The Gibbet Home The Whispering Bench
ushistory.org homepageSign our GuestbookAbout the Independence Hall AssociationAwards Our Work Has GarneredRelated Internet LinksReplace Your Tattered FlagGift Ideas for History Buffs
Philadelphia Oddities

Grumblethorpe Blood Stains

History in Philadelphia is the real stuff. Take this Germantown Avenue summerhouse built by German immigrant John Wistar in 1744 as a prime example of authenticity. When the British occupied Germantown in the fall of 1777, Gen. James Agnew pushed the Wister family out and moved into what was then called John Wister's Big House. Agnew led a British counterattack after Washington's surprise assault on Germantown on the morning of Oct. 4, 1777. Described as "a dignified and kindly man," Agnew was fatally shot leading his troops up Germantown Avenue. He was taken back to Grumblethrope — either dead or close to death — where he bled profusely on the floor boards of the front parlor. Attempts to either scrub or bleach out the stains failed. The faded stains are clearly visible today.

There are a lot of other authentic and interesting things to see at Grumblethorope, including the oldest ginkgo tree in America, a rent receipt from John Wistar for a tenant (in a city property) named Benjamin Franklin; a great colonial kitchen, a forge and the writing desk used by author Owen Wister. The only thing phony about Grumblethrope is its name. An early 19th century Wister lifted it from an English novel he was reading and it stuck.

Back | Home | Next

Historic Posters

Click here!