Room from the Powel House, Philadelphia


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 722

The house at 244 South Third Street in Philadelphia from which this room was taken was constructed in 1765–66 by shipmaster and merchant Charles Stedman. Declining fortunes forced Stedman to sell the house almost immediately after its completion and it was purchased on August 2, 1769, by Samuel Powel for ₤3,150. Powel was the wealthy young scion of a notable Philadelphia family. Educated at the College of Philadelphia (later the University of Pennsylvania), he embarked on a seven-year-long Grand Tour of Europe. He purchased the house on South Third Street five days before he married Elizabeth Willing and almost immediately set about renovating it to reflect the new couple's wealth, taste, and refinement. Located behind the ballroom on the house's second floor, the room's initial function is unclear. It may have been used in conjunction with the ballroom for refreshments; or it may have been the house's best bedchamber. Powel employed some of Philadelphia's finest craftsman in the remodeling. The room's marble fireplace surrounds, the crossetted overmantle, and the verdigris-painted foliate ornament reflected the most up-to-date Georgian taste in Philadelphia. Powel would go on to serve as the last mayor of Philadelphia under British rule, and the first after the Revolution. He frequently entertained such luminaries as George Washington and John Adams, who referred to the house with its fine decoration as a "splendid seat."

Room from the Powel House, Philadelphia, Wood and plaster, American

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View towards southwest of room (18.87.1-.4) as installed in galleries, including: chandelier (48.159), table (18.110.13) and carpet (1980.1)