Shippen-Blair House, "The Laurens"
6043 Germantown Avenue

Naaman Keyser, Manuscript Notes for v. 2 (north of Chelten), History of Old Germantown, p. 49
Germantown Historical Society

Included are unpublished typewritten notes:

Watson speaks of this having been the property and residence of Dr. Christopher Witt (Annals, vol. 2, p. 32) It is supposed that it was the first three-story building built in Germantown. Its original appearance has been much altered. The beautiful colonial doorway formerly belonged to the Bensell house at the corner of School House Lane. When that house was torn down this doorway was purchased and removed to its present location.

"Dr William Shippen gave this house, together with 57 acres of land, to his daughter Susanna, when she married Rev. Dr. Samuel Blair. It was largely through the influence of Dr. Blair that the First Presbyterian Church was established, the congregation for a time holding services in this house. Dr. Blair afterwards became President of Princeton College.

"In 1829, the place became the property of the Manual Labor Academy Association. It was the first Manual Training School in the United States, and was organized by Rev. Dr. George Junkin, in 1830. The school also occupied a number of frame buildings and a large farm in the rear. The experiment failed after a trial of twenty months. Dr. Junkin was called to the presidency of Lafayette College, at Easton, in 1832, and nearly all of the students followed him...daughter, Eleanor, married Thomas J. Jackson, who afterwards won renown as the famous 'Stonewall' Jackson of the Confederate army.

"In 1832 the property was purchased by James Ogilbe, who named it Congress Hall and made some changes in order to better fit it for the purposes of a hotel.

"Joseph Murter remembers that when the Indian Chief Black Hawk visited Philadelphia on his way from Washington, he and his companions were entertained at this hotel. A number of the people of Germantown presented them with wearing apparel, and Mr. Schaeffer, the hatter, presented them with hats. This was in the year 1833..."

"After a time the place changed proprietors, and it was conducted as a branch of a city hotel under the name of "Our House." In 1851 it was owned by the celebrated actress, Charlotte Cushman. For several years past it has been a popular boarding house, and known as the 'Laurens.'"

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