Philadelphia is known around the nation and the world for its extraordinarily rich ties to American history. The city that was once the home to the Founding Fathers now preserves and commemorates iconic moments and figures in the historical story of America. The houses of significant men and women—like Elizabeth and Samuel Powel, the Johnson family, and Dr. Philip Physick—are open to the public, who can tour their extravagant quarters and learn their histories. Here are some of our favorites.


In the 18th century, the Powel House was the home of Elizabeth and Samuel Powel. The couple was well-known and influential, keeping company with Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and George Washington. The Powels frequently entertained the Founding Fathers in grand style, and the Washingtons even celebrated their 20th anniversary at the house. While the elegance of the brick exterior facade is understated and simple, the interior of the house was elaborately decorated. Furnished with stylish portraits, clocks, upholstered chairs, and adorned with bas-relief plasterwork and mahogany wainscoting, the house is one of the nation’s finest Georgian colonial townhouses.

Public tours available
224 South 3rd Street
(215) 627-0364


Philadelphia’s only intact stop on the Underground Railroad is the Johnson House, a home owned by generations of Quaker abolitionists. The family, the Johnsons, created one of the safe houses along the Underground Railroad, providing safe passage and a hiding place for runaway slaves in the third-floor attic. Freedom fighter Harriet Tubman was one of the people sheltered and fed at the house in Germantown that was one of the largest in Philadelphia at the time. Wooden cabinets and hardwood floors create a simple rustic home with a stone and brick exterior. Guests can examine various slavery artifacts like ankle shackles, as well as a variety of educational material.

Public tours available
6306 Germantown Avenue
(215) 438-1768


Dr. Philip Syng Physick was one of the most accomplished physicians and surgeons of his time. But his personal life is what led him to the 18th-century mansion now know as Physick House—his wife left him, a scandalous situation for the time. He moved his children into the spectacular home and treated his high-profile patients like Dolley Madison and President Andrew Jackson there. The house itself is grand and spectacular, decorated in Empire and Federal style with Neoclassical treasures. Visitors can explore the beautiful Society Hill home and peruse some of the doctor’s cutting edge medical tools.

Tours available by appointment during roof restoration
321 South 4th Street
(215) 925-7866


Thaddeus Kosciuszko was a Polish count whose military engineering and fortifications helped the patriots to defeat the British in the Revolutionary War. After the Revolution he returned to Philadelphia to collect his salary and was honored by national dignitaries like Thomas Jefferson. Kosciuszko eventually returned to Poland to lead an unsuccessful front against Tsarist Russia. Today, visitors can tour the first-floor exhibits of his military creations and wander upstairs to see his historic bedroom.

Public tours available
43 South 3rd Street
(215) 965-2305