239 Arch St., 215/686-1252
HOURS: Daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Apr.–Sept.,
Tues.–Sun. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Oct.–Mar.
COST: $3 adult, $2 child (12 and under) and student, $4 audio tour includes admission
Did she or didn’t she? The debate over whether or not Betsy Ross actually sewed the first American flag rages on, but the fact that she led a fascinating life is indisputable.
Married and widowed three times, Betsy was shunned because her first husband was not a Quaker. She was eventually welcomed back into the Society of Friends when she married her third husband, a Quaker named John Claypoole.
Built in 1740, her “bandbox”-style home has one room on each floor and a winding staircase from the basement to the top. Betsy made a living as an upholsterer while she lived here from 1773 to 1785. And she wasn’t the only one; a wide variety of shopkeepers and artisans lived and worked in the home over a 150-year-period, including a shoemaker, an apothecary, and a cigarmaker.
Period furniture, including some of Betsy’s belongings, can be seen in the seven tiny rooms. As you explore, you’ll be struck by the narrow hallways and low doorways.
A 25-minute audio tour gives a history of the house and of Betsy’s life. An alternative tour is offered for kids—complete with a scavenger hunt.
The site draws crowds in the summer, and you’ll be moved through more quickly. If you’re able to visit in fall or winter, you’ll have the option of a longer, more in-depth tour.