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    National Historical Park Pennsylvania

Germantown White House

The Germantown White House is currently closed. The building will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays from June 28 - September 1.

 
Windsor chairs surround a round table near a fireplace.
The Germantown White House, home to President Washington during the yellow fever epidemic, 1793
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Twice this house sheltered George Washington. In 1793, he took refuge here from the deadly yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. The following summer, it was a welcome retreat from the heat of the capital city. Also known as the Deshler-Morris House, the home gets it name from its first and last owners. David Deshler built the home beginning in 1752. Elliston P. Morris donated it to the National Park Service in 1948. Today, the home has been restored to its 18th century appearance. Interactive exhibits in the nearby Bringhurst House provide a glimpse into the life of Washington and his household, including his enslaved servants.

 
Germantown White House exterior, a three story home with end chimneys.

Ironically, Washington's nemesis, British General William Howe, occupied this home during the Revolutionary War, October 1777.

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Construction and Ownership
David Deshler constructed a four room summer cottage on this lot in 1752. Twenty years later, he added a three story, nine room addition to the front. Colonel Isaac Franks purchased this elegant home from the Deshler heirs in 1792. Colonel Franks rented this home to President Washington in the fall of 1793 and the summer of 1794. The house was later sold to Elliston and John Perot. In 1834, Elliston's son-in-law, Samuel Morris, purchased the home. In 1948, the Morris family donated the house to the National Park Service.

 
Portrait of George Washington in left profile.

George Washington, attributed to Ellen Sharples, after James Sharples Senior, c. 1796-1810

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Executive Mansion
From November 16 - 30, 1793, President George Washington lived in this rented home while Philadelphia remained under quarantine for yellow fever. Washington met with his cabinet here, and together, they conducted the nation's business and addressed issues of foreign policy. The following summer, President Washington returned with his family to enjoy the expansive gardens and orchards in this "fine airy place".
 
View of the open hearth in the Germantown White House kitchen.

Washington's enslaved cook, Hercules, prepared meals for the family in this kitchen.

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Washington's Household
President Washington lived in the home with his enslaved servants in the fall of 1793. The enslaved included Oney Judge, Austin, Moll and Hercules. The following summer, Washington returned with servants and his family, including wife Martha and step grandchildren. Moll attended to the grandchildren, Nelly and Young Wash. Oney Judge served as seamstress and personal servant to Martha Washington. Martha raised flowers, the President posed for painter Gilbert Stuart, and the family attended the German Reformed Church across the square from their house.
 
Chairs flank the fireplace in the parlor at the Germantown White House.

President Washington convened Cabinet meetings in the parlor.

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A Divided Cabinet
Differences of opinion defined the four cabinet meetings here between November 16 and November 30, 1793. Attending were Thomas Jefferson (State), Alexander Hamilton (Treasury), Henry Knox (War) and Edmund Randolph (Attorney General). Much of the discussion centered on issues raised by the war between France and Britain. Hamilton maintained that the Constitution gave the President and the Senate the right to make treaties, including a treaty of neutrality, referring to Washington's "Neutrality Proclamation". Jefferson viewed the proclamation as an infringement on the Congress' power to declare war.

Did You Know?

Photo of National Park Service with visitors at Liberty Bell

An old broken bell, imperfect, yet one of the most powerful symbols of liberty in the world, the Liberty Bell bears a timeless message, “Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants Thereof” (Leviticus, 25:10)