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The President's House in Philadelphia


Nathaniel Burt II, Historical Society of Pennsylvania Address ... on the Washington Mansion in Philadelphia (Philadelphia, 1875), 33

"On the 12th day of April, 1832, this property, so offered, was purchased by the late Nathaniel Burt. The building had long been occupied in the upper part as a boarding house, and on the first floor by a confectioner and others. Everything was in decay, and of no pecuniary value, except for the ground. [T]he old buildings were razed to the ground: no vestige of them remains on the premises, excepting on the Minor street front a portion of the old coach-house wall was incorporated into the new stores erected on that street. On the Market street front the ground was occupied by three stores, now Nos. 526, 528, 530 Market. No. 530, the largest of these, extending through to Minor and including the wall just alluded to..."

Richard Rush, "A Sketch, in Part from Memory - 1857"

"Walking lately down Market street, from the western part of the city, I looked about, after passing Sixth street, for the former residence of General Washington. I thought I had discovered it, though greatly metamorphosed, in a house some half dozen doors below Sixth street, on the south side, which still retained a little of the old fashion in front, with dentels [sic] pendant from the cornice; but, on inquiry, I found that it was not. All is now gone. Not a trace is left of that once stately and venerable residence... I could find no vestige of the Philadelphia domicil[e] of Washington, relatively recent as was the day when his living presence sanctified it."

Grace Greenwood, Stories and Sketches (NY: Tait, Sons and Company, 1892), 10

"A while since, in looking over a Philadelphia Directory for 1797 my heart gave a great bound as I came upon this entry: 'Washington, George, 190 High Street.' To the disgrace of Philadelphia, that house, second only in historic interest to Independence Hall, was many years ago demolished."

Charles E. Peterson, A.I.A., Final Report to the United States Congress by the Philadelphia National Shrines Park Commission (December, 1947), 256-58, 269

"When Philadelphia was selected as the nation's capital during the 1790's, a handsome mansion owned by Robert Morris, was leased by the City of Philadelphia as a residence for the President of the United States. This Presidential Mansion stood on Market Street near 6th only a block north of Congress Hall.... For nearly ten years, therefore, the Presidential Mansion occupied a position of paramount importance in national life. Moreover, these were the critical years when the Constitution itself was on trial.... No President of the United States ever faced more difficult problems than those which were met by George Washington.... Into Philadelphia and directly to Market Street traveled the nation's problems. They landed in the office of the Chief Executive. The Presidential Mansion on Market Street was the new nation's pilot-house in troubled and uncharted seas. The pilot, Washington himself, was determined that Constitutional government should be brought safely into port...

"The site of the Presidential Mansion is hardly surpassed in importance by any other historical site in America.... Investigation indicates that a portion of the original foundations of the Presidential Mansion remains intact under the 19th Century buildings that now occupy the site.... The eminent personages who lived here and the decisions affecting the future of the nation that were made here have caused growing interest in the Presidential Mansion and the ground upon which it once stood. It is a distinguished historical site."

Ernest Howard Yardley, A.I.A. for the Philadelphia Chapter, American Institute of Architects to the editor of the Evening Bulletin, January 9, 1952

"The demolition of the various structures between Market and Chestnut Streets for the Mall northward from the Independence Hall group, is assuming such aspect that we can begin to appreciate our historic shrine from a more pleasing angle. However, it is unfortunate that the demolition is proceeding with no regard on the part of the Director of the Project, for the several other important buildings within the area which were of decided prominence during our early history.

"Particular tradition is attached to what was originally known as 190 High Street, but known in our own time as 526-28-30 Market Street, where President George Washington resided from 1790 to 1797 and our second President, John Adams, from 1797 to 1800, during the time when Philadelphia was the temporary capital of the United States....

"The writer is making no attempt to argue for the duplication of any of these historic buildings, but as the location of each has been authenticated, and in some cases the foundations are known to still exist, the adopted plan of the area should be made to include full size markings, at the finished grade level, to indicate the locations and extent of the original structures.

"The attitude of the Commonwealth has been to ignore these venerable places and clear the site of all foundations by the use of bull dozers. This was called to the attention of the State Official in charge, and from whom the direction of the work emanates, his reply, now on record, was that the appropriation would not permit of such careful and meticulous excavation as would be required under the suggestion advanced [that an archaeological study be made]. Therefore, it is not desirable to institute the necessary measures to interrupt the work....

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