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Joseph Priestley House

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1798. 472 Priestley Ave.
  • (© George E. Thomas)

Soon after arriving in Northumberland, Joseph Priestley built this central-hall two-story house overlooking the Susquehanna River. Constructed with kiln-dried lumber, the white clapboard house with its balustraded roof is more typical of New England than eastern Pennsylvania and indicative of the influence of Connecticut settlements in the region. Priestley's house is reached by a circular drive and incorporates sophisticated features that attest to his education and aspirations: fanlight entranceways, dentiled cornices, a second-story Palladian window, and other features of the graceful Adam style imported from his native country. Symmetrical one-story wings house the summer kitchen and the laboratory where Priestley, who had identified oxygen in 1774, isolated carbon dioxide in 1799. Operated by Pennsylvania State University as a museum since 1926, the Priestley House is designated a National Historic Landmark and a National Historic Chemical Landmark.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas


What's Nearby


George E. Thomas, "Joseph Priestley House", [Northumberland, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 2

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, George E. Thomas, with Patricia Likos Ricci, Richard J. Webster, Lawrence M. Newman, Robert Janosov, and Bruce Thomas. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 399-400.

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