Ben!

Read before entering Franklin Court off Chestnut Street.

If I could meet one historical figure from the past, it would be Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin Court, where Ben Franklin lived, is situated between Chestnut and Market Streets in Old City/Philadelphia.

Ben’s 3-story house had ten rooms and once stood in the courtyard. The house was torn down in 1812. His grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, had a house a few steps away. The frame in the photo above outlines where the Bache’s house stood. There is also a frame for Ben’s house too; it was built for the Bicentennial.

I walked through the courtyard and turned the handle on the back door to the United States Postal Service Museum but it was locked. Ben was a Postmaster General. In 1737, he was postmaster in Philadelphia under the British Parliamentary Post. By 1753 he had been promoted as one of two Deputy Postmasters.

I proceeded through the brick archway and out to Market Street. Ben walked through the archway daily during the years that he lived in the courtyard.

I tried the front entrance to the post office but that door was locked there too.

Did you know that this is the only active post office in the United States that does not fly a United States flag–because in 1775 there wasn’t a flag.

I walked back into the courtyard and turned right and went to the Printing Office and Bindery. Franklin’s printing office no longer survives but the equipment in this printing office is similar to what he would have used.

I turned the doorknob and it was locked.

On busy spring and summer days when it becomes crowded, park rangers bring in groups of up to 60 people every 10 minutes for a printing demonstration. But last Thursday I was the only person in the courtyard other than one or two other people passing through taking photos. I love visiting museums in the winter when they’re virtually crowd-free.

As I stood in the courtyard pondering about Ben and his house that is no longer there, a park ranger came out of one of the doors (in the above photo). He told me that normally the post office museum and printing office is open to visitors but due to the new administration, they’re temporarily closed. I said, “What do you mean?” He explained that their aren’t enough park rangers and this sort of thing happens with every new administration. He said, “Hopefully, by the end of March when the school groups arrive, they’ll be open

He gave me a lot of information about Ben living in the courtyard toward the end of his life, after returning from many years living in Europe. When he returned to Philadelphia for the last five years of his life, he was old and had difficulty walking due to gout.

He suggested that I visit the Ben Franklin Museum which is also located in the courtyard and is actually underground.

When I walked down a flight of stairs and entered the museum this was one of the first signs I read. In the 9500 sf museum, visitors have the opportunity to reflect, along with Benjamin Franklin himself, on his life and accomplishments with 30 interactives/computer animations.

Ben Franklin said a lack of frugality will cause financial ruin and said that temptations lead people to spend foolishly. Among his many proverbs that he wrote in “Poor Richard’s Almanack,” “Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.” (Watch out on how much you spend on your daily latte!)

Some things simply don’t change!

Click here to read a neat article on Benjamin Franklin’s Daily Routine Experiment on Business Insider.

Admission: $5 Adults & $2 (16 & under)

Hours: 9am to 5pm Daily

4 thoughts on “Ben!

  1. Thanks Sue for your time in sharing a slice of history and your sunny day looked really good as I’m sick of the rain here in Wine Country CA.

    BTW the other day my neighbor gave me a bouquet of flowers she picked up at the local market for doing some odd jobs for her and they died off by day three and thus far I’ve not seen flower arrangements anywhere that can hold a candle to yours.

    I’d love it if you had a 30 minute show on PBS and were able to share all of your decorating skills and do it with some field trips. I think it would be greatly received and now more than ever as there’s a big void since Martha has taken to cooking exclusively.

  2. Did you see that he had an inside bathroom? He actually had in indoor toliet which was unheard of back then. Out side in Franklin court there are some openings where they had found some remains of Franklins house and, one was called a privie pit which was part of his indoor plumbing and,a few feet from there are some remains of a kitchen. Ben Franklin was a man ahead of his times with some of his inventions.
    I wonder what he would have to say about todays inventions> IE: cell phones and, the internet?

    Next time you are in Old City go to Elfreds Alley you can actually tour the inside of one of the homes there. This is the oldest lived on street in America.

    Philly is rich and,alive in history. I live in Philly and,as a child spent much time in old city.

    1. The park ranger told showed me the privie pit and mentioned indoor plumbing. Franklin was a beyond clever with his inventions (and what about the “Franklin” stove). He even came up with swimming fins.

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