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“Grumblethorpe,” John Wister House

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1744; 1898; 1957–1958 restored, G. Edwin Brumbaugh and George Clarence Johnson. 5267 Germantown Ave.
  • (Photograph by Matthew Aungst)
  • (HABS)
  • (HABS)

The principal building on this site served as John Wister's summer house. A pair of doors opens in the German fashion, one into the hall and the other into the west parlor. The front is constructed of squared ashlar with stucco over rubble for the sides, rear, and the rear wing. A massive pent eave across the front and side facades between the first and second floors, and a balcony above the east door, were removed in the early nineteenth century when the house was adapted to look as Federal as could be achieved with an off-center main door. These elements were largely re-created by Brumbaugh during the ancestor worship fervor that dominated Philadelphia after World War II. The house was renamed “Grumblethorpe,” from the title of an early-nineteenth-century novel, but as with so much colonial myth, it stuck. The tenant house at 5269 Germantown Avenue also dates from 1744 and is a smaller and simpler version of the main house.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas


What's Nearby


George E. Thomas, "“Grumblethorpe,” John Wister House", [Philadelphia, 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, 138-139.

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