Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial | MEMORIAL HOUSE

Thaddeus Kosciuszko Memorial House

Thaddeus Kosciuszko Memorial House

OPERATING HOURS

The Thaddeus Kosciuszko Memorial House is open weekends from 12 PM to 4 PM, April through October.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial is housed inside the former boarding house of Ann Relf. It is here that Kosciuszko stayed from November 1797 to May 1798 when he returned to the United States after leading an unsuccessful Polish rebellion against the Russians in 1794. Due to his battle wounds, which included a nearly paralyzed leg, he spent most of the time in his second floor room. During his stay in Philadelphia, the house was the center of activity as politicians, society people, and foreign dignitaries often came to visit. His most favorite guest was Thomas Jefferson, who at the time was Vice President of the United States. He also spent time drawing portraits of his many female admirers.

The Kosciuszko Memorial House is located at 3rd and Pine streets in the Society Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia. If you are visiting the historic downtown area, which is part of Independence National Historical Park, you can walk to the house from Independence Hall in about fifteen minutes (.6 mile, one way). Society Hill is a very ritzy neighborhood, so you don’t have to worry much about your safety. I highly suggest walking, for the atmosphere of the neighborhood is something right out of the 1700s, and you feel as if you might run into Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson at any moment. Furthermore, parking at the site is a hassle, for it is street parking only. There is a parking garage near Independence Visitor Center at 6th and Market streets.

The National Park property now consists of the Relf House and the adjoining house, with the Relf House being the façade along Pine Street. There are no surrounding grounds to explore. At 900 square feet, the Kosciuszko National Memorial is the smallest unit in the National Park system, and despite being within walking distance of the 15th most visited park in 2019—Independence National Historical Park—the memorial is usually one of the six least visited parks, with less than 2,000 guests in 2019. This can be attributed to the fact that very few people in America know who Kosciuszko is, plus the house is only open eight hours a week, and only from April through October. According to a park Ranger, most visitors are either Polish tourists—one side of the park brochure is printed in Polish—people of Polish descent, or people who are trying to visit as many National Parks as possible.

KOSCIUSZKO MUSEUM

The Memorial House is essentially a Kosciuszko museum. First floor exhibits include a variety of Kosciuszko memorabilia and information panels that tell the story of his life. The park Ranger desk is also located on this floor. Tours of the museum are self-guided, so if you have any questions, the Ranger is the person to ask. You can also ask questions about Independence National Historical Park and another nearby park, Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site.

Information panels tell the story of Thaddeus Kosciuszko

Information panels tell the story of Thaddeus Kosciuszko

US and Polish commemorative coins

US and Polish commemorative coins

Portraits of Kosciuszko decorate the walls of the second floor, and you can watch a 6-minute documentary that plays on demand with the push of a button. The film, which is nothing more than a series of illustrations accompanied by narration, covers Kosciuszko’s participation in the American Revolution and only briefly mentions his life outside of this time. There is no objectionable material, so it is suitable for all ages.

Second floor portrait gallery and media room

Second floor portrait gallery and media room

There is also a room decorated with period furnishings and items similar to those that Kosciuszko owned, all based on the writings of Thomas Jefferson. I don’t believe anyone knows with certainty which room he stayed in, other than that it was on the second floor. Remember, this is a memorial, not a historic site, so the house and its interior are not the focus of the park. It is simply the house’s physical connection to Kosciuszko that makes it a fitting location for the memorial and museum.

Memorial room to Thaddeus Kosciuszko

Memorial room to Thaddeus Kosciuszko

SCHEDULING YOUR TIME

I spent about fifty minutes at the Memorial House, and I tend to be much more thorough than the average tourist. Thus, unless you fall asleep somewhere and go unnoticed—and with only a few people visiting each day this may be possible—expect to spend anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour for your visit to the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial.

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Last updated on May 14, 2020
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