Atlantis Alumni

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Historic Germantown, PA House Tour

On Tuesday we visited three historic 18th century houses in the Germantown section of Phialdelphia. Germantown used to be separate in the 18th century, but was probably incorporated into the city in the 19th century. It's full of wonderful colonial and Victorian houses, but much of the area (until Chestnut Hill) is run down. For Mornings Out, member Paul Jablonsky organized a tour. The houses themselves were very interesting--Stenton was the oldest, built in 1730, and it was out in the countryside. James Logan (who they named Logan Square after, etc) was one of the wealthiest men in the city, friend to Bejamin Franklin, etc. Part of the house was public--as he also ran a business there--and parts were private. There was a big porch in the back, for the servants, including the slaves. One of the slaves saved the house in the Revolutionary War, by lying to British officers. The family erected a metal plaque in her honor. After the first house on the tour, Paul talked about Gernantown. (He lives there.) Then we all drove to the second house, Grumblethorpe. This was owned by the Wister family, who were Quakers. It's all red brick and some of the furnishings are colonial, others Victorian. There's a big garden in the back that local school kids help keep up. The Quakers had a dilemna: they were supposed to live simply, but the ones whose homes we saw had much money, and so also often nice furniture and other belongings, like silver and china. The third house, Wyck, was owned by a different branch of the Wistar family. The last few occupants, before the house was turned into a museum, were old maiden aunts who saved everything. This house was complete with toys (for nieces, etc), medicine bottles, tons of china, sewn 'samplers' on the walls and paintings from different eras. Wick was originally two separate houses, joined in an ingenious way by the great architect William Stickland in the 1840s or so. He put adjoining doors that open up to form a long hallway through this narrow big, white house. - Dan Evans

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