Betsy Ross House
|Betsy Ross House|
|Location||239 Arch Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
The Betsy Ross House is a landmark in Philadelphia where the seamstress and flag-maker Betsy Ross, (1752-1836), purportedly lived when legend says she made the first American Flag. By 1876, several surviving family members said this was the location. Although the house is one of the most visited tourist sites in Philadelphia, the claim that Ross once lived there, and that she designed and sewed the first American flag are considered apocryphal.
The house sits on Arch Street, several blocks from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The front part of the building was built around 1740, in the Pennsylvania colonial style, with the stair hall and the rear section added 10 to 20 years later. Ross would have lived here after the 1776 death of her first husband, John Ross, until about 1779.
Over the years, various structural changes and general wear and tear left the house in dire need of restoration. In 1937, Philadelphia radio mogul, A. Atwater Kent offered up to $25,000 for the restoration of the house and commissioned historical architect Richardson Brognard Okie to do the work. Original elements were kept wherever possible. Otherwise, materials from demolished period homes were used. A new structure was added in the rear, made from period bricks. The front stairway and dormer were entirely replaced. The front doorway was moved to the opposite corner, and a new window was installed. Kent then purchased the two adjacent properties to develop a "civic garden." In 1941, the entire property, including the historic house and courtyard, were given 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, remains deemed to be those of Ross and her third husband, John Claypoole, were moved to graves in the courtyard. A private nonprofit organization, Historic Philadelphia, Inc., began leasing the property from the City of Philadelphia in 1995 and continues to manage the site to this day.
- "Was This Her House?" on usahistory.org Accessed 16 May 2011. Ross was born Elizabeth Phoebe Griscom, and later married as Elizabeth Ashburn and Elizabeth Claypoole. "The contemporary historical evidence, therefore, shows that the Claypoole residence of 1785, "335 Arch Street," is now located at either 239 Arch Street or 241 Arch Street."
- Official website
- Carr, Andrew. "The Betsy Ross House," American History 37.3 (Aug 2002): 23.
- Leepson, Marc. "Five myths about the American flag", Washington Post, (June 12, 2011)
- "Corrections", Philadelphia Inquirer (November 22, 2005)
- Gammage, Jeff (2008-06-14). "Flag Day loses importance but lives on in Phila". Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2008-06-20. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
- Official website
- Flag: An American Biography
- Betsy Ross House at UShistory.org
- "Site Where Mrs. Elizabeth Ross made the First American Flag" at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania
- Photo ca. 1900