The original home, built
in 1767, was one of the
many small summer
houses which are more
typical of the era than Mt.
Pleasant or Lemon Hill.
While only three bays
wide (take away the one
story addition on the left
and the octagonal
addition on the right) it
Palladian design and
proportion. Before the
brick was painted over, it
would have looked very
Small as it was, the original house's appearance echoes some of Mt. Pleasant's details
like the projecting pavilion with a pediment at the roof which is echoed at the
frontispiece. The frontispiece itself has two Doric columns supporting a Doric frieze
with triglyphs and metopes. Other decorative elements are also rather grand like the
projecting keystones over the windows, the large brackets at the cornice, the running
Greek key dentil work similar to that at Carpenter's Hall and the belt course.
The first addition in the early 1800's is very utilitarian with an extension of the water
table the only decoration. Unfortunately, it ruins the Georgian symmetry. The octagonal,
Greek Revival, addition from the 1830's is a whole different matter- it almost
overpowers the original house. The windows are almost the same overall size as the
original windows but have exactly half the number of panes of glass on the ground floor
and even fewer on the upper windows. The addition has a belt course as well but it
doesn't align with the original one. In spite of the problems it creates in the front façade
the addition provides a lot of additional interior space and a very grand first floor parlor
which takes advantage of the octagonal space.
Originally owned by the politically active Shoemaker family, the house briefly passed
out of their hands after the revolution because the family had supported the Crown
(rather common among peace loving Quakers). The family later reacquired it, and then
it passed on to the Physick family, the owners of the Physick house in Society Hill. It
was sold by them to Philadelphia in 1869.
This Georgian House (with
two later additions) is an
understated jewel. Ask
about the concert by