Dr. William Shippen (1712-1801) commissioned the house during the Revolution when he was the chief of medicine for the Continental army; he was also the cousin of Peggy, whose courtship by Benedict Arnold led to catastrophe for George Washington's best general. Corner city houses such as this offered the opportunity to place the door on the side, with front parlor, central stair hall, and rear room unencumbered by an entrance vestibule. Its later owner, Dr. Caspar Wistar (1761-1818), was president of the American Philosophical Society and presided over the famous Wistar parties where the leading intellectuals of the city conversed.
The house later became the offices of the Mutual Assurance Company for Insuring Houses Against Losses by Fire that was long known for its emblem of a green tree. The company chose its sign because it would insure houses with street trees that were forbidden by the Philadelphia Contributionship on