Philadelphia is the biggest city in Pennsylvania. It has a rich history and has amazing places to see like the Liberty Bell, the Independence Hall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and other sites related to American Revolutionary.
A photo of downtown Philadelphia. (Link: https://www.ihg.com/kimptonhotels/content/us/en/stay/boutique-hotels-in-philadelphia)
Another area that gets a lot of visitors is the Powel House. It is a historic museum that is reportedly haunted. Do you want to know why they say it’s haunted? Read more below to find out!
A photo of the Powel House as seen from the outside. (Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powel_House)
The History of Powel House
The Powel House is a historic house museum that is located in the Society Hill neighbourhood of Philadelphia. It was built sometime in the year 1765 and was originally built for a merchant and shipmaster named Charles Stedman.
An old photo of the Powel House. (Link: https://libwww.freelibrary.org/digital/item/2576)
Stedman had the brick house built even before he ran into financial troubles. He was not even able to occupy the home because he ended up in debtor’s prison. The house was then put up for sale and Samuel Powel, from whom the house was named, bought it for £3,150. Powel had status and power and later on, he became the last mayor of Philadelphia when it was still under the British ruling, and the first ever mayor of Philadelphia when it regained its independence. He was dubbed as the Patriot Mayor because he fully supported the American Revolution.
Samuel Powel in an undated photo. (Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Powel)
When Powel and his wife occupied the home, they did some improvements by adding lavish decorations and ornate interiors. They even had a Rococo plastered ceiling by James Clow and amazing architectural woodwork by carvers Hercules Courtnay and Martin Jugiez. The Powels even entertained a lot of famous people in their home like Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush, John Adams, and many more.
In the year 1793, Powell died from the yellow fever pandemic. His wife continued to occupy the Powel House and even bought a lot of items from then-soon-to-be former President Washington in the year 1797. She bought the presidential coach and horses, the presidential desk, girandole mirrors, and many more. But, the following year, she sold the Powel House to the husband of her niece.
During the 20th century, the Powel house became a warehouse for a business that centred on importing and exporting Russian and Siberian horse hair and bristles. The home was later almost emptied because the second floor parlor’s architectural woodwork and the ballroom’s plaster ceiling and architectural woodwork were sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Philadelphia Museum of Art, respectively.
In the year 1939, the Powel House was supposed to be demolished because the property was proposed to be converted into a parking lot. The Antiquarian Frances Wister saved the house from being demolished by forming the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks. They were able to raise funds to purchase and keep the property. Later, architect H. Louis Duhring, Jr. was hired to restore the house to its former glory. The Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks then opened it as a museum. It aimed to show the daily lives of the wealthy citizens of Philadelphia during the American Revolution.
Today, some of the original items in the Powel House remain on display such as the set of china given to the Powels by the Marquis de Lafayette and a 1793 portrait of Mrs. Powel. The Powel House remains to be one of the finest existing Georgian Colonial townhouses to this day.
A photo showing one part of the inside of the Powel House. (Link: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/6889)
The Powel House is also a venue for weddings, birthdays, and other special events.
An event at the Powel House. (Link: https://www.wedding-spot.com/venue/3421/Powel-House-Garden/)
The Spirits At The Powel House
One of the spirits that continue to inhabit the Powel House is that of Marquis de Lafayette and the spirits of his officers. Marquis de Lafayette was a French nobleman who rallied for freedom and expressed his dislike for the monarchy system. He arrived in the United States in the year 1777 for the sole purpose of helping the colonists fight the English during the Revolutionary War. He was a close friend of then-president George Washington. He also loved visiting the Powels and other people who wanted to start a new nation without the British colony.
Marquis de Lafayette in an undated portrait. (Link: https://www.historyisfun.org/learn/learning-center/colonial-america-american-revolution-learning-resources/american-revolution-essays-timelines-images/people-of-the-revolution/lafayette/)
Accordingly, Marquis de Lafayette and the spirits of his officers could be seen entering the front door of the Powel House. Some claim that they have seen him and the Continental Army Officers walking right through the entrance.
The entrance to the Powel House. (Link: https://www.cntraveler.com/activities/philadelphia/powel-house)
Another spirit belongs to Benedict Arnold, who was an American military officer who served during the Revolutionary War. Arnold is said to be around the Powel House because he has an unfinished business or wants to say something that he was not able to when he was still alive. It is unknown who he wants to talk to or what he wants to say. Arnold was a reported traitor because he took a commission from the British Forces. Whatever he wanted to say or wanted to get out of his chest, it is believed to be about that. Arnold’s wife, Peggy, is also frequently spotted at the drawing room of the Powel House.
Benedict Arnold in an undated illustration. (Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benedict_Arnold)
Other members of the Continental Army are also spotted going down the mahogany staircase of the Powel House. They are usually spotted wearing party clothes. Accordingly, Powel and his wife love entertaining the members of the Army that is why they always throw a party for them.
A photo of the stairs and the entrance at the Powel House. (Link: https://www.pinterest.ph/pin/461126449318905418/)
The Ghost Of A Beautiful, Smiling Woman
The most common manifestation is from a female entity. She is said to be young and beautiful and is always dressed in a beige and lavender dress. She is usually spotted on the second floor of the Powel House. She was spotted in one room fanning herself and whenever she makes eye contact with the living, she smiles at them. Then, she disappears into thin air.
According to one visitor, he went to the restroom of the second floor. The lights went out and he could not see anything. He said that he felt a cold wind surround him and a cold hand took his hand then led him towards the stairs. The hand that led him even held him firmly. When the lights went back on, he saw the woman leading her to the stairs. The woman smiled at him and later faded away.
Another area at the Powel House. (Link: https://www.phlvisitorcenter.com/things-to-do/powel-house)
It is unclear who this woman is but she is believed to be a former lady of the Powel House.
Manifestations At The Powel House
Caretaker Jennifer Davidson of the Powel House said in a statement in the past that she feels cold spots all over the house. She added, “I have a lot of people that come to events here at the house and tell me quite frankly and very matter-of-factly, ‘you know you’re not alone here.’”
Some people claimed that they hear footsteps in the Powel House even if no one else is there. Her husband was in the basement one time and he told her that he heard footsteps on the floor above the basement. She then told him that she was not in that area of the house when he heard such.
The ballroom at the Powel House. (Link: https://philadelphia.garcesevents.com/venues/show/powel-house)