You say you’ve heard that before?  ‘Tis true.  I cannot tell a lie.  (You say you’ve heard that before as well?) You did know he had to sleep somewhere, right?  A number of somewheres!  Well, this is one of the somewheres!

During the time the Continental Army bivouacked at Valley Forge, most of the men slept in wooden huts that they’d made laboriously by hand (and axe.)  I always had the impression that they nearly froze in tents, but during our recent trip to Valley Forge, I found out that wasn’t true, at least the tent part.  Many of them probably felt as though they were freezing, dressed inadequately and without, in many cases, proper shoes or boots, and for much too long, food supplies were inadequate.

As both befits a leader and someone who needed a place for planning, George Washington slept in a home rented, with some furnishings, from Mrs. Deborah Hewes.  Mrs. Hewes rented the house from her relative who owned it.

But this was no Airbnb rental, so not just George and Martha (anyone else think children’s books and hippos when they read that?) lived and slept there.  A large number of officers and others were crammed into the lovely, but not spacious, house.  There would have been a definite lack of privacy, with people coming and going at all hours.  The remit was to keep an eye on those devilish British not far away in Philadelphia, not team-building experience, but the team slept here, too, at least some of them. It wasn’t just a walk in the (national) park!

If you’d like to tour the house virtually, you can do that here or click here to see the illustrated guidebook.

© janet m. webb 2017

© janet m. webb 2017

George and Martha slept here.

© janet m. webb 2017

George, his officers, and others worked here.

© janet m. webb 2017

© janet m. webb 2017

© janet m. webb 2017

George did NOT sleep here.

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Comments
  1. Nice one J. Interesting. Let’s have some more historical type posts.

  2. Beautifully preserved. Our forefathers were made of stern stuff.

    • That they were, Judy. Of course, most of the furnishings are either reproductions or things from that time that would have been similar to those in the house. But the house is lovely.

      janet

  3. joey says:

    Beautiful home. I love the stone and trim. Thanks for sharing a peek 🙂

  4. I bet the house was a lot warmer being stone, than a wooden hut.

    The stone work and patterns are gorgeous.

    I love the kitchen.

    • I imagine it was, but oddly enough, all the information I saw there indicated that the huts were, at least for the time and what they were, not bad at all, certainly not the impression I had. There also would have been plenty wood to burn. The house is a beauty, but it certainly would have been crowded with 15-25 people staying there. At least G&M had their own room.

      janet

      • Very crowded and probably smelly. I don’t imagine they bathed very often back then.

        The history books tell of the troops nearly starving and freezing to death. I recall a story where Washington pleaded for shoes, and food for the troops.
        I may be reading that story again soon. I just picked up an old child’s history book of America to start reading to #1 Grandson.
        The book was one my son loved the book he fell in love with history reading it. He went on to get a History Major degree then studied law, and is practicing law. He may still teach one day.

      • I’m a history-lover, too!

        The food situation did get quite bad, but the nearly freezing to death part doesn’t seem to have been as accurate. Not having adequate footwear or any footwear would have been a big problem! One historical fact that shines through all the time is what an excellent, caring leader Washington was. Just a good man who, despite not wanting to be the leader of the country eventually, stepped up when needed–twice!

      • He was the right guy for the time and job. 🙂

      • He was and quite humble as well. He really wanted to farm, rather then go into politics. I guess today he’d be considered an anomaly as a politician!

      • Oh, yes, bathing or lack thereof. If it were that cold, I don’t imagine bathing sounded too attractive. 🙂

  5. Very interesting. And a beautiful house. One day we’ll get that way. I’d love to visit all the national (and selective) state parks but that might be a little too ambitious.

    • I’ve been to a number of national parks but would love to see them all or at least a lot more. For dreaming purposes, here’s a link to the visiting 47 national parks in one road trip: http://tinyurl.com/hucnd6a. They say it can be done in three weeks, but I’d prefer three months. It’s a retirement bucket list item!

      janet

      • Thanks for the link, Janet. Looking forward to seeing as many as possible. But I want to take my time, not rush through them. So, yeah, retirement bucket list.

  6. doodletllc says:

    What a fun post. I guess George Washington slept in many different places. When I lived in Brooklyn, there was a house in the neighborhood where Washington lived/slept and waged the Battle of New York against the British…overlooking New York Harbor. At least that’s what the plaque says. 🙂

  7. Su Leslie says:

    Cool post Janet. Lovely photos and a great history lesson (especially for folks like me for whom this isn’t “our” history). It’s interesting to look at old buildings and realise how little space people lived in. I guess our concept of privacy is a pretty modern one.

    • Your comment about privacy is very true, Su. I think sometimes many people have so much privacy that they’re not really connected to people around them at all. McMansions and other large homes that are either very far from their neighbors a/o are behind walls and gates keep their owners from possible rewarding relationships. Even the disappearance of porches in many places keeps people indoors or in the back on a deck where they may not see the people living around them. And those are just outside the home.

      Glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

      janet

      • Su Leslie says:

        I think that is a really good point Janet. When we first moved to this house 17 years ago, a majority of houses around us weren’t fenced, 0r maybe had little fences and some trees or hedging on their boundaries. Over the years, we watched people uproot the trees and gardens to build tall fences (often with electric gates!!!) between themselves and their neighbours. Even garages with internal access limit the contact people have with neighbours. Ours is still considered a friendly neighbourhood, where kids are watched over by people who know them from school and soccer club and scouts etc.And we definitely gave the boy-child a lot more freedom to roam for that reason, but the community is definitely changing with people of our “era” moving out and new families moving in. I hope they make the same bonds we did, but from what I can see, I doubt it. Very sad.

      • When I was growing up, we used to play all over the neighborhood with other children and no one thought anything about it. Now you might get reported if you let your child go somewhere by his/herself. Sad, indeed. I think there’s more of a sense of community sometimes in poorer areas, where there are apartments and everyone is outside or on the steps, etc. Of course, there can be bad problems in some areas, but still people know each other and what’s going on.

      • Su Leslie says:

        Your childhood sounds like mine! We used to go outside after breakfast, roam the neighbourhood with our friends and siblings and come home for dinner. If it was raining, Mum would hand us a coat! One of the main reasons we came back to NZ with the boy-child was to try and recapture some of that. While we lived in England there were a number of horrible child abductions/murders and understandably I guess, people kept their kids very close. And of course the weather isn’t as kind as it is here. I think we were very lucky to find a place, on the edge of the city, that still felt (feels?) like a real community. I think you are right about higher housing density and lower socio-economic status helping to foster greater community spirit. But when things go wrong, they can go spectacularly wrong!

      • Unfortunately true. Downtown Chicago is the perfect example. Stringent gun laws but people being shot every day! People there can’t afford to leave.

      • Su Leslie says:

        That’s terrible. We live in such an unjust world. I fear for my son’s future.

  8. Dan Antion says:

    I love this house, Janet. Thanks for the virtual tour. I’ll try to take the official one at some point, but I enjoyed this one.

    • It’s so much fun to be able to bring such a large group of people along without anyone feeling crowded. 🙂 In actuality, even though it was off-season (but a very warm day, which brought out lots of people), we had to move carefully through the house, as the hallways aren’t wide, especially when going up to view the attic. I’d read his headquarters wasn’t going to be open, so it was a wonderful surprise to find that it was. You’ll enjoy it when you visit in person and the entire, huge park is great.

  9. marianallen says:

    What a beautiful house! I love a stone building. Wouldn’t want to be under one, if it fell out of Kansas, though. Thanks for the history lesson — I, too, thought the soldiers lived in drafty tents. I’m glad they had huts to keep out the wind.

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