6043 Germantown Avenue
Shippen-Blair House (The Laurens)

1859 view

ca. 1916 view

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 house).
Bottom: LCP: 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 District:
"(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.

Additional Sources:

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