Physick House


Portrait by Artist to Come




Built in 1786 for Henry Hill (1732 - 98), a wealthy Madeira wine importer, this four-story house is the only remaining free-standing Federal style home in Philadelphia proper. It has been restored to the period of 1815 - 37 when Dr. Philip Syng Physick, considered the father of American surgery, lived there.

Available for guided tours.

Charles Willson Peale, despite his devotion to the taxonomic and contemplative majesty of the natural world, nevertheless loved novelties and used all sorts of amusements to attract customers to his museum. He eventually resorted to hiring a popular musical performer who played five different instruments simultaneously, using all parts of his body. Following Peale’s death the museum passed into the enterprising hands of P. T. Barnum, becoming part of his traveling circus — a romantic ending for an Enlightenment institution.

Gordon S. Wood
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)