing, pulling, and digging we managed to do 60 miles in ten working hours. Mind we are travelling in three cars . . . Twice the trucks were so badly mired that they had to be completely unloaded and twenty to thirty times all hands, white and black, had to combine and push or pull out a mired car.”

Dr. Jonathan M. Wainwright
February 11, 1930