Tag: Author Justin Watrel

Betsy Ross House 239 Arch Street Philadelphia, PA 19106

Betsy Ross house

239 Arch Street

Philadelphia, PA 19106

(215) 619-4026

http://historicphiladelphia.org/betsy-ross-house/

Admission: Adults $7.00/Children-Seniors-Military $6.00/Audio Tour Add $2.00-Please check Website

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60795-d144052-r793537657-Betsy_Ross_House-Philadelphia_Pennsylvania.html?m=19905

The Betsy Ross House Museum at 239 Arch Street

I visited the Betsy Ross House Museum when touring the small museums of Old Town Philadelphia. What an interesting historical site. You felt like you were invited into Betsy Ross’s house by Betsy Ross herself.

The house and museum is broken up into different sections. When you walk into the museum complex, you will get to visit a very patriotic gift shop stocked with Revolutionary War memorabilia. Out side the gift shop is the formal gardens and the courtyard which is a nice place to relax and enjoy the weather.

When you enter the house, you will be able to visit all the rooms of the house and the kitchen area on the lower level. The interesting part of this self guided tour is that you learn that the house was not owned by Betsy Ross or any of her three husbands. They rented the rooms out from a widow who owned the house at the time and that there had been other people living at the home at the time. Each of the rooms were rented and lived in by other family members.

In each of the upstairs rooms, there are recreations of what the family living arrangements were and how they were decorated. The bedrooms were furnished with vintage furniture of the time and items used in every day life.

The kitchen area was for family cooking and was stocked with items that would have been in day to day process of preparing meals.

Betsy Ross was an upholsterer and ran her business dealings from the front of the house where her small showroom and workroom were located to the street level. Many people in Philadelphia had this work arrangement where the business was in the front of the home and then living quarters were in the back or up above.

In the showroom area, an actress playing Betsy Ross, was there answering all our questions and she was very interesting. When she had been approached to design and create the flag, she had never made a flag before. The actress explained that she had to keep making flags ‘under the wraps’ so that Loyalist would not shut the business down during the war. Her business pretty much was shut down during the War years as people did not have the money or time for her work. I really felt like I was talking to the real person in that time.

The tour will only take about an hour but you will learn so much about business and living arrangements in homes at that time and of the family who lived there. I never knew much about Betsy Ross herself and her husbands and children from different marriages. So you will learn a lot about the family themselves and the lives that she lived with each of them.

It is an interesting tour if you have interest in the American Flag origins and the Revolutionary War.

The History of the Betsy Ross House Museum:

The building at 239 Arch Street, now known as the Betsy Ross House, was built over 250 years ago. The front portion of the house was built around 1740 with the stair hall (or piazza) and the rear section added 10 to 20 years later. The structure is a variation of a ‘bandbox’ or ‘trinity’ style home, with one room on each floor and a winding staircase stretching from the cellar to the upper floors.

The building’s front fa├žade, with a large window on the first floor to display merchandise and it proximity to the Delaware River, made it an ideal location for a business. The house served as both a business and a residence for many different shopkeepers and artisans for more than 150 years. The first floor front room was used as the workshop and showroom. The business owner and his or her family lived in the rest of the home.

Betsy Ross House (Philadelphia) - 2021 All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go |  Tours & Tickets (with Photos) - Tripadvisor

The sitting room recreation

By the late 19th century, most of the other colonial era buildings that once stood on this block of Arch Street, had been torn down and replaced with large industrial buildings and warehouses. Many people feared that Betsy’s home would meet the same fate.

In 1898, a group of concerned citizens established the American Flag House and Betsy Ross Memorial Association to raise money to purchase the house from the Munds, the people who resided there, to restore it and open it as a public museum in honor of Betsy Ross and the first American Flag.

Charles Weisgerber was one of the founding members of the Memorial Association. In 1892, he painted Birth of Out Nation’s Flag, a 9′ x 12′ painting that depicts Betsy Ross presenting the first American flog to George Washington, Robert Morris and George Ross.

To raise money to purchase the house, members of the American Flag House and Betsy Ross Memorial Association sold lifetime memberships to the organization for 10 cents. Each donor received a membership certification imprinted with an image of Birth of Our Nation’s Flag. Individuals were encouraged to form ‘clubs’ of thirty members. The person who formed the club would receive a ten-color chromolithograph of the Weisgerber painting, suitable for framing, in addition to certificates for each club member.

Weisgerber moved his family into the upstairs floor of the home in 1898 and immediately opened two rooms to the public. The first floor front room was a souvenir shop and the room in the back of the house where the meeting between Betsy Ross and the Flag Committee was said to have occurred, was open for visitors to view.

Betsy Ross House (Philadelphia) - 2021 All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go |  Tours & Tickets (with Photos) - Tripadvisor

A period bedroom in the house

The American Flag Hose and the Betsy Ross Memorial Association wanted to protect the house from fire and other dangers. They purchased the two properties on the west side of the house in 1929, in hopes of creating a civil garden. When the Great Depression hit, tourism and donations to the house slowed and much of the work on house and courtyard were delayed.

In 1937, structural changes and general wear and tear on the house led to the dire need for restoration work. A. Atwater Kent, a Philadelphia radio mogul, offered to pay up to $25,000 for the restoration of the house. Historical architect, Richardson Brognard Okie was commissioned to do the work.

Under Okie, the house’s original architectural elements were spared wherever possible. When the original components could not be reused, materials were obtained from demolished homes from the same period. A small structure containing a boiler room and a restroom was constructed in back of the original house with Revolutionary War era bricks.

In the historic house, three hidden fireplaces were uncovered, the front stairway and dormer were replaced and the door leading from the kitchen to the back of the house was restored. The most notable change, however, was to the front of the house. The doorway in the front of the building was moved from the western to the eastern corner and a new window was installed. Construction was completed and all eight rooms of the house were open to the public on Flag Day, June 14th, 1937.

By the 1940’s, the Betsy Ross House began to look like the place we recognize today but the Association’s work was not complete. A. Atwater Kent worked with the Association to pay off its final debts on the property. The entire property, including the historic house and courtyard was given to the City of Philadelphia in 1941.

In 1965, an annex building was added to the property and in 1974, the courtyard was renovated and the fountain was added. Two years later, the remains of Betsy Ross and her third husband, John Claypoole were moved from Mount Moriah Cemetery in Yeadon, PA to the garden on the west side of the Betsy Ross House courtyard.

In 1965, a private non-profit organization, Historic Philadelphia Inc. began leasing the property from the City of Philadelphia and continues to manage the site. The Betsy Ross House remains dedicated to its mission of preserving the historic site and interpreting the life of Betsy Ross, a working class, 18th Century tradeswoman. Visitors can view six period rooms, including the only interpretation of an 18th century upholstery shop in the country. The rooms are furnished with period antiques, 18th century reproductions and objects that belonged to Betsy Ross and her family. Highlights of the collection include Betsy Ross’s walnut chest on chest, her Chippendale chair, her eyeglasses and her bible.

(Betsy Ross House Museum website/Wiki/Pamphlet)

Elfreth’s Alley Museum 126 Elfreth’s Alley Philadelphia, PA 19106

Elfreth’s Alley Museum

126 Elfreth’s Alley

Philadelphia, PA 19106

(215) 574-0560

Open: Sunday-Wednesday Closed/Thursday-Saturday 12:00pm-4:00pm

Admission: Adults $3.00/Children 7-12 $2.00/Children under 7 Free

http://www.elfrethsalley.org/

https://www.facebook.com/elfrethsalleymuseum/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60795-d138249-r793534882-Elfreth_s_Alley-Philadelphia_Pennsylvania.html?m=19905

I came across this interesting little historical museum when I was touring Elfreth’s Alley in Old Town, Philadelphia. What an interesting look back at the merchant trade class of the 18th century. It really showed how the average worker used both their home as a business and as a home. The home had been former business of a pair of dressmakers who used the front parlor as their store and showroom, the side room used as the kitchen, the upstairs room was the living quarters for a very large family (I believe that the family had eight children according to the tour guide) and a nice sized garden in the back of the home.

The front rooms were used as the workplace showroom where the merchants would greet their customers, decide on the patterns and make and then conduct their business. When they were done for the day, they just closed up shop. What I thought was interesting about the two business owners is that they took most of their meals out at the local pub. Time as dressmakers left them little time to cook so meals had to be eaten out.

The dress makers wares being shown at the museum

When you climb the narrow stairs to the second floor, it leads to the loft living space. When I heard how many people lived at the house, I could not imagine that today. Children today pretty much have their own rooms but these people lived on top of one another. It was such a small space for a family of ten. Then you had to walk down another narrow staircase to come back to the first floor.

The backyard garden was really nice with interesting plantings, a nice sized garden of flowers and benches to cool under on a hot day. I am not sure if the gardens were historically accurate but it was a nice place to relax on a hot day. It is worth it to visit this small home to see how another generation worked and lived under very different conditions (Elfreth’s Alley Museum self-guided tour).

The Elfreth’s Alley Museum at 124-126 Elfreth’s Alley

The History of Elfreth’s Alley Museum:

Elfreth’s Alley Museum is located at 124-126 Elfreth’s Alley, preserves the 18th Century home of a pair of dressmakers. Restored to its appearance in the Colonial era, exhibits the house and tour guides interpret the life of the house and alley’s residents in that era. There are 32 houses on the street that were built between 1703 to 1836 (Wiki/Museum site).

The History of Elfreth’s Alley:

Elfreth’s Alley is named after Jeremiah Elfreth, an 18th century blacksmith and property owner. Among the alley’s residents were tradesmen and their families. Their trades included shipwrights, silver and pewter smiths, glassblowers and furniture builders. In the 1770’s, one third of the households were headed by women (Wiki).

The Georgian and Federal style houses and cobblestone pavement of the alley were common in Philadelphia during this time. The houses are typically small and many are uniquely Philadelphian Trinity houses. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, industry began to change the street with a stove factory being built in 1868. Soon it was followed by more factories that surrounded the area (Wiki).

Elfreth's Alley Museum - Home | Facebook

Elfreth’s Alley Museum site and homes

In 1934, the Elfreth’s Ally Association (EAA) was founded to preserve the alley’s historic structures while interpreting the streets history. The EAA helped save the street from demolition and also lobbied the City to restore the alley’s name to Elfreth’s Alley. The area is an example of urban 18th and 19th century architecture and is part of the “Old Town” neighborhood of Philadelphia (Wiki).

The neighborhood hosts many events so please check their website for the dates and events.

Philipsburg Manor House 381 North Broadway Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591

Philipsburg Manor House 381 North Broadway Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591

Philipsburg Manor House

381 North Broadway

Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591

(914) 336-6900

Open: Please check the website for COVID updates

Fee: Please check the website for the COVID updates

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48622-d299069-Reviews-Philipsburg_Manor-Sleepy_Hollow_New_York.html

I have visited the Philipsburg Manor House and Estate many times over the years. During the “Headless Horseman” Halloween activities, the house is open for tours. You are able to tour the rooms and see the home in a spooky environment. The house was lit by candles and the tour guides lead you through the house.

During a special event at the holidays, the house had seasonal decorations, lit by a combination candles and open hearth fires in the fireplace and tour guides explained a Colonial holiday season.

The Manor House as it was explained to me was a place where the Philipse family stayed when they were away from the main family mansion and was doing business on the estate. So the home was comfortable and workable and functional but not luxurious as the main manor house where the family lived. The kitchen, common room and bedrooms were nicely furnished at the time for the owners visits but was not elegant in the form of the main manor house. This was full working estate at all times. The Mill is located near the manor house and their are walking paths around the house.

During the Halloween season, both Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow are busy with activities with readings, cemetery tours, ‘haunted events’ and other activities. Please check out the Historic Hudson Valley website for the roster of events. Things have changed since the era of COVID.

The History of the Philipsburg Manor House:

(WIKI/Historic Hudson River Valley Society)

The Philipsburg Manor House is an historic house in the Upper Mills Section of the former sprawling Colonial-era estate known as Philipsburg Manor. Together with the water mill and the trading site the house is operated bas a non-profit museum by the Historical Hudson River Valley. It is located on US 9 in the Village of Sleepy Hollow, NY. (Wiki)

the Philipsburg Manor House

The Philipsburg Manor House and Mill area of the estate

The Manor House dates from 1693 when wealthy Province of New York merchant Frederick Philipse was granted a charter for 52,00 acres along the Hudson River by the British Crown. He built this facility at the meeting of the Pocantico and Hudson Rivers as a provisioning depot for the family Atlantic sea trade and as headquarters for a worldwide shipping operation. For more than thirty years, Frederick and his wife, Margaret and later his son Adolph shipped hundreds of African men, women and children as slaves across the Atlantic. The manor was tenanted by farmers of various European backgrounds and operated by enslaved Africans (Wiki).

The Working Kitchen

The working kitchen at the Philipsburg Manor house

At the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, the Philipses supported the British Crown and their landholdings were seized and auctioned off. The manor house was used during the war, most notably by British General Sir Henry Clinton during the militaries in 1779. It was there that he wrote what is know as the Philipsburg Proclamation, which declared all Patriot-owned slaves to be freed and that blacks taken prisoner while serving in Patriot forces would be sold in slavery (Wiki/Hudson River Valley History).

Philipsburg Manor

The reproduction of the bedroom in Philipsburg Manor when the family stayed in house

A National Historic Landmark in 1961, the farm features a stone manor house filled with a collection of 17th and 18th Century period furnishings, a working water-powered grist mill and millpond, an 18 century barn, a slave garden and reconstructed tenant farm house (Wiki/Hudson River Valley History).

During the season when the estate is open for visitors, there are costumed interpreters who reenact life in pre-Revolutionary War times doing various chores around the estate. During the Halloween season, the home is open for haunted tours of the manor during the “Headless Horseman” event. During the Christmas holiday season, the home is open for seasonal activities. Please check the website during COVID for activities (Historic Hudson River Valley).

Saugerties Lighthouse                                   168 Lighthouse Drive                        Saugerties, NY 12477

Saugerties Lighthouse 168 Lighthouse Drive Saugerties, NY 12477

Saugerties Lighthouse

168 Lighthouse Drive

Saugerties, NY 12477

(845) 247-0656

https://www.facebook.com/SaugertiesLighthouse/

Open: Please check the website for hours/Seasonal

Admission: Free for the Grounds/Check the website for the B & B availability

https://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=678

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48564-d4214114-Reviews-Lighthouse-Saugerties_Catskill_Region_New_York.html

I was recently travelling through Saugerties, New York recently and saw the small sign for the historical Saugerties Lighthouse and decided to take the road path down to the river. This interesting little site is hidden behind a wetlands area and neighborhood of homes and a Coast Guard station.

Saugerties Lighthouse

The Historical Saugerties Lighthouse in Saugerties, NY

I walked through the wetlands park through a pathway of bridges and paths and suggest by the walk do not go after it has just rained. Also do not go after dark as the path is not lite. Still it is fascinating walk through the wetlands passing streams and patches of beautiful flowers and trees. Take your time to admire the flowers and plants along the paths and look at the views of the river as you exit the paths.

The lighthouse itself needs some work but it is elegant old building that sits stately against the mountain views. In the middle of the summer, all the colors are bright and vibrant. You can walk around most of the building but the walkway in the front offers a nice view of the whole structure.

The only way to go inside is to book a room at the B & B so check the website out.

The History of the Saugerties Lighthouse:

(From the Friends of the Saugerties Lighthouse)

The lighthouse was practically a pile of crumbling bricks poised to tumble into the Hudson River, the Saugerties Lighthouse barely escaped the demolition ball in the 1960’s. Today, completely renovated and delighting B & B guests, it stands as a testament to the perseverance and hard work of many dedicated individuals.

The name Saugerties is derived from the Dutch “Zager’s Killetje”, meaning a sawmill on a creek and in fact, there was a mill built on Esopus Creek to harness the creek’s waterpower. The mill formed the cornerstone of a thriving paper industry, which produced as much as eight tons of paper daily, making it one of the leading producers of paper in the 1800’s.

On June 30, 1834, Congress appropriated $5000 for the construction of a lighthouse at the mouth of the creek to guide mariners past the nearby shallows and into Esopus Creek and the busy port of Saugerties. Charles Hooster built the lighthouse on a forty by fifty foot timber-framed pier and its light, produced by five whale oil lamps set in parabolic reflectors, commenced operation in 1835 with Abraham Persons as its first keeper.

A fire in 1848 destroyed the original lighthouse but it was rebuilt on the old site by 1850 at which time four lamps were being displayed from atop the two-story structure. Light lists described the second lighthouse as a “light on keeper’s house.” A sixth-order Fresnel lens replaced the array of lamps and reflectors in the lantern room in 1854.

Ice floes and tidal currents took their toll on the foundation pier and on March 2, 1867, Congress appropriated $25,000 to build a replacement lighthouse just a few yards closer to the shore. This structure, still standing today, was built on a circular granite crib, with a depth of twelve foot and a diameter of sixty feet that rests on fifty-six pilings sunk into the riverbed and topped with three layers of six-inch timbers. The two story lighthouse has twenty-inch thick natural colored brick cavity walls and a sixth-order Fresnel lens cast its beacon from the lantern room. No longer needed, the old wooden lighthouse was sold.

Saugerties Lighthouse was considered a plum assignment due to its proximity to town. In 1888, Saugtegies Harbor was enlarged through the construction of jetties and the keeper’s jaunt to town was made easier when a small road was built along the north jetty to the lighthouse.

The lightkeepers were friendly with their neighbors and even enlisted their help. A neighbor downriver would hand a bed sheet out their window whenever they saw the lighthouse tender coming upriver, giving the lightkeeper about a half-hour notice before the inspector arrived.

Daniel Crowley was serving as keeper of the light when the current brick lighthouse was built. He had been placed in charge of the light in 1865, replacing his father Dennis, who was removed from service after just three months. Daniel’s sister, Katie, grew up at the lighthouse and seemed to be amphibious. She would often venture out into the river along in a skiff and when her little craft was upset, there were no worries as she could swim like a duck. Katie was made the official keeper of the light in 1873 and her lack of fear of the water lead to some remarkable rescues.

Around the turn of the century, the boathouse, located atop the foundation of the first lighthouse, a small island east of the current lighthouse was moved to the circular lighthouse pier. In 1910, a wooden platform was extended from the top of the tower to support a fog bell and an enclosed shaft was mounted below the platform to protect the suspended weights that powered the bell striking mechanism.

Conrad Hawk’s twenty-six year stint as keeper, lasting from 1914 to 1940 was far longer than that of any other keeper of Saugerties Lighthouse. In 1916, his son Earl and daughter Ilal were playing with a small battery and brought it into contact with the large battery used for the station’s fog bell. The resulting short-circuit caused an explosion that blew the battery to pieces, cutting Ilal’s face and produced a current that burned Earl’s arms. Earl nearly lost a big toe in 1922 when his foot came into contact with a boat’s propeller as he tried to climb aboard while swimming near the lighthouse.

Through they both had a few scars, Earl and Ilah survived at Saugerties Lighthouse. Earl Hawk graduated from the Navy’s school at Annapolis and entered the submarine service, while Ilal attended Cortland State teacher’s College and became a physical education instructor. Just before Christmas in 1939, Keeper Hawk’s went to the hospital to receive treatment for stomach ulcers but the treatments failed and he passed away on January 8th, 1940.

When electricity was extended to the lighthouse in the 1940’s, the dwelling was “modernized” with steam heat, plumbing and a telephone. In February 1954, Keeper Ed Pastorini was informed his light would be automated come spring. Wanting to leave the station in tip-top shape, he lovingly painted the three large upstairs bedrooms. Tears flooded his eyes when he closed the door and left the lighthouse for the last time.

Saugerties Lighthouse

The Historic Saugerties Lighthouse in all its beauty

The lighthouse tender soon arrived and its crew tore out the plumbing, furnace and fixtures. In stark contrast to Keeper Pastorini’s care, gallons of water were drained out on the floors and left to soak through the floorboards. The building was sealed up and left to deteriorate which it did quickly.

A decade later, the Coast Guard planned to demolish the vandalized and dilapidated lighthouse, when it stepped Ruth Reynolds Glunt, wife of Chester B. Glunt, a former Coast Guard light attendant stationed at Turkey Point near Saugerties. Mrs. Glunt a longtime friend of many lighthouse keepers along the Hudson River, carried a passion for saving lighthouse and mounted a campaign to halt the demolition. Through her efforts and those of architect Elise Barry, the structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

The Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy was established in 1985 with the mission to restore and maintain the lighthouse and the following year the conservancy was able to purchase the lighthouse and surrounding wetlands for $1.00. The conservancy received a building on the verge of tumbling down but managed in just a few years to turn it into a beautifully restored lighthouse.

Roughly 10,000 old bricks, which had crumbling after being penetrated by moisture, were replaced. The lantern room was removed and refurbished. Stairs, handrails, floors and walls were completely reconstructed. To top of the transformation, a solar powered light installed in the lantern room by the Coast Guard was activated on August 4th, 1990.

Saugerties Lighthouse furnished in 1920’s decor is now open to the public and welcomes overnight guests as a bed and breakfast. Visitors can walk to the lighthouse along a one half mile long through the Ruth Reynolds Glunt Nature Preserve, where they will be greeted by a modern day resident keeper who runs the bed and breakfast and maintains the lighthouse.

Saugerties Lighthouse

A big thank you to the Friends of the Saugerties Lighthouse for their dedication in this important site

*This is just a portion of the blog from the Friends of Saugerties Lighthouse. Please see the attached website for more information.