Valley Forge National Historical Park | HISTORICAL HOMES AT VALLEY FORGE


VALLEY FORGE HISTORICAL HOMES


There are a number of historical homes within Valley Forge National Historical Park, seven of which existed during the Continental Army’s 1777-78 winter encampment. Many were used as officers’ quarters for some period of time during the encampment (most officers moved out to live with their troops once their cabins were completed). Keep in mind that aside from the home used by George Washington, it is not known for certain which officer stayed at a particular house. Homes have become known by a general’s name based on speculation and oral histories passed down from generation to generation, but rarely are there any actual documents to back up the stories.

Only Washington’s Quarters and Varnum’s Quarters are open to the public, and only during certain times of the year. All others are closed.

WASHINGTON’S QUARTERS

Washington's Headquarters at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Washington’s Headquarters at Valley Forge National Historical Park

The home of Isaac Potts was used as the headquarters for General George Washington and his staff. This is a stop on the Valley Forge Encampment Tour, and there is a lot to see on the property other than the house. Visit the Washington’s Headquarters web page here on National Park Planner for more information.

VARNUM’S QUARTERS

Varnum's Quarters at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Varnum’s Quarters at Valley Forge National Historical Park

The home of David and Elizabeth Stephens is thought to have been used as the quarters for General James Varnum until he moved out to join his Rhode Island and Connecticut troops when his log cabin was completed in February 1778. The house is also a stop on the Valley Forge Encampment Tour. See the General James Varnum’s Quarters web page for more information.

LORD STIRLING’S QUARTERS

Lord Stirling's Quarters / William Currie House at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Lord Stirling’s Quarters / William Currie House at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Major General William Alexander Lord Stirling may have stayed at the house at 555 Yellow Springs Road on the west side of Valley Forge National Historical Park. The house was built in 1769 by Reverend William Currie. The only written account of anyone staying at the house is from a summary of one of Currie’s letters that was recorded in the minutes of the Venerable Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. This written account states that a “general” was quartered at the house, but there is no record of who this general was. There are a few written accounts by authors who retell stories of how Stirling and Currie were friends, thus the assumption that it was Stirling. However, there are no eyewitness reports of him staying at the house.

If Stirling did indeed stay at the Currie House, it is also possible that his aide-de-camp, James Monroe, was also there starting in November 1777 when he arrived at Valley Forge. Monroe later became the fifth president of the United States.

At the time of the Valley Forge encampment, the Currie House was much smaller. The original portion (per the photo above) is the central section and a one-story version of the left wing (the kitchen). It was renovated and expanded four times from 1790 through 1926. There exists an L-shaped addition from 1926, but this cannot be seen in the photo due to the angle it was taken. The National Park Service has been considering renovating the house since 2006, but as of 2022 nothing major has been done, and the house is not open to the public.

Across the street is a large stone barn. This was built in 1803 by Thomas Walker, a subsequent owner of the Currie property. It was modified and enlarged to its present state in 1926. Today it is referred to as Lord Stirling’s Barn despite having nothing to do with Stirling or the American Revolution.

Lord Stirling's Barn at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Lord Stirling’s Barn at Valley Forge National Historical Park

LAFAYETTE’S QUARTERS

The house on Wilson Road that is thought to have been used as the quarters for General Marquis de Lafayette was built around 1763 by property owner Samuel Harvard. The house is located at the end of a private driveway, so I did not attempt to take a photo.

MAXWELL HOUSE

Philander Chase Knox Estate at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Philander Chase Knox Estate at Valley Forge National Historical Park

The large mansion that is now part of the Philander Chase Knox Estate was supposedly used as the quarters of Brigadier General William Maxwell during the Valley Forge encampment, and it is still often referred to as the Maxwell House. As with many of the historical homes at Valley Forge, what you see today is much larger than the house that stood in 1777. Philander Knox, a Pennsylvania politician, purchased the property in 1901. During his ownership, President Theodore Roosevelt spent a night at the house when attending the wedding of Knox’s daughter. The property was sold to the state of Pennsylvania in 1965 and became part of Valley Forge State Park. Today it is a venue for weddings and other events. It is not open to the general public.

KNOX’S QUARTERS

Knox's Quarters at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Knox’s Quarters at Valley Forge National Historical Park

The house now known as Knox’s Quarters is located on Knox Trail on the southwest side of Valley Forge National Historical Park. Samuel Brown built the house circa 1750. It is supposedly where General Henry Knox stayed for a short while before moving into a cabin with his troops. Knox was the Chief of Artillery for the Continental Army, though he is better remembered as the man for whom Fort Knox is named. General Knox, by the way, is not related to Philander Knox.

Knox’s Quarters is much bigger today than it was in 1777. Referring to the photo above, the original house extended from the left side to just right of the window above the center door. The rest of the white section of the building was added sometime between 1825 and 1925. The stone additions—two of them—were added in 1975, the year before Valley Forge State Park became Valley Forge National Historical Park. Don’t ask me why more house was added in modern times. Historians for some reason must have thought these sections existed in 1777 and decided to reconstruct them, and now historians think otherwise. The house is not open to the public.

DAVID POTTS HOUSE

David Potts House at Valley Forge National Historical Park

David Potts House at Valley Forge National Historical Park

The David Potts House is located on Valley Forge Road on the northwest side of Valley Forge National Historical Park. Behind it is his brother Isaac’s house, better known today as Washington’s Headquarters. You can walk over to David’s house during a visit to Washington’s Headquarters, though it is not open to the public.

Today the David Potts House is often referred to by two nicknames. One is the Ironmaster’s House due to Potts’s stake in the local iron forges, and the second is the Bake House. During the Continental Army’s winter encampment, it was used by Washington’s baker-general to bake bread in the working ovens on the bottom floor. Court martials and theatrical productions were also held here during the encampment.

The David Potts House was built in the 1740s, though it was much smaller than it is today. It was remodeled into a Victorian villa in 1854 and used as a hotel in 1878. It was partially restored in 1975, the last year that Valley Forge State Park existed.

Back side of the David Potts House at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Back side of the David Potts House at Valley Forge National Historical Park

MAURICE STEPHENS HOUSE

Maurice Stephens House at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Maurice Stephens House at Valley Forge National Historical Park

The Maurice Stephens House was built around 1816, so it played no part in the history of the Valley Forge encampment. However, the Stephens Family owned the land at the time, and the Continental Army used it as the parade grounds for training, drilling, and inspections during its winter stay. There was supposedly a log house on or near this spot during the war that may have been used as the quarters of General Jedediah Huntington. The log house was torn down and replaced by the current house. A stone spring house on the property was also most likely built after the Revolution. The property changed owners six times after the Stephens sold it in 1825. It became part of Valley Forge State Park in 1919.

Back of the Maurice Stephens House at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Back of the Maurice Stephens House at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Spring house on the Maurice Stephens farm at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Spring house on the Maurice Stephens farm at Valley Forge National Historical Park

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Last updated on August 3, 2022
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