Franklin's House
Historic Stuctures Report
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Illustration No. 1. JOHN READ PLAN OF FRANKLIN COURT, 1765. The house itself is centered in the courtyard behind wall and entranceway at the left edge of the drawing. In the upper corner are the properties along Market Street. This Market Street locale had been a part of Franklin's life since the day of his arrival in Philadelphia during 1723. He lived and worked in the small houses at first and later managed them as rental units. Two plots and L-shaped alleyway shown at bottom depict developed properties fronting Chestnut Street. This is one of two drawings found in the Franklin Papers at the American Philosophical Society Library (69, 106). The other, an unruled, draft sketch of properties and alleyways, gives dimensions of the lots along Market Street, but contains no representation of the house. Courtesy of American Philosophical Society.

Illustration No. 2. PORTRAIT OF DEBORAH FRANKLIN, painted by Benjamin Wilson in 1758-59, shows the determined-looking wife who superintended completion of the house as she appeared a few years before. A companion to the portrait of Franklin by the same artist, it graced the dining parlor's walls too. Courtesy of American Philosophical Society.

Illustration No. 3. "IRON RAIL FROM CHIMNEY TO CHIMNEY," on house at 115 North Water Street is shown in this photograph taken a few years before its demolition. Note such other characteristics of building's period as molded brick above second story windows. Independence National Historical Park photographic file.

Illustration No. 4. DINING ROOM, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN HOUSE, 1763-66. Starting with insurance survey's tersely worded description, much can be done to re-create house's fine room by reference to surviving examples of work done by same craftsmen who built Franklin's house. Documented perspective study offers alternative treatments of various features from suitable contemporary work.

Illustration No. 5. WILLIAM LOGAN'S HOUSE ON SECOND STREET, when built enjoyed a residential location. By time William Birch's engraving appeared at century's end, City Tavern, to the left, and Bank of Pennsylvania, at center, had made locale one of Philadelphia's busiest. Note elaborate brackets supporting cockle-shell hood over Logan's doorway.

Illustration No. 6. DETAIL FROM KRIMMEL ENGRAVING "ELECTION 1815," OF INDEPENDENCE HALL CLOCK CASE. Fullness of detail bears eloquently on subject of the "Large painthouse" of Gunning Bedford's insurance survey for James Logan's house and the two "Large painthouses" on Franklin's. Independence National Historical Park photographic file.

Illustration No. 7. ICE HOUSE from engraving in eighteenth century encyclopedia printed in Philadelphia shows essential features of such contemporaneous facilities. No indication of a drain was found with Franklin House ice pit. In other respects Franklin's may have been similar. Independence National Historical Park photographic file.

Illustration No. 8. SECOND FLOOR PLAN OF HOUSE, drawn sometime after May 17, 1764, date of receipt on other side, is earliest known representation of structure while still being built. This more critical photocopy, made after removal of binding slip from left margin, replaces earlier versions presented as Figure 5, opposite page 19 in Edward M. Riley's Preliminary Historical Report Franklin Court of March 1950 and Illustration No 1, Chapter II, Section 1 in Historic Structures Report, Part I on Franklin's House of December 1961. Franklin Papers, American Philosophical Society Library (66, 124). Courtesy of American Philosophical Society.

Illustration No. 9. FIRST FLOOR PLAN OF HOUSE, from Franklin Papers, American Philosophical Society Library (44, pt. 1, 110). Courtesy of American Philosophical Society.

Illustration No. 10. PORTRAIT OF SARAH FRANKLIN BACHE, painted by John Hoppner in London during the Baches' trip abroad in 1792. Described by Manasseh Cutler a few years before as a "very gross and rather homely lady," she had impressed the Marquis de Chastellux in 1780 as "simple in her manners" and "benevolent" and "typical of Philadelphia's charming women; her taste as delicate as her health. . . . " Niemcewicz found that "her natural wit and her conversation does not belie the origin from which she descends." Sally was 48 years old when Hoppner painted this portrait and had lived all but a few months of the previous 27 years in the Franklin house. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wolfe Fund, 1901.

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Last Updated: 30-Jun-2008