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“Knowlton,” William H. Rhawn House

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1880, Frank Furness. 8001 Verree Rd.

Among the several dozen large country houses that marked northeast Philadelphia's post–Civil War transition from farm to suburb, none is more remarkable than Furness's giant slate-covered tent that provided its own shade above a moderately sized summerhouse. Furness carefully sited the house to moderate the region's summer heat by placing the tall mass on the east and a porch shading and surrounding the parlor on the west. With a large central hall and attic dormers, the house could be ventilated by drawing air from the ground up through the interior. Rhawn's daybook survives, which records every step of the construction of the house from the first of Furness's eleven site visits on January 13, 1880, to his last on April 27, 1881. Philadelphia cabinetmaker William Smith provided the interior paneling and fireplaces in a mixture of Japonesque and geometric Eastlake-influenced style. Now used for catering, it can be visited by the public.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas


What's Nearby


George E. Thomas, "“Knowlton,” William H. Rhawn 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, 157-157.

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