Still Standing: 3 Houses + Places Where America Was Founded

Happy Fourth of July from Cool Houses Daily! In honor of this momentous day – marking the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 – we’re taking a look at three buildings that played an important role in America’s fight for independence from Great Britain. Join us on our historic architectural tour:

Photo by G. Widman for GPTMC Thomas Jefferson rented two rooms at this Philadelphia boarding house to write the Declaration of Independence.

Declaration House

Also known as the Graff House, this Georgian-style structure on the corner of 7th and Market Streets in Philadelphia is the site where Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence. Then a 33-year-old delegate from Virginia to the Continental Congress, Jefferson rented two second-floor rooms in the summer of 1776 to pen his historic words.

Photo courtesy, Independence National Historical Park The second-floor parlor and bedroom that Thomas Jefferson rented in 1776 have been recreated and appointed with period furniture.

Originally built in 1775 by bricklayer Jacob Graff, the red brick house was reconstructed in 1975. The first floor now contains exhibits and a short film; on the second floor, the bedroom and parlor that Jefferson occupied have been recreated and furnished with period pieces. The exhibit is open year round, though hours vary by season.

Photo by: iStockphoto/Thinkstock Both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

Independence Hall

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed in the Assembly Room of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, and the words were read aloud in the area now known as Independence Square. The U.S. Constitution was also adopted here in 1787.

Photo by: iStockphoto/Thinkstock Delegates from the 13 colonies gathered in Independence Hall’s Assembly Room to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

The centerpiece of the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, Independence Hall was built between 1732 and 1756 to be the Pennsylvania State House. At the time of its construction, it was the largest public building in Philadelphia. Its Georgian-style exterior is accentuated with marble keystones and a carved wooden cornice, while the wooden steeple once housed the Liberty Bell.

Photos by: G. Widman for GPTMC Seamstress Betsy Ross – widely credited with making the first American flag – lived in this Philadelphia home from 1776 to 1779.

Betsy Ross House

Built in 1760, the pint-sized Betsy Ross house in Philadelphia was home to the seamstress who is widely believed to have made the first Stars and Stripes flag used to celebrate independence in 1776. The structure is a variation of a “bandbox” style house, with one room on each floor and a staircase winding from the cellar to the upper levels. In the 18th century, the house was occupied by several other shopkeepers and artisans, including a shoemaker and an apothecary. Betsy Ross is said to have lived here from 1776 to 1779, and several family members said this is where she sewed the first flag.

Photo by: G. Widman for GPTMC An annex building was added to the Betsy Ross House property in 1965, and the courtyard was renovated in 1974.

The house was restored in the 1930s and given to the city of Philadelphia in 1941. Today, seven period rooms – including the only interpretation of an 18th-century upholstery shop in the country – are open to visitors. The house even hosts an Independence Day bash with crafts, a children’s naturalization ceremony and a ceremonial bell ringing.

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