“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Upper Merion Township in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Did You Know?

Did You Know? Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, September 13, 2014
1. Did You Know? Marker
Who owned and lived in the building when Washington arrived?
The house was built for Isaac Potts, and iron master who was one of the owners of the Valley Forge. At the time of the winter encampment in 1777, he was not living there but had rented to his aunt, Deborah Hewes.

What was the building used for before the winter encampment?
This was a relatively new dwelling built sometime between 1768 and 1770, one of the number of houses in this small, rural, industrial village.

Did the military seize the house for their use in 1777?
General Washington felt strongly that the American army should hold itself to a high standard. Unlike the common European practice, the American military generally did not forcibly seize property. The Continental Army paid Isaac Potts 100 pounds in Pennsylvania currency for the use of the house. Relative to the times, this was probably a fair amount.

Did Washington really sleep here?
George and Martha Washington slept here, as did many of the General’s aides-de-camp, or secretaries. The bedrooms are located on the second floor.

Did You Know? Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, September 13, 2014
2. Did You Know? Marker
Washington's Headquarters in the background.
Click or scan to see
this page online
many people lived in Headquarters?

As many as 25 people, all part of Washington's military household might have lived here. This included Washington, his aides-de-camp and other military staff, as well as the housekeeper, cooks, maids and servants, both free and enslaved.

Are the furnishings authentic?
The majority of the furnishings are reproductions of the items known to be used by General Washington and his military family during the encampment. In addition, there are items similar to what would have been left behind by Deborah Hewes when she rented the house to General Washington. Some items from the period are present.

Does the building look the same as it did in 1777 or has it been remodeled?
The larger selection of the building has the same appearance it had in 1777. Research, archaeological instructional investigation, and anecdotal histories have offered different views of the building through the years, leading to the most recent restoration in 1975. During the encampment, General Washington found the house to be too small, and added a log structure (now gone) to accommodate the large numbers living and working in the house.

Did Washington receive a salary is Commander-in-Chief of the Army?
Washington refused to accept any pay for his services. He kept a detailed expense account, which
Washington’s Headquarters image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, August 6, 2009
3. Washington’s Headquarters
was submitted to and paid by the government.

What happened to the house after the revolution?
The property was used as a family home until 1878 when it was purchased by the Centennial and Memorial Association of Valley Forge for the purpose of preservation and commemoration of the encampment. In 1893 the state of Pennsylvania acquired the home and surrounding lands—forming Pennsylvania's first state park. In 1976 stewardship passed to the National Park Service.

(lower left) 1861. This is the earliest known photograph of Washington’s Headquarters, taken when it was still a private residence.
(center) 1880. This very early photo shows a two-story kitchen wing on the left of the building as well as a two-story structure at the rear
(upper right) 1905. The kitchen is reduced to one story and a fence and entry portal define the front.
(middle right) 1915. Headquarters is promoted as a destination for horse-drawn carriages as well as automobiles
(lower right) 1960s. The kitchen wing on the left side of the building is raised the two stories.

Since the national park was established in 1976, further restoration has been done on the building and grounds. As you look at the Headquarters, can you tell what has changed since the 1960 photo?
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Valley Forge National Historical Park.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Revolutionary. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #01 George Washington, and the George Washington Slept Here series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1777.
Location. 40° 6.136′ N, 75° 27.663′ W. Marker is in Upper Merion Township, Pennsylvania, in Montgomery County. Marker can be reached from Valley Forge Park Road (Pennsylvania Route 23) 0.3 miles east of Gulph Road, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: King of Prussia PA 19406, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. War Comes to Valley Forge (within shouting distance of this marker); Washington’s Headquarters (within shouting distance of this marker); Remembering Valley Forge (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Commander in Chief’s Guards (about 400 feet away); The Village of Valley Forge (about 500 feet away); Valley Creek (about 500 feet away); American Icon (about 500 feet away); Headquarters Complex (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Upper Merion Township.
Also see . . .  Valley Forge National Historical Park. National Park Service (Submitted on September 14, 2014.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 4, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 14, 2014, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 373 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 14, 2014, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.

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May. 28, 2022