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Mary House's Boarding House
(Fifth & Market Streets)

Mary House's Boarding HouseMary House ran an "upscale" boarding house during the 1780s and her reputation for providing high quality accommodations was well known. George Washington, for example, signed up to stay there during the Convention until persuaded otherwise by Robert Morris. Five delegates stayed at her house—Edmund Randolph, James Madison, James McClurg, George Read, and John Dickinson—but since room availability was at a premium, Dickinson and Read from Delaware shared a room: "Mr. Randolph expects his lady."

Mary House's Boarding HouseRandolph was one of seven delegates to bring his wife to Philadelphia in the summer of 1787. Elbridge Gerry was another married delegate seeking accommodations for two. He made an application for accommodation, writes Read, but since he, Read, was first on the list, the offer was Dickinson's to accept. The boarding house still attracted Washington's attention even though he was not a resident. Washington's diary entry of July 17th states: "dined at Mrs. Houses."

The boarding house was used by the Virginia delegates to hammer out the Virginia Plan. One resident delegate described Mrs. House's establishment as "very crowded, and the room I am presently in [is] so small as not to admit of a second bed."

A public bathroom occupied the site during the late twentieth century. See the two photos above taken in the 1980s.

A plaque that used to hang on the Fifth Street side (shown on the right below) notes that Madison resided here during the Constitutional Convention. That plaque has been removed and in its place is the plaque on the left below. I first noticed the change in the plaques in 2000.

Plaque at Mary House's Boarding HousePlaque at Mary House's Boarding House

 











In 2007, the public bathroom was razed and replaced by a park. A monument to the First Amendment is now in its place (shown below).

Monument to the First Amendment
Monument to the First Amendment
Monument to the First Amendment

But there is construction taking place in 2010-2011 as shown by what appears to be a transportation stop right next to where the Boarding House used to be located. The photos below were taken between October 2010 and April 2011.

Construction in 2010-11 on the site of Mrs. Houses's Boarding House
Construction in 2010-11 on the site of Mrs. Houses's Boarding House
Construction in 2010-11 on the site of Mrs. Houses's Boarding House
Subway Sign on the site of Mrs. Houses's Boarding House