Reverence for the President
Resplendent Christ Church: A Marvel 323 Years in the Making
Miller, Cynthia L. “George Washington’s Pew in Christ Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.” 5 September 2015. JPEG File.
Imagine walking with black-booted or black-patented heels on cobblestones on 2nd Street in the epicenter of eighteenth-century Philadelphia, on a Sunday morning, hearing the echo of the contact of heel with stone with each step you take heading for Christ Church. Upon entering its hallowed grounds, pause and steal a glance upward at the tall spire (from 1754), once considered the tallest in the colonies. And open your ears to hear the peeling of the bell, beckoning worshippers to its weighty sanctuary for a service with the Reverend William White.
Christ Church, founded in 1695 during the reign of King William III and Queen Mary of England, was operational as of 1744 – and still thrives today.
Once inside cross the sanctuary threshold and walk to Pew 58. Marked by a brass plate, Pew 58 is the special, red-velvet-cushioned pew reserved for President George Washington and his wife Martha during the first decade of his governance of the newly-formed United States. Sit in Pew 58 and marvel at feelings evoked, imaginings of times past and the perspective the Washingtons had as they, themselves, sat in church services alongside other observers.
Though your real experience is to think about being a worshipper just prior to the commencement of the service. Take a look around, in front and behind you. See the rector’s chair, the elaborate tapestried governor’s chair, and take in the “wineglass” pulpit made locally by John Folwell in 1770. Then, look up to the chandelier still in use after having been brought from England in 1744. See the other pews in your vantage point in which people such as John Adams, Benjamin Franklin as well as George Washington, during the early years of the Republic, would have sat. And, finally, look diagonally to your right. Docents have explained that services during President Washington’s time would not begin until he and his wife entered through the double-doors on the right of the transept. Minister and congregants would need to stand, in reverence, to await President Washington’s and Mrs Washington’s entrance, and, further await their settling into Pew 58. Only then could everyone sit and the opening of the service take place.
The Church Burial Ground, located on the left side of Arch Street, between 4th and 5thStreets, is worth a visit, and the Church Archives are invaluable for genealogical searches.
2nd Street above Market
Philadelphia, PA 19106
215-922-1695; fax 215-922-3578
Sundays: 9 and 11 a.m.; choral Evensongs
Wednesdays: 12 – 12:30; 6 – 6:30 p.m. with organ
Visitor Hours (through May 7th)
Mondays to Saturdays: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Sundays: 12:30 – 5 p.m.
Christ Church Burial Ground
N 5th St & Arch St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Georgian Elegance and Secrets in Silhouette
The Powel House: Eighteenth-century Propriety and Prestige
Miller, Cynthia L. “The Powel House Door and Doorknocker in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.” 5 September 2015. JPEG File.
Walk into the townhome on South Third Street and become captivated by the Georgian splendor and elegance of what was once one of the most prestigious (and, currently, one of the most haunted) residences in Philadelphia. Inhabited by Samuel Powel (1739-1793) and his wife Elizabeth (1742-1830), 244 South Third Street was the ‘in’ place to be, throughout the mid- to latter half of the eighteenth century.
Samuel Powel was the city mayor under British rule and the first after the states were officially united. His position meant Samuel and Elizabeth Powel had the ear of the eminent (expressly so of George Washington) and were ‘movers and shakers’ amongst elite society, entertaining Continental Congress delegates quite lavishly via ‘sinful’ feasts, according to John Adams.
The Powel house is a veritable study in gorgeous symmetry and balance; the decorative arts within hold some of the best-kept secrets in the city, particularly through the interior archway, one of the defining features of this dwelling. Benjamin Franklin once said, “three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” Long-dead are the patrons of this architectural masterpiece, but period keepsakes in the house ache to tell their secrets. Samuel Powel’s hobby was that of crafting silhouettes, some of which (including of George Washington and Ben Franklin!) flank walls in the withdrawing room and convey volumes of the Powels’ status.
Also, not to be missed, is the 1770 David Rittenhouse clock welcoming visitors to the top of the Powel House stairs. Rittenhouse, foremost clockmaker, astronomer and mathematician of his day, was a great friend to many society-hopping Philadelphians and Congressional delegates. During your visit focus on this clock to see the Latin-inscribed, glass-enclosed commands that arc the moon dial: “Nemo omnibus horis sapit,” and “Tempus fugit.” Whether Mr Powel was a Freemason, he entertained many who were, and, certainly, these phrases would have resonated. Also, “Tempus Fugio” was included on some of our early coinage.
Finally, one of your last stops in the house must be the elaborately pilastred, rococo-ceilinged and wainscoted ballroom, in which George and Martha Washington celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary and in which other contemporaries such as Thomas Jefferson and Franklin graced the space with spirited dancing. If those silhouettes could speak…
244 South Third Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Public tours are available on the hour 11:00 AM through 3:00 PM
(last tour) Thursday-Saturday April-November
Additional Wednesdays Memorial Day through end of October
(11 AM - 3 PM)
12:00 to 3:00 PM (last tour) on Sundays
Weekends only (Saturday/Sunday) in March and December.
*Last two weekends of December closed.
January and February by appointment only.
Please call 215-627-0364 to schedule.
All other times by appointment.
$8 General admission
$6 Students and Seniors
$20 per Family
Free for all PhilaLandmarks Members
Groups of 10 or more may tour the house by appointment, with group rates available.
School groups should contact our executive director at 215.925.2251 ext 200
NOTE: Open hours may be limited due to special events. Please call 215-627-0364 to check availability. RSVPs are always welcome.
A Scientific Swing and a Never-Miss
Foucault’s Pendulum: The Philadelphia Experiment
Miller, Cynthia L. “Foucault’s Pendulum at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.” 22 January 2016. JPEG File.
Two years and a century after Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was awarded the prestigious British Royal Society Copley Medal for his scientific achievements with electricity, Jean Bernard Léon Foucault (1819 – 1868) was similarly honored for his research in experimental physics. Both men were Fellows of the Society and fascinated by the sciences – though, while Foucault focused on planetary motion, Franklin dabbled in it. Each man had a close tie to France – Foucault was born in Paris, and Franklin, for all his time spent there, was heralded as an adopted son.
Similarities primarily end there; though, it seems fitting that a life-size replica of Foucault’s grand pendulum experiment is showcased in The Franklin Institute.
A recreation of Foucault’s Pendulum launches into action diurnally at 9:30 am EST. The 85-foot pendulum cord hangs from the 4th Floor and is viewable from the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Floors in ‘Pendulum Staircase,’ to the right of the ticket counters.
Rooted in trigonometry rather than astronomical observations, Foucault’s Pendulum offers irrefutable proof that the Earth rotates on its axis. Introduced in the Meridian of the Paris Observatory in 1851 and later exhibited at the Panthéon, this pendulum has been mimicked and displayed around the world, but The Franklin Institute is the only Philadelphia location to house this model – one of nine locations in Pennsylvania.
The Franklin Institute pendulum and steel bob begin ‘movement’ in a North-South clockwise direction (South Pole pendula move counterclockwise; equatorial pendula remain static.), in a ‘back-and-forth’ motion, acting as surrogate for the spinning Earth, knocking a succession of over 1000 pounds of lead-shot, aluminum pegs, every 20-25 minutes, within a travertine mosaic, oscillating floor base. By 5:00 pm EST, half of the pegs will have overturned. While the Earth spins on its axis, the pendulum illustrates this effect above-ground for curious onlookers. Great imagination is required to consider that the pendulum is not really moving (the base is stationary.), but that, it is we who are moving, with the building and rotating Earth. An illusion of Newtonian physics of the first order!
Although Foucault’s Pendulum is a global phenomenon, it is a marvel that could be missed, with the magnetism of equally-intriguing scientific novelties throughout The Franklin Institute museum walls.
The Franklin Institute science museum is located in Center City Philadelphia, at the intersection of 20th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The museum's parking garage entrance is located behind the building at the intersection of 21st Street and Winter Street.
The GPS address of the museum parking garage entrance is:
The Franklin Institute
GENERAL MUSEUM HOURS
9:30am to 5:00pm
SPECIAL EXHIBIT HOURS
9:30am to 8:00pm
Includes access to all permanent Franklin Institute exhibition galleries such as Your Brain, The Giant Heart, Sir Isaac’s Loft, and some Special Events which require additional tickets. In addition, all General Admission tickets come with access to the Fels Planetarium.
Open Daily 9:30am – 5:00pm
Ages 2 and under are free.
ADULT General Admission (ages 12+): $23.00
CHILD General Admission (ages 3-11): $19.00
*Additional Fee **Last admission at 6:30pm
ESOMAR Article 2017
"Battle for the Brain
People exploration in the year 2087," short story written for, published by, and presented by Cynthia Lynn Miller for the ESOMAR 2017 Congress
"Love is a mighty pretty thing; but like all other delicious things, it is cloying; and when the first transports of the passion begins to subside, which it assuredly will do, and yield, oftentimes too late, to more sober reflections, it serves to evince, that love is too dainty a food to live upon alone, and ought not to be considered farther than as a necessary ingredient for that matrimonial happiness which results from a combination of causes." George Washington in a letter to his step-granddaughter, Eliza Parke Custis; Sunday, September, 14 1794.
"⟨My dear Nelly,
In one respect, I have complied fully with my promise to you, in another I have deviated from it in a small degree. I have given you letter for letter, but not with the promptitude I intended; your last of the 29th ult. having lain by me several days unacknowledged. This, however might reasonably have been expected from the multiplicity of my⟩ business.
Your letter, the receipt of which I am now acknowledging, is written correctly, and in fair characters; which is an evidence that you command, when you please, a fair hand. Possessed of these advantages, it will be your own fault if you do not avail yourself of them: and attention being paid to the choice of your subjects, you can have nothing to fear from the malignancy of criticism, as your ideas are lively, and your descriptions agreeable. Your sentences are pretty well pointed, but you do not as ⟨is proper begin a new paragraph when you change your subject. Attend to these hints and you will deserve more credit from a few lines well adjusted and written in a fair hand, then for a whole sheet scribbled over as if to fill or [ ] the bottom of the paper, was the principal [ ] or design of the letter.
I make these remarks not from your letter to me, but because many of those to your Grandmama appear to have been written in too much haste; and because this is the time to form your character, improve your diction."
"Let her marry, and what is the consequence? The madness ceases and all is quiet again: Why? not because there is any diminuation in the charm of the lady but because there is an end of hope. Hence it follows that love may and therefore that it ought to be under the guidance of reason. For although we cannot avoid first impressions, we may assuredly place them under guard; and my motives in treating on this subject are to show you “whilst you remain Eleanor [Parke] Custis [Spinster], and retain the resolution to love with moderation” the propriety of adhering to the latter; at least until you have secured your game, and the way by which it is to be accomplished.
When the fire is beginning to kindle, and your heart growing warm, propound these questions to it. Who is this invader? Have I competent knowledge of him? Is he a man of good character? A man of sense? for be assured a sensible woman can never be happy with a fool. What has been his walk in life? Is he a gambler? a spendthrift, a drunkard? Is his fortune sufficient to maintain me in the manner I have been accustomed to live, and my sisters do live? and is he one to whom my friends can have no reasonable objections? If these interogations can be satisfactorily answered there will remain but one more to be asked; that however is an important one. Have I sufficient ground to conclude that his affections are enjoyed by me? Without this, the heart of sensibility will struggle against a passion that is not reciprocated; delicacy, custom, or call it by what epithet you will having precluded all advances on your part, the declaration without the most indirect invitation on yours must proceed from the man to render it permanent & valuable. And nothing short of good sense, and an easy unaffected conduct can draw the line between prudery & coquetry; both of which are equally despised by men of understanding; and soon or late, will recoil upon the actor."
George Washington in a letter to his step-granddaughter, Eleanor Parke Custis; 21 March 1796.
" I cannot live without books; but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, June 10, 1815
"I am just setting out on a journey of three months to the South of France." – Thomas Jefferson to Elizabeth House Trist, February 23, 1787
As I am within a few Minutes of leaving this City, I could not think of departing from it without dropping you a line; especially as I do not know whether it may be in my power to write again till I get to the Camp at Boston—I go fully trusting in that Providence, which has been more bountiful to me than I deserve, & in full confidence of a happy meeting with you sometime in the Fall—I have not time to add more, as I am surrounded with Company to take leave of me—I retain an unalterable affection for you, which neither time or distance can change, my best love to Jack & Nelly, & regard for the rest of the Family concludes me with the utmost truth & sincerity.” Letter from George Washington to Martha Washington, Philadelphia; June 23rd, 1775.
“It is with real pain I oppose myself to your passion for the lanthern, and that in a matter of taste, I differ from a professor in his own art. but the object of the artist is lost if he fails to please the general eye. you know my reverence for the Graecian & Roman style of architecture. I do not
believe recollect ever to have seen in their buildings a single instance of a lanthern, Cupola, or belfry. I have ever supposed the Cupola an Italian invention, produced by the introduction of bells on the churches, and one of the instances of degeneracy in degeneracies of modern architecture. I confess they are most offensive to my eye, and a particular observation has strengthened my disgust at them. in the project for the central part of the Capitol which you were so kind as to give me, there is something of this kind on the crown of the dome. the drawing was exhibited for the view of the members, in the president’s house, and the disapprobation of that feature in the drawing was very general. on the whole I cannot be afraid of having our dome like that of the Pantheon, on which had a lanthern been placed it [w]ould never have obtained that degree of admiration in which it is now held by the world.” Part of a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Monticello; Apr. 22. 1807.
“…And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day…” William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act IV, Scene III
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