Betsy Ross House

239 Arch St Philadelphia

VAMONDE Philadelphia
Written By VAMONDE Philadelphia

Betsy Ross House

The Betsy Ross House is located in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia and is claimed to be the site where the seamstress and flag-maker, Betsy Ross, lived when she would have sewed the first American Flag. The origins of the Betsy Ross myth trace back to her relatives, particularly her grandsons, William and George Canby, and the celebrations of the Centennial of 1876. Evidence for the precise location of Ross' home came from verification provided by several surviving family members, although archival evidence indicates the house next to the one that still stands today would have been The Betsy Ross House. Although the house is a major tourist site in Philadelphia, the claim that Ross once lived there, and that she designed and sewed the first American flag, sometimes called the Betsy Ross flag, are considered false by most historians.

The house sits on Arch Street, several blocks from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. The front part of the house was completed in 1740 while the rear was added 10-20 years later. This house is built in the Pennsylvania colonial style. If she had lived here, Betsy Ross would have stayed at this house from 1776 until 1779.

Restoration

Over the years, various structural changes and general wear and tear left the house in need of restoration. In 1937, A. Atwater Kent offered up $25,000 for the restoration of the house and commissioned historical architect Richardson Brognard Okie to design these efforts. The restoration focused on keeping original elements whenever possible and replaced important sections such as the front stairway and doorway. Materials for these replacements were sourced from demolished period homes. Kent purchased two of the properties next to the house to create a "civic garden" that would be adjacent to the house. In 1941, the entire property was gifted to the city of Philadelphia. In 1965 an annex building was added to the property, and in 1974 the courtyard was renovated and a fountain added.

In preparation for the United States Bicentennial in 1976, remains that were determined to be those of Betsy and her third husband, John Claypoole, were moved to graves in the courtyard. A private nonprofit organization, Historic Philadelphia began managing the site and continues to oversee operations to this day.

The Betsy Ross House has long been the site of Philadelphia's observance of Flag Day. Take a look at the celebration shown in the video below:

Information sourced from Wikipedia. Cover image by Beyond My Ken and sourced from Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).

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