The Betsy Ross House is one of Philadelphia's biggest tourist attractions. Reputedly the house that Betsy Ross lived in when she sewed the first US flag, it's easy to see why despite it being a matter of oral conjecture than easily proved fact. That said, thoughtfully restored and period furnished colonial house makes for an interesting museum and the story of Betsy Ross' sewing exploits provided a much needed inspiration for girls growing up with a history of the American Revolution full of only men.
Dating back to the mid-1700s, the house is fairly ordinary aside from its most famous dweller though it does stand out now that all its neighbors have gone the way of the wrecking ball. If for no other reason, Ross' notoriety made sure this lovely old home is still around for us to enjoy. The suggested donation is $3 for adults. An audio tour is available for $5 which includes the suggested admission price.
Betsy Ross house (pic 1) is where Betsy and John Ross lived from 1773 to 1786. Betsy sewed the first American flag here (1776) and probably that’s why you pay a ticket to see a house which is one of the city’s major attractions!
There are only some rooms to see (photography isn’t allowed) but the signs will give some information about Betsy’s life, how she started until her retirement at the age of 76 due to rapidly failing vision (after over 50 years in her trade). She died at the age of 86, by the way the life expectancy rate for Colonial Americans is often misunderstood, according an info sign in the museum this happens because one in ten infants born in the 18th century didn’t live to the age of one, however, if you lived over 21 you’d live to see your 60th.
At the last room there is a girl that plays the role of Betsy (pic 3), you can see her at work and talk to her, ask question, how she’s still alive after 200 years and things like that. I did and hopefully she laughed. :)
The entrance fee is $3, the museum is open daily 10.00-17.00. It supposed to get packed by visitors (and the house is really small) but I was alone all the way.
On my way out I noticed some colonial actors at the courtyard but I found the fake cats more interesting (pic 4)
Most people know that the creator of the first American Flag was Betsy Ross, a native Pennsylvanian and well-known seamstress. What most people don't know is that Betsy Ross was also a keen businesswoman who outlived 3 husbands and 2 of her 7 daughters. She was a hardworking, tough woman who only finally retired in her mid 70's when she was too tired to work any longer. She lived well into her mid 80's at a time when 40 was considered old.
The Betsy Ross House is the house where Betsy and her daughters actually lived and worked and where the first flag was sewn. The front of the house served as Betsy's shop where she spent her days making curtains, tablecloths, and bedcoverings for clients. She also upolstered furniture, a service that was in high demand at that time and provided steady business. Betsy also earned income to support her daughters by making musket balls for the Revolutionary Army. She is burried on the grounds of the house with her third husband, John Claypoole.
Open 10 - 5, Closed Mondays Oct - March
Deemed “Our Nation's Oldest Residential Street,” Elfred's Alley offers a rare glimpse into colonial America and does in fact date back to the very early 1700s. Few outside of Philadelphia-natives fully recognized the importance of the city to the inception of the United States. Boston has its tea party, New York is the nation's global capital and DC is the seat of the government but Philadelphia played a pivotal role in what was to become and outside of Boston still offers the most detailed view of life in pre-Revolutionary life in what was to become the US. The Liberty Bell and Betsy Ross's flag may be the icons cementing this legacy but Elfred's Alley is a more concrete vision to behold. A neighborhood street largely unchanged in character for 300 years. Sure, it was set for demolition in the early 1900s but thankfully, concerned citizens banded together to save it and now with it a National Historic Landmark, it should be around for future generations to behold and hopefully appreciate.
There is a small museum store located on the block but aside from that, the buildings still on display are private (and fairly expensive for their size) homes. The best way to enjoy them is to stroll down it's narrow cobblestone street midday during the week when it's likely no one else is around. It's like taking a walk to another time.
The Betsy Ross house is where the first flag of the United States was made. This came about when General George Washington and two other members of the Continental Congress walked into her upholstery shop with something specific on their minds--a new flag representing the country had to be created and they felt Betsy was up to the task. The year was 1776.
Betsy's house is nicely preserved and her life in Philadelphia interestingly detailed. She was an enterprising woman who lived into her 80's.
Operating hours are 10 am-5 pm daily from April-September; Tus.Sun from October-March. A self guided tour is $3.00 for adults and seniors; $2.00 for children and students or a $4.00 admission fee which provides entrance and an audio guide.
Betsy's house was donated to the city in 1937 and was restored with the proceeds of a dime donation drive.
But did she really sew the first American flag?
She WAS a good friend of George Washington. She WAS a seamstress. But the only proof that she did indeed sew the first flag is by an accounting made by her grandson...
The tour is self-guided and only takes about a half-hour.
Nearby is Elfreth's Alley- You must check it out. Also nearby: the US Mint and the new National Constitution Center.
So, while it doesn't take long to visit Betsy's place, it is close to other attractions.
Self-guided tour for Adults $3.00
Children & Seniors $2.00.
Hours: 10am - 5pm.
Open daily April -- September
Open Tuesday -- Sunday October -- March. Open on Monday holidays.
Supposedly haunted, the house is a complex of two buildings that Betsy Ross lived in and met with the flag committe to design and present the American flag in 1777.
After you tour through the house, you can go into the courtyard and meet Betsy Ross, hear storytelling and watch colonial era craftsmen at work.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, April to October
closed Mondays, October through March
$2 children 12 and under/students
Audio tours are $5 (price includes admission)
The Betsy Ross house is located a little north of Franklin Court. The site has a courtyard, a gift shop/ticket office, and the house itself. Sometimes you will see colonial actors in the courtyard. The house itself is rather small but it's an interesting look at life in a colonial city. There are several stories to the house (including the basement).
If you visit try to get their early. Due to the size of the house, it can be very difficult to move from room to room when crowded.
Although Betsy Ross had diligently studied upholstery, she had never made a flag. Once the idea was revealed to her, she agreed to take on the project...with one change. A five pointed star would be used in the design rather than the six pointed star. General George Washington and two others who accompanied him to her shop agreed to the alteration. One year later a resolution was passed making the Stars and Stripes the official flag of the United States.
Her part in the American Revolution by sewing the Stars and Stripes would never have been known if it hadn't been for a family member bringing it to the attention of Congress almost 100 years later.
Hours are 10 am-5 pm daily from April-September; Tues.-Sun. from October-March. The home is opened on all holiday Mondays. A self guided tour is $3.00 for adults and seniors; $2.00 for children and students. A $4.00 entrance fee provides an audio guide.
Betsy often amused her children and grandchildren by recounting the story of how she made the first Stars and Stripes. For nearly a century, the story of Betsy Ross and the making of the first flag was known only by her family. It wasn?t until William Canby?s speech to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1870 that the nation was first introduced to his remarkable grandmother and her accomplishments
The men presented her with a sketch of the proposed flag. She studied the drawing and noticed that there were six-pointed stars in the design. Betsy suggested that the stars should have five points, but the gentlemen protested, claiming that a great many of these flags must be made very quickly and a five-pointed star would be too difficult to make. With that, Betsy folded a piece of paper and with just one snip of her scissors she revealed a perfect five-pointed star. The men were impressed with her skill and agreed to change the design. One year later, on June 14, 1777, Congress passed the Flag Resolution, making the Stars and Stripes the official flag of the United States
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