historical fiction, history

Impromptu Visit to the Shippen-Wistar House

I had time to kill before my dentist appointment today, so I took a little impromptu detour over to the Shippen-Wistar House.

The Shippen-Wistar House in Philadelphia. Yes, it was for sale last year and then a real estate developer bought it this past Feb (hence the for sale sign)to be sold again at $5.5 Million. You might see a zoning notice on the front door – it says that the real estate developer basically wants to knock a wall down to create parking spaces…..which obviously is not too cool…The zoning notice said there was a public hearing about it on August 6, so I wonder how it went. That being said, there were informational pamphlets made by the real estate company about the history of the house, so I really hope some museum buys it. It is wild to think that if you were just rich enough you could straight up live in that house!! That would be almost mind-blowing.

Living in Philadelphia is a history fangirl’s dream. I feel so fortunate to have all these historical locations at my disposal, as well as the ease of popping over to any of them whenever I please! Sorry for the slightly bad quality of the photos, as these were taken soon after solar noon so the light is quite harsh. Still, I can just so easily imagine Peggy and Andre in that courtyard, as well as all the other British and Continental officers who passed through there! (Side note: that courtyard is gated so I had to stick my phone through the bars to get the photos :p).

Also, the house – which is actually two houses, the second was added later – is very large even by today’s standards (even just the original house!), which gives you a little insight into the standing of the Shippen family in Philadelphia at that time (even if the money was running out.) What is also interesting is its proximity to Washington Square park aka Potter’s Field as it was known in the 18th century – a place where those [poor] who had died of disease (there was a small pox outbreak in the city before the war and on and off during it) were given a mass burial. The plot of land, a burial and meeting ground for the black community, also served as a mass grave for deceased POWs and those who had lost their lives in battle before, during, and after the British occupation. My point is, the smell must have been quite striking for those living in the area, like the Shippen family. Now if only I was a millionaire so that I could buy it, restore it, and make the interior look 18th century appropriate.

Here is the informational pamphlet, complete with the entire floor plan! (again, new phone has a really bad camera for some reason…)