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Ury House

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2007.01.24
Audubon not in love
Letters were forwarded by them to my father's agent, Miers Fisher of Philadelphia, of whom I have more to say hereafter. He came for me in his carriage and removed me to his villa, at a short distance from Philadelphia and on the road toward Trenton. There I would have found myself quite comfortable had not incidents taken place which are so connected with the change in my life as to call immediate attention to them.
Miers Fisher had been my father's trusted agent for about eighteen years, and the old gentlemen entertained great mutual friendship; indeed it would seem that Mr. Fisher was actually desirious that I should become a member of his family, and this was evinced within a few days by the manner in which the good Quaker presented me to a daughter of no mean appearance, but toward whom I happened to take an unconquerable dislike. Then he was opposed to music of all descriptions, as well as to dancing, could not bear me to carry a gun, or fishing-rod, and, indeed, condemned most of my amusements. All these things were difficulties toward accomplishing a plan which, for aught I know to the contrary, had been premeditated between him and my father, and rankled the heart of the kindly, if somewhat strict Quaker. They troubled me much also; at times I wished myself anywhere but under the roof of Miers Fisher, and at last I reminded him that it was his duty to install me on the estate to which my father had sent me.
One morning, therefore, I was told that the carriage was ready to carry me there, and toward my future home he and I went.
--excerpt from John James Audubon, "Myself" (within Audubon and His Journals).


2007.01.24
The Susquehanna Road
1926.10.22
Evening Public Ledger
HISTORIC ESTATE SOLD
Fox Chase Property, Owned by Crawford Family, Changes Hands
Announcement is made of the sale of forty-two acres of "Ury," the Crawford estate on Verree Road, Foxchase. The purchase was made by Thad S. Krause from Harriet C. Crawford.
The land is a part of the 80-acre estate in the Crawford family for more than 100 years [sic]. The mansion was erected on the site of the old Swedish trading post founded there in 1685 [sic]. The Susquehanna Road, planned by William Penn's surveyors [Thomas Holme] as a great highway between the Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers, was to have passed through the estate.
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Portion of the 1687 Holme plan of Pennsylvania
In the 1687 plan of Pennsylvania, the planned Susquehanna Road (marked in red above) runs along the course of Dublin Creek (today's Pennypack Creek). The only portion of Susquehanna Road that exists today within Philadelphia proper runs along the northern edge of the Ury Estate (marked in blue above). A fair stretch of Susquehanna Road exists, however, through Montgomery County, immediately west of the Ury Estate. Interestingly, Susquehanna Road in Philadelphia and Susquehanna Road in Montgonery County do not align exactly, yet their respective trajectories run parallel with about a thousand foot gap between.

2007.01.28
maybe, maybe not
1945.10.04
The Evening Bulletin
ANCIENT URY HOUSE SOLD TO CATHOLICS
...Soon after William Penn's arrival the property was acquired by the Taylor family and later was visited by Penn's grandsons, who amused their hosts by their disregard for the sober and plain living of the Founder.
Jefferson's pecan tree, planted on the lawn, is still a family tradition. Edward VII, who always complained he could never distinguish between scrapple and biddle, visited [1860.10.9-11] the house when he was Prince of Wales.[sic]


2007.02.04
A Miers Fisher Banquet of Lawyers
1774 SEPTR. 7. WEDNESDAY.
Went to congress again. Heard Mr. Duche read Prayers. The Collect for the day, the 7th of the Month, was most admirably adapted, tho this was accidental, or rather Providential. A Prayer, which he gave us of his own Composition, was as pertinent, as affectionate, as sublime, as devout, as I ever heard offered up to Heaven. He filled every Bosom present.
Dined with Mr. Miers Fisher, a young Quaker and a Lawyer. We saw his Library, which is clever.
But this plain Friend, and his plain, tho pretty Wife, with her Thee's and Thou's, had provided us the most Costly Entertainment. Ducks, Hams, Chickens, Beef, Pigg, Tarts, Creams, Custards, Gellies, fools, Trifles, floating Islands, Beer, Porter, Punch, Wine and a long &c.
We had a large Collection of Lawyers, at Table. Mr. Andrew Allen, the Attorney General, a Mr. Morris, the Prothonotary, Mr. Fisher, Mr. McKean, Mr. Rodney -- besides these We had Mr. Reed, Govr. Hopkins and Governor Ward.
We had much Conversation upon the Practice of Law, in our different Provinces, but at last We got swallowed up, in Politicks, and the great Question of Parliamentary Jurisdiction. Mr. Allen asks me, from whence do you derive your Laws? How do you intitle yourselves to English Priviledges? Is not Lord Mansfield on the Side of Power?
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It is the above passage from John Adams' diary that has led subsequent 'historians' to surmise that John Adams once visited Ury House. Miers Fisher did not own Ury House until 1795.


2007.02.09 22:19
Anyone support tearing it down?
dodge the bullet
a rose is a rose is a trumbauer
quondam is as quondam does
I found out yesterday that, on 17 August 1824, the man who "founded the nation's first public museum" visited and sketched "Miers Fisher's House." I doubt the "rambling" 83 year old suspected that one day in the far off future that the first virtual museum of architecture online would eventually emanate from the same place.
But I'm still looking for the drawing of "The Seat of Miers Fisher" exhibited by Benjamin Henry Latrobe in 1812. Wonder what gave him such a capitol idea.

2007.02.10
Would Benjamin Henry Latrobe have...
...exhibited the work of another architect?
Benjamin H. Latrobe, the architect and engineer, had some taste for landscape drawing. He exhibited, in 1812, a "View of the River Schuylkill" and a "View of the Seat of Miers Fisher."
--excerpt from John Thomas Scharf and Thompson Westcott, History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884 (1884), p. 1052.
7. According to the catalogues of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the 1811 exhibition included, by Latrobe, a landscape on the Schuylkill River, an view of the Richmond penitentiary [a work by Latrobe], and five large drawings of the Capitol at Washington [a work by Latrobe]--two plans, two elevations, and a perspective. In 1812 he exhibited a view of the seat of Myers Fisberg [sic], Esq., and another Schuylkill River landscape, and in 1818 a perspective of the Baltimore Cathedral [a work by Latrobe]. His wife also painter; Mary Latrobe is credited with two views from nature in the 1812 exhibition. I owe this information to the kindness of Miss Anna W. Rutledge.
--Talbot Hamlin, Benjamin Henry Latrobe (New York: Oxford University Press, 1955), p. 318n.
So what does/did Latrobe's "View of the Seat of Miers Fisher" look like? Unfortunately, I don't know yet.
Here's what Charles Willson Peale sketched 17 August 1824:

Here's what Ury House looked like in the early 20th century:

If anything, there is a distinct similarity between the entry porch of Latrobe's Water Works (1800) and the entry porch of Ury House.

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