Interesting Facts about Betsy Ross House

Among the many famous and historic homes in the United States, the Betsy Ross House ranks in the top few, for it is said to be the birthplace of the country’s first American Flag. Here are some interesting facts about the Betsy Ross House:

  • The facade of the building dates back to the 1740s, decades before the period where Betsy Ross is believed to have lived in.
  • The house was said to be visited by President George Washington, and Founding Father George Ross Jr and Robert Morris. The three was said to have visited the house where they had asked Betsy Ross to design and sew the very first American flag.
  • There is no definitive proof to conclude that Betsy Ross had lived in the house, or that the first American flag was produced in the house.
  • Prior to its establishment as a public museum, the Betsy Ross house was once a private residence, tailor shop, cigar store, and a tavern.
  • The house is said to be haunted by the ghost of Betsy Ross. The paranormal activities surfaced after the remains of Betsy Ross was moved to the house’s courtyard in 1975.

History of Betsy Ross House

The Betsy Ross House is a historical landmark famed for being the place where flag-maker Betsy Ross sewed the country’s first American Flag. The historic residence is also colloquially referred to as the “Birthplace of the Old Glory,” where “Old Glory” is the nickname for the flag of the United States.

However, the Betsy Ross House have received much controversy as the actual house was determined based on verification from surviving relatives of Betsy Ross instead of archival evidence from local records. Others have contented that while Betsy Ross and her husband have lived in the house for over three years, they were merely tenants and bear no ownership to the property. The 1937 Philadelphia Guide also noted that the adjacent building where the Betsy Ross House is today may have in fact be the house where the famed seamstress and flag-maker had lived. However, the building was later demolished to reduce the risks of a potential fire spreading to the historic landmark.

Illustration of the American Flag being presented by Betsy Ross | Image credits: History Channel

Adding on, many local historians have debated the issue of whether Betsy Ross was the maker of the country’s first American Flag. The claim was first made in 1870 during a Historical Society of Pennsylvania event where Betsy Ross’s grandson William Canby asserted that her grandmother had produced the American Flag.

During the 19th century, the property was owned by a German immigrant family who capitalized on its history and posted a sign outside reading “First Flag of the US Made in this House”, all while running multiple businesses in the building.

Betsy Ross House in the early 20th century. | Image credits: shorpy.com

However, the industralization of properties along Arch Street led to concerns that the historic house would suffer a fate and be torn down to build warehouses and factories. In 1898, the American Flag House and subsequently the Betsy Ross memorial Association was formed to raise funds for the purchase of the house. With the sale of lifetime memberships, each imprinted with an image of the Birth of Our Nation’s Flag, the organizations was able to buy over the historic property and convert it into a public museum.

Over the years, several restoration and expansion projects were conducted on the site. In 1937, historical architect Richardson Brognard Okie was commissioned to conduct a restoration of the house. The project, which was funded by Philadelphia radio mogul Arthur Atwater Kent, involved the reconstruction of the building’s facade with materials salvaged from period homes in the area. Two properties adjacent to Betsy Ross House was later purchased to develop a courtyard for the historic property. On June 14, 1937, the house opened to the public for the first time as a museum. Just four years later, the entire site was gifted by Mr. Arthur to the City of Philadelphia.

Betsy Ross House | Image credits: nbcphiladelphia.com

In the lead-up to the 1976 United States Bicentennial, the purported remains of Betty Ross and her third husband John Claypoole were moved to the garden in the property. Today, the Betsy Ross House is actively managed by local non-profit organization Historic Philadelphia, which have been managing the site since 1995. The historic residences offers several exhibits including “Stitching the Story Together” and “Woman at Work in Revolutionary America”.

The property, which is now the default venue for Philadelphia’s observance of Flag Day, is now one of the most visited residential property in Philadelphia.

Hauntings at Betsy Ross House

The historic Betsy Ross House is said to be haunted by the famous flagmaker who once lived in the century-old building. The ghost of Betsy Ross is often seen wandering along the hallways of the house. On multiple occasions, visitors have reported hearing the sobbing voice of a woman within the house. However, the source was never found.

The basement of the gift shop next to Betsy Ross House is also said to be haunted by paranormal entities. The story speaks of an argument between two security guards that escalated to a shootout, leading to the death of one of the guards.

In 2009, the house was investigated by the The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) team as part of the fifth season premiere of popular paranormal show “Ghost Hunters”. During the investigation, host Jason Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson captured the sound of a man coming from a room at the attic of the house. At the end of the conclusion, the TAPS team concluded that the historic landmark is festered with ghostly apparitions, albeit all of them were harmless and should not be feared.

Where Is Betsy Ross House Located?

The address of Betsy Ross House is 239 Arch Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The historical building is in close proximity to several other tourist attraction including the Liberty Bell, the Independence Hall, and the Philadelphia Historical Museum.

To visit the Betsy Ross House from the Liberty Bell, head westbound along Chestnut Street for approximately 0.2 miles before turning left into S 3rd Street. From there, walk for 0.3 miles till you reach Arch Street. Turn right into Arch Street and you should see Betsy Ross House located across the street. The historic house is marked by a “Betsy Ross House” signpost and the flag of the United States of America.

Admission to Betsy Ross House cost $7 for adults and $6 for children, seniors, students, and military personnels. An audio tour is also available for an additional two dollars.

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