Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Benjamin Franklin in Craven Street
So here's the current state of play as regards my latest house.
Number 36 Craven Street, an unassuming Georgian terraced house which just a few years ago was in a dire state of delapidation, has the honour of being the only surviving home of Benjamin Franklin, statesman, diplomat, writer, philosopher and all round good American egg.
Franklin shipped up at this house, then owned by one Mrs Stevenson, on July 26, 1757 when he was 51. There he lived on and off for the next 16 years, occupying the first floor rooms. His long-suffering wife, Deborah, was averse to sea crossings and stayed behind at their Philadelphia home.
The Stevensons became Franklin's surrogate family, in particular the daughter of the house, Polly, with whom he corresponded regularly when away.
Franklin was sought out by the leading radical politicians of the day and his first floor suite of rooms became a focus for American dissidents, philosophers and writers.
Polly married in 1770 and her husband, a doctor, ran a private anatomy school in the house.
All in all No. 36 must have had quite a buzz about it.
So I have decided to feature some of the occupants in the windows to try to give an impression of that buzz:
Things are still a bit fluid and I still have to find places for several more characters in this almost theatrical line-up.
More about them, their doings - and the recent discovery of human bones in the garden - in my next post!