text: seven walking tours through historic Philadelphia

Powel House

Society Hill 11

The next stop is one of the finest Georgian houses in the United States, the Powel House at 244 South 3rd Street. Built in 1765, it was purchased in 1768 by Samuel Powel, the last Colonial mayor of Philadelphia and the first mayor after the Revolution. Samuel's wife Elizabeth was a sister of Thomas Willing, who with his partner Robert Morris helped finance the Revolution. Powel, like so many other Philadelphians, died of the yellow fever in 1793, but the family remained in the house for over forty years. On the second floor the ballroom dominates, and it was here that Washington, Adams, Franklin, Lafayette and other worthies were entertained by Mrs. Powel, one of the most brilliant hostesses of her time. John Adams wrote: "... a most sinful feast again! Everything which could delight the eye or allure the taste; curds and creams, jellies, sweetmeats of various sorts, twenty sorts of tarts, fools, trifles, whipped sillibub, &c." The ballroom with its magnificent Waterford chandelier, circa 1790, contains a pianoforte from 1795 in addition to a French harp and an arm harp.

Society Hill