6043 Germantown Avenue
Shippen-Blair House (The Laurens)
Top: HSP: Campbell
Collection, vol. 35, p. 1: "6043 Germantown Ave. Copy of a
photograph taken in 1859" (oval shaped image, view from the south
showing one-story additions on the southeast side of the
John G. Bullock Collection, number 67: (undated lantern slide)
"6043 Blair House. In 1851 owned by Charlotte Cushman the
actress" (view from West Walnut Lane).
1982 National Register of Historic
Places Inventory for Colonial Germantown Historic
"(SEC Walnut Lane) Shippen-Blair House, part possibly built by
Dr. Christoper Witt [died 1765], before 1789, three and one-half
stories, stone with wood trim, a handsome Federal style building
with rubble side walls and foundation and ashlar front, Federal
style. --- Significant."
This property was part of Lot 18, belonging first to Andreas
Souplis and then to Christian Warmer in the earliest days of
Germantown. The Shippen-Blair house may be the first three story
house in Germantown. Dr. William Shippen purchased the
property in 1775; his son-in-law Rev. Dr. Blair, later President
of Princeton, also lived in the house. The battle of Germantown
left traces in the woodwork, and Mrs. Washington was entertained
here when the Washingtons resided in Germantown. In the 1820's
Dr. George Junkin operated his Manual Labor School here before he
became President of Lafayette College.
Ownership changed hands a number of times in the nineteenth
century. For a time it was a branch of Col. Alexander's city
hotel; an 1842 insurance survey details not only the mansion,
but also another two-story building, a large greenhouse,
washhouse, and a barn complex including cow and horse stables, a
dung shed, a threshing floor, a wagon house and a coach house.
After actress Charlotte Cushman purchased the property for her
residence in 1851, she opened up several streets. During the
last decades of the century, the property was a boarding house
owned by George W. Carpenter and run by Miss Mary Burkhard.
- GHS: Jellett, Edwin C. "Germantown Historical
Miscellany," pp. 319-20 (images).
- GHS: Jellet/Ref 1-1/9/photocopy pp. 107-109:
- p. 107 (from south, with fire escape stairs on
- p. 108 (from south, c. 1850)
- p. 109 (from north).
- GHS: Keyser, Naaman. Notes for v. 2 (north of Chelten),
History of Old Germantown, p. 49: "6043" (unpublished typewritten
- GHS: Photo Box 2, envelope 2, 1962 (photograph of house
as Rittenhouse Records Stationers, prior to reconstruction).
- GHS: Photo Box 5, envelope 8 (two views by John
- GHS: Photo Box N, envelope 13: various views and
measured drawings exchanged between Judge Saylor and Miss Jane
- GHS: Photo Scrapbook 8: HABS survey, compiled by G.C.
Johnson (7 sheets of plans and measured drawings).
- HSP: Campbell Collection, vol. 35, pp. 1-2: 6043
Germantown Avenue/The Laurens/Blair Academy (photographs,
including the one above, and manuscript text).
Mutual/Green Tree Insurance Policies 5082 (house) and 4615 (barn)
for Geo. W. Carpenter, NE side Germantown Ave. between High and
- HSP: Perkins Collection, vol. 61D, p. 70: Laurens no.
6043 (photo and manuscript
- HSP: Shoemaker Collection, folios 9 and 32: Miss
Burkhard's boarding house, once Rev. Blair's (photos and manuscript text dated
John G. Bullock Collection, numbers 66-68 (lantern slides):
- number 66: "Blair
House, main & Walnut, neg 1908. Built 1775 by Dr. Wm Shippen,
occupied also by his son-in-law; Rev. Sam'l Blair afterward
President of Princeton University" (image is disintegrating; view
from across and down Germantown Avenue).
- number 67: (undated) "6043
Blair House. In 1851 owned by Charlotte Cushman the actress"
(view from West Walnut Lane).
- number 68: "Doorway to
Blair House 1916, formerly in Bensel House."
- PHC: Franklin Fire Insurance Policy 779 3884/3885 (survey and site plan of
mansion house and back buildings).
- PHC: Iwanicki, Edwin. "The Laurens" (clipped article, probably from the
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