0209 Mt Pleasant House Img89_24

Roll 89 Ektachrome 200 – 24 Mount Pleasant sign, Mt. Pleasant Dr., Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, PA. June 14, 1995. GPS Coordinates: 39.983333, -75.199722 Good

“Mount Pleasant”

“The Scottish privateer Captain John Macpherson sailed the Caribbean and made a fortune attacking French and Spanish ships. He built Mount Pleasant in 1761, in the rich Georgian style he remembered from home, and used it as his showplace.

John Adams wrote in 1775. ‘Rode out of Town and dined with Mr. Macpherson. He has the most elegant Seat in Pennsylvania, a clever Scotch Wife… He renews his Proposals of taking or burning Ships.’

Macpherson was a tireless entrepreneur. He bought and sold real estate, published a financial newspaper, complied the first City directory, raised crops and animals on his farm, and patented what he claimed to be a vermin-proof bed.

Benedict Arnold, extravagant and proud of his position as an American general, bought Mount Pleasant for his bridge, Peggy Ship-pen, in 1779. Before they could move in, Arnold’s corrupt financial deals with the British ended in the notorious betrayal of his country. The house was confiscated and he fled to England, never to return.

A later owner was Jonathan Williams, a great-nephew of Benjamin Franklin and, ironically, the first Superintendent of West Point, the scene of Arnold’s treachery.

The unknown craftsmen who built Mount Pleasant followed architectural plans and decorative motifs from British design books in use in colonial Philadelphia. Many of the same carvings can be seen at Independence Hall.

The main house has two almost identical facades, one on the west toward the Schuylkill River and one on the east toward the land route to town. This symmetry is typical of Georgian design and is found inside where false doors balance real doorways.

Acquired by the City in 1868, it was restored in 1926 and again in 1976. Owned and maintained by the Fairmount Park Commission in cooperation with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, it is furnished with fine examples of furniture made by eighteenth century cabinetmakers who used Thomas Chippendale’s design book.”

Under upper left photo:
“Captain John Macpherson”

Under lower left photo:
“Mary Ann Macpherson, portrait by Charles Willson Peale.”

Above lower left drawing:
“Elevations from James Gibbs’s Book of Architecture, London 1728.”

Under middle right portrait:
“Benedict Arnold”

Under lower right photo:
“Jonathan Williams”

Posted by DJEPS on 2014-11-02 21:59:15

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