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“Wyck,” Reuben Haines House

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1690; 1715; 1738; c. 1771–1777; 1824, William Strickland. 6026 Germantown Ave.

Wyck was given to the Germantown Historical Society in 1973, along with all of its collections, having been in the possession of a single family for two centuries. Now operated by the Wyck Association as a historical house, it offers a remarkable insight into the evolving material culture of a wealthy American family. Its building history is tortuous: the western section was built c. 1690 for Hans Milan, shortly after the founding of Germantown. An eastern house was added in the early eighteenth century, and eventually connected to the original section by about 1775. The passage between the houses became an open, shaded living hall (and since 1845, with the addition of sliding glass panels, a winter conservatory). The house acquired its definitive form in 1824 when it was adapted as a summerhouse for Reuben Haines by William Strickland, who removed the great central chimney and eliminated partitions to open larger spaces for greater flexibility. His key inspiration was to reverse the hierarchy of the house by making the small tenant house into a parlor. Haines's lament about the extent of the project is familiar to all who have rehabilitated buildings: “Thee very well knows few if any ever begin a career of vice! or commence the repair of an old building that stop exactly at the point they intended.” The frame arbor over the house became a famous domestic motif of the region, being adapted by Frank Miles Day for his own Colonial Revival house, “Hickory Hill,” at 905 W. Mount Airy Avenue, as well as Lloyd Hall (see DE36.2), Cope and Stewardson's domestically scaled dormitory at Haverford College of 1898–1899.

Writing Credits

Author: 
George E. Thomas
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Citation

George E. Thomas, "“Wyck,” Reuben Haines House", [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/PA-02-PH160.

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, 140-141.

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