Friday, June 24, 2016

Shippen-Blair House

Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr., was my six times great uncle and son of Samuel Blair and Franjinke "Frances" van Hook, who were my six times great grandparents. Like his father, Samuel Blair, Jr., was an accomplished Presbyterian minister. He was a graduate of what is now Princeton University and had been a pastor at the Old South Church in Boston. During the Revolutionary War, he served as the chaplain of an artillery brigade and later as the chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives.

He married Susan Shippen on 23 September 1767 in Germantown, which is now a historic district in northwest Philadelphia. Susan was the daughter of Dr. William Shippen and Susan Harrison. Dr. Shippen was a physician, civic and educational leader, who represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress. Upon the marriage of his daughter, Susan, Dr. Shippen gave the couple the house at 6403 Germantown Avenue together with 57 acres.

The Shippen-Blair House, 6403 Germantown Avenue, undated lantern slide
courtesy of Bryn Mawr College

The house came to be known as the Shippen-Blair House. It was three and a half stories, stone with wood trim in the Federal style. The Revolutionary War battle of Germantown left traces in the woodwork and Mrs. Washington was entertained here when George Washington was in Germantown. The original property was thought to also house another two story building, a large greenhouse, a wash house, and a barn complex including cow and horse stables, a dung shed, a threshing floor, a wagon house and a coach house.

In 1832 the house was purchased by James Ogilbe, who operated it as Congress Hall, a hotel. When Chief Black Hawk stayed at the hotel the next year. In 1851 the house was owned by actress Charlotte Cushman and in the later part of the 1800s was a popular boardinghouse known as The Laurens.

The exterior of the house has been much altered since it was originally built.

Pray Together, Stay Together 
Revolutionary War Chaplain, Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr. 

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