Franklin's House
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Illustration No. 11. PORTRAIT OF RICHARD BACHE, painted by John Hoppner in London during 1792, shows Franklin's son-in-law as he appeared in his 55th year. Born in Yorkshire, Bache came to Pennsylvania to engage in business and soon met and married Sarah Franklin. During the American Revolution he belonged to high patriot councils in Pennsylvania and served as Franklin's successor in the office of postmaster general. Niemcewicz described him as having "completely the air of a Country Esquaire, frank countenance and with a rather jovial humor." The artist of this and the companion likeness of Sarah Bache enjoyed great vogue as a portraitist whose work exhibited "extraordinary delicacy and a golden tone." Doubtless Hoppner did his sympathetic best for both subjects; he had married the daughter of the "ingenious" Patience Wright, noted wax figure modeler and intimate friend of Deborah Franklin. Daughter Phoebe in all probability knew Sally Bache personally. Courtesy of Richard B. Duane.

Illustration No. 12. FRANKLIN HOUSE STAIR HALL. Crossing two windows of the first floor front, stairs made its way to second floor via one landing. Door under landing opened to a flight of stairs leading to kitchen in cellar. Door to right opened into dining room. At far right is first floor"s only wall jog, remnant plaster of which was recovered during course of archeology. Features of staircase are drawn from floor plans, insurance survey, and surviving elements of staircases built in comparable houses within a year or two of Franklin's by same tradesmen who did his. A conjectural study by William M. Campbell.

Illustration No. 13. HOME OF THOMAS WILLING ON THIRD STREET, may be similar to appearance of Franklin's. Willing, business partner of Robert Morris and acknowledged leader of Pennsylvania until eve of Independence, later headed Bank of the United States though neutral after July 4, 1776. Earlier rain catcher, removed when Franklin's was, weighed with spout 924 pounds. Plain inside when compared to Franklin"s, house was described by fire insurance surveyor Jonathan Dillworth as 42 feet front, 48 feet back with iron rails on roof, and on interior "Entry and Back Parlor Wainscoted a Dental Cornish and Several Roomes paperred—Staircase Ramp Twist and Wainscoted One Story With Carved Brackets." Contributionship loose survey 759-760, May 3, 1762. Photograph of house, taken in 1855, is in Evans Print Collection of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and is reproduced by permission of the Society.

Illustration No. 14. PRESIDENTIAL MANSION. This watercolor of the former presidential mansion, done by W. L. Breton around 1830 two or three years before the building was demolished, depicts a house similar to Franklin's, although the facade's pedimented windows and elaborate double doorway are more highly styled than was customary in the Philadelphia of that day. Courtesy of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Illustration No. 15. MUSICAL FIGURES on parlor ceiling of Belmont, built by William Peters during 1742-43, may date to occupancy of son, Richard Peters. Note high relief. Photograph reproduced from Philip B. Wallace's Colonial Houses, Philadelphia Pre-Revolutionary Period, p. 128.

Illustration No. 16. CLIVEDEN, BENJAMIN CHEW'S HOUSE, scene of bitter fighting during battle of Germantown, was built at same time as Franklin's. Photograph reproduced from Philip B. Wallace's Colonial Houses, Philadelphia Pre-Revolutionary Period, p. 166.

Illustration No. 17. RAIN CATCHER of English pedigree is typical of those employed on Philadelphia houses, Franklin's probably included. Vogue persisted with no change in design throughout century. Reproduced from drawing in Marjorie & C.H.B. Quennell's A History of Everyday Things in England, III, 161.

Illustration No. 18. WATER CLOSETS of the type known to Franklin are from Quennell, p. 97. He had undoubtedly come to know this convenience while staying at fine houses in England.

Illustration No. 19. FRANKLIN'S BATH from descriptions appears to have been in addition to house, probably adjacent to areaway. Benjamin Rush claimed it "smoothed the descent of Dr. Franklin down the hill of life and helped prolong it beyond 84 years." Thomas Cope, visiting in late 1780s, "occasionally found Franklin seated in a bath tub his body covered with a wrapper spread over the tub, his head and neck free" (MSS Journal at Haverford College, VI). Three figures shown are from manuscript in Dickinson Papers at Library Company, entitled "Description of tepid Bath made use of his Excellency, Benjamin Franklin, Governor of Pennsylvania, LLD. FRS. &c.," accompanied by following legend:

Dec.r 12 1787

Fig: 1. A represents the Bath, which is made of white Cedar abt. 1 1/2 Inch thick: It is bound with Iron Hoops; it is 5F: 15 In: long, 2F: 5 In: wide, and 2F: deep, —B, is a large Sponge, suspended over the Edge in a Towel to rest the Head on. —C, is a Cock for hot water, D for cold water.—E for a Bell.—F for a Slider, through which the Servants on the outside receive their orders.—G a Board crossing the Bath to rest the Feet against.—The water is drawn off by a Syphon.—

Fig: 2 represents the ground Plan of Bath—Room, which is kept uniformly warm in the Chinese manner.—The Floor is laid with Flags, or broad flat Stones.—Fire is made at A, and the Smoke and rarified Air pass in the angular channel finding Vent at B.—

Fig: 3 An elevation of the Fire Place and Chimney. To heat the Room a Fire is made at A, but the smoke does not pass into the proper Duct, till a small Fire be made on the Grate at B, which, when the Door at B is shut, rarifies the Air above, and must be succeeded by a Current rushing from the passage, in the Direction explained in Fig: 2., —through the Grate at B. —The Fire at B is then taken out, and the Fire at A continues to burn.—

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Last Updated: 30-Jun-2008