Ahh July 4th! A time to BBQ with friends, soak in the sun at the beach and raise a toast in honor of the brave Founding Fathers and Mothers who gave the big heave ho’ to King George III. This year, why not truly celebrate our nation’s independence by visiting one (or all!) of these Revolutionary War era homes?
Connecticut: Nathan Hale Homestead
2299 South St.
Coventry, CT 06238
Nathan Hale was a teacher turned spy who was discovered by the British and lost his life at the young age of 21. His famous last words were, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Nathan Hale’s Georgian-style home was completed in 1776 and has stood virtually unchanged since. Surrounded by the 1,500 acre Nathan Hale State Forest, visitors can learn more about the family’s role in the Patriot cause, view authentic items owned by the family, as well as stroll around the property and learn more about 18th century farming.
Plan your visit: The site is open year round to visitors and offers several specialty tours and educational programs.
Delaware: Hales-Byrne House
606 Stanton-Christiania Road
Newark, DE 19713
This home was built circa 1750 by the Hales family and purchased in 1773 by the Byrne family. Although the Byrnes were Quakers and pacifists, during the revolution the family found themselves smack in the middle of British and Patriot encampments. This small home on the banks of the White Clay Creek found itself in the spotlight in September 1777, when George Washington held his Council of War with Henry Knox, Nathaniel Greene, the Marquis de Lafayette and other Patriot officers. Their goal? Plan the defense of Philadelphia.
Plan your visit: The home is on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to visitors the first Wednesday of the month from April to December.
Georgia: Wormsloe Historic Site
7601 Skidaway Road
Savannah, GA 31406
Wormsloe is the estate of one of Georgia’s founding settlers, Noble Jones. A sort of jack of all trades, Jones was a carpenter, doctor, surveyor, constable and even commander of a group of marines. The remains of his original “tabby house” — made with a mixture of sand, water, lime and oyster shells — is considered the oldest standing structure in Savannah. After Noble Jones died in 1775, the property amazingly remained in his family for almost 200 years, until the state purchased it in 1973. Today, visitors can stroll down a gorgeous tree-lined trail to tour the plantation home, interact with costumed interpreters, and view the “Colonial Life” area to learn about 18th century life in Georgia.
Plan your visit: This historic site is open Tuesdays-Sundays and offers several colonial and Revolutionary War themed events throughout the year.
Maryland: Thomas Stone
6655 Rose Hill Road
Port Tobacco, MD 20677
Thomas Stone may not be as well known as another famous revolutionary Thomas, but this one-time pacifist risked it all by signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The property remained in private ownership until the Stone family home, Haberventure, was nearly destroyed by a fire in 1978. This park includes Stone’s restored mansion, outbuildings (including an 18th century barn) and the family cemetery.
Fun Fact: it is the only National Park dedicated to one of the Declaration’s signers!
Plan your visit: Visitors can enjoy this peaceful public park, which is just a short ride from Washington D.C., from March through December, Thursday to Sunday. Thirty minute guided tours are available.
Massachusetts: Paul Revere House
19 North Square
Boston, MA 02113
Longfellow’s famous poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” begins:
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere
This silversmith and Son of Liberty carried out his famous ride on April 18, 1775, to warn the colonists the British were marching toward Lexington. The home is located in the heart of Boston and dates back to 1680. Revere and his wife, five children and mother lived in the home from 1770-1800. After falling victim to neglect through the years, Revere’s great grandson purchased the building, and it was opened as one of the nation’s first historic house museums in 1908. Visitors can experience the home as Revere lived it, complete with authentic 17th and 18th century furnishings and several items owned by the family.
New Hampshire: Ladd-Gilman House
One Governors Lane
Exeter, NH 03833
The 300 year old Ladd-Gilman house was built in 1720 as one of the first brick houses in New Hampshire. Its real claim to fame, however, is that Patriot soldier, signer of the US Constitution and New Hampshire senator, Nicholas Gilman Jr., was born in the home in 1755. Today, as part of the American Independence Museum, visitors can view Gilman’s draft of the US Constitution, complete with his notes in the margins, view one of the last remaining original purple hearts awarded by George Washington, and learn about New Hampshire’s role in the war for independence.
Plan your visit: The home is open from May to November on Tuesdays to Saturdays. Visitors can also check out the nearby Folsom Tavern, where George Washington once enjoyed a “light collation,” or what we call “breakfast!”
New Jersey: Rockingham House
84 Laurel Ave
Kingston, NJ 08528
While George Washington was residing at Rockingham on October 31, 1783, he received the monumental news that the Treaty of Paris was signed and America’s independence from Great Britain was final. The home began as a simple two-room dwelling in 1710, and underwent an expansion in 1760 under its new owner, John Berien. It is the only home on this list that has been physically relocated three times, and finally found its permanent spot in 2001. Not only can visitors see 18th century furnishings and Washington’s military reproductions, they can also stroll through a garden that represents what the Berien family would have needed to grow to survive throughout the year.
Plan your visit: The home is open for guided tours only on Wednesdays to Sundays.
New York: Conference House
7455 Hylan Blvd
Staten Island, NY 10307
This 1680 house, built by future Loyalist Captain Christopher Billop, was the scene of a 1776 peace conference between Patriots John Adams, Edward Rutledge and Ben Franklin and British representative Lord Richard Howe. Both sides hoped to come to a peaceful agreement to end hostilities. However, with one side not willing to negotiate anything less than complete independence, and the other not willing to accept independence at any cost, it’s no surprise that both sides left without an agreement and the war would eventually continue for seven more years. Eventually New York City purchased the then dilapidated colonial home and restored it to its 18th century glory.
Plan your visit: The home is located at the southernmost tip of Staten Island, one of New York City’s five boroughs. It is open from April to mid-December on Fridays to Sundays.
North Carolina: House in the Horseshoe
288 Alston House Rd
Sanford, NC 27330
Built in 1772 as one of the first large houses in North Carolina’s frontier country, it received its unusual name by being located off a “horseshoe bend” of the Deep River. In 1781, while the home was owned by Patriot colonel Philip Alston, he and his small army of men were attacked by a larger unit of Loyalists. After a skirmish that left many casualties on both sides, Alston was forced to surrender. Later remodeled as a plantation home in the early 19th century, today’s visitors can still see the Revolutionary bullet holes that riddle its walls.
Plan your visit: The home is open from Tuesday to Saturday year round. They host an annual reenactment of the skirmish each August.
Pennsylvania: Betsy Ross House
239 Arch St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Betsy Ross is known as the artist who designed our nation’s first flag. Although there is no proof that this indeed happened, the legend of Betsy Ross has endured since the mid-1800s. Her home was built in 1740 in a “bandbox style,” which means there is only one room on each floor. The family would have lived on the top floors while using the first floor and its large windows as a perfect place to display merchandise and run their business. At this home in the heart of Philadelphia, visitors can learn about the upholstery trade and view the tools Betsy would have used to create the flag.
Plan your visit: The home is open year round. It is the only museum in the country to have a working 1700’s era upholstery shop.
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins House
15 Hopkins Street (at Benefit Street)
Providence, RI 02903
Stephen Hopkins was governor of Rhode Island, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and cousin to the much more well known name Benedict Arnold. The Hopkins home, built in 1707, housed Hopkins, his family and slaves for almost forty years. After being renovated in 1743, it has remained virtually untouched since. Its most famous house guest was George Washington, and visitors can see the bedchambers where he slept, as well as Hopkins family heirlooms and an 18th century style garden.
Plan your visit: Steps away from Brown University, the house is open year round on Wednesdays and on Saturdays from April to November.
South Carolina: Hampton Plantation
1950 Rutledge Road
McClellanville, SC 29458
This colonial era plantation was home to the Rutledge family — Edward Rutledge was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and his older brother John was a member of the Continental Congress and governor of South Carolina. During the war, the home housed women and children escaping the war. “Swamp Fox” Francis Marion, Patriot officer and considered the modern day “father of guerilla warfare,” hid in its fields as British officers tried to find and capture him. Visitors today can stroll among the magnolia trees, explore the Georgian-style mansion, and learn more about plantation life.
Plan your visit: While the grounds are open daily year round, the mansion is open for guided tours every day except Wednesdays.
931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Thomas Jefferson designed this stunning home at the young age of 26, even though he was never formally trained as an architect. Inspired by the architecture of Roman and European design, the mansion was built in 1772 and was continuously remodeled by Jefferson until his death in 1826. Located in the Southwest Mountains of Virginia, its name Monticello means “little mountain” in Italian and it is the only private home in the United States named a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today’s visitors can tour this stunning home and gardens, view unique Jefferson inventions such as a revolving bookstand and the swivel chair, and learn about the life and role of the approximately 130 slaves who worked on the plantation.
Plan your visit: The very popular tourist destination is open daily, year round.
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About the Author:
Dayna Lombardo has been a history buff since elementary school. These days she enjoys teaching her third grade students about the American Revolution, and dragging her husband and son to museums.