Last updated: April 4, 2022
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The Philander Chase Knox home has traditionally been known as the site of Maxwell's quarters, since Brigadier General William Maxwell, commander of the New Jersey Brigade, established his headquarters near this site during the Valley Forge encampment. A small section of the house may have stood during the encampment.
From 1774 to 1854 the property belonged to John Brown and his heirs. In 1854 it was purchased by a local industrialist, who needed to control the water flow of nearby Valley Creek for his mill. By 1893 the property had changed hands at least six times before Edward and Amanda Mathews made it their home. The Mathews, who had become millionaires from the California gold rush, remodeled the 18th century home into a Queen Ann-style estate, complete with swimming pool, bath house, and tennis courts.
Two years after Edward Mathew's death in 1901, the property was sold to then U.S. Attorney General Philander Chase Knox. P.C. Knox served as Attorney General under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. He also served as Secretary of State under President William Howard Taft. As Attorney General, he was noted for his "trust busting" suit of Northern Securities Company. As Secretary of State from 1909 to 1913, he promoted policies aimed at increasing US trade abroad.
P.C. Knox purchased the property to provide a weekend retreat from Washington D.C. and give his eldest son, Reed, a place to breed horses. When his daughter, Rebekah, married James Tindle, President Theodore Roosevelt was a guest for the ceremonies and spent the night at the house.
After Knox retired in 1913, he began to change the house from a Queen Ann-style to the Colonial Revival you see today. In 1965 the house was sold to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and became a part of Valley Forge State Park. In 1976 Valley Forge State Park became Valley Forge National Historical Park.
Today, the P.C. Knox estate is leased by the National Park Service to a for-profit partner, and currently functions as an event venue. Learn more about commercial leasing here.