Historic Structures

Building Description Stenton Mansion - James Logan Home, Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Built by James Logan, circa 1728, Stenton is a two-and-a-half story brick house with a hipped roof, flat deck and dormer windows. The structure measures 40 feet 8 inches in depth by 52 feet in length. The 20-inch-thick brick walls are of Flemish bond, with black headers. The front facade has an Early Georgian simplicity and is completely regular in composition. Semi circular stone steps lead up to the central doorway, oinframed_by_ classic pila^sters. Flanking it are two narrow side-lights, perhaps the earliest instance of this motive in Georgian architecture. The rectangular transom over the door, giving additional light in the entrance hall, is, however, of common occurrance in the architecture of this period. The interruption of the brick belt course over these central openings suggest that there may originally have been a sheltering porch of some kind—perhaps a hood. Rudimentary brick pilasters or piers flank the entrance hall unit and also mark the corners of the house. Large 12x12 light windows divide the facade in regular bays and the first floor windows are topped by segmental arches of gauged brick. Unshaped blocks at the cornice take the place of academic modillions.

Neither the side or rear facades of Stenton are symmetrically composed: here doors and windows occur where demanded by the plan, and even at the odd level of the stair landing in the rear. A covered one-story porch at the back of the house connects to a long story-and-a-half service wing extending about 100 feet to the rear.

The interiors of the house, in the main, are formal. The large square entrance hall is paved with brick and paneled to the ceiling. There is an open fireplace on the right, and beyond an archway in the rear, a smaller hall, where the stairway ascends to the second floor. The staircase has a handrail meeting square newel posts at acute angles rather than at right angles by means of curved ramps and easings, as in a later era. On either side of the main hall are parlors, each with a fireplace and adjoining cupboards. From the parlor on the left a door leads to a small breakfast room at the rear, which is also upon the left of the stair hall. From the parlor on the right a similar door leads to the large dining room in the rear. Each of these rear rooms also has its own fireplace.

Quite unusual was the long library with its range of six windows and two fireplaces, which extended across the entire front of the second story. Here James Logan housed his fine library, one of the best in the colonies. This great room has been subdivided into two room. There were also two small back bedrooms, each with its fireplace, and a small back staircase led from the second floor to the third floor, where the woodwork of the small bedrooms was unpainted.

The interior of the house is maintained by the Society of Colonial Dames. The inventories of Logan's furniture, have been preserved, and through these lists, and many gifts of the Logan family, and various other bequests, the Society has furnished the rooms, using the year 1840 as their terminus ante quern.

No definitive dates have been arrived at for the various outbuildings. It is likely that both the kitchen and the barn were built just before the close of the 18th century, while the two further additions to the kitchen were subsequent to 1800. The detached one-and-a-half story stone kitchen stands at the right rear corner of the house, with its southern wall on a line with the north wall of the main house. The first addition onto the kitchen is the one story orangeiy, which is lined with large windows reaching from the ground almost to the roof on the southern facade. Adjoining the orangery is the carriage house, now converted into rest rooms.

The stone barn stands some 150 feet from the house, to the north. It is presently under restoration by the Society of Colonial Dames. The stone foundations of the ice house are still standing, and there is also a log cabin which was moved to the grounds in the 20th century.