The Henry George Birthplace Rehabilitation and Restoration Projects

Collection Overview

Title: The Henry George Birthplace Rehabilitation and Restoration Projects

Predominant Dates: 1957-1989

Arrangement: Arranged chronologically in five series. Series one: Correspondence and documents related to the Henry George Birthplace Rehabilitation Project, 1957-1960; Series two: Correspondence, drawings, and other documents related to the Nomination and Entry of the Henry George Birthplace in the National Registry of Historic Buildings, 1980-1983; Series three: Correspondence, drawings, and other documents related to the Henry George Birthplace Restoration Project, 1987-1989; Series four: Photographs, documents, and printed ephemera related to the Henry George Birthplace; and, Series five: Furniture and oversize material on loan and donated to the Henry George Birthplace.

 Biographical Note

Sometime between 1801 and 1808 Edward Harlin purchased the site where the Henry George Birthplace currently stands and built a one story frame house. The original structure consisted of a front room, two back rooms, a second floor attic, a kitchen, and a cellar. When Harlin died in 1820, the property transferred to George F. Smith, who later rented the house to Henry George’s family. Henry George was born in the house on September 2, 1839.

At some point during the 1840s[1], George’s family moved to a larger dwelling at 814 S. Third Street. According to some sources, George resided at the Third Street home until he moved to California in 1858.[2] Others sources, however, indicate that George’s family moved multiple times during the 1850s.[3] The Third Street house, like all of George’s other residences, no longer stands. The Henry George Birthplace at 413 S. 10th Street is the only surviving residence connected to Henry George.

Henry George’s Birthplace exchanged hands several times after the George’s family moved out. Between 1898 and 1926 the house was owned by Thomas S. K. Morton who raised the building to three stories. The Henry George Foundation of America owned the house from 1926 until 1957, when it sold the dwelling to the current owner, the Henry George School of Social Science (HGSS).

The HGSS commissioned minor renovations to the building in 1957 and the Philadelphia Branch of the School moved in shortly thereafter. In 1976 the Birthplace was first nominated for the National Registry of Historic Places. According to collection documents, “Inspired by the approach of the 100th anniversary of Progress & Poverty in 1979,” the HGSS established the Henry George Birthplace Building and Restoration Fund. Philadelphia Architects Charles Peterson and Jim Collins were hired to prepare drawings for the Historical American Buildings Survey. In 1983, the Henry George Birthplace was officially entered in the National Register of Historic Places and a new historical marker was approved by the City of Philadelphia.

Once again inspired by an upcoming anniversary—the Sesquicentennial of George’s birth—the HGSS embarked upon another renovation project in 1987. School officials re-hired Charles Peterson and James Collins to restore the Birthplace to its original 1839 appearance. From July 29 to August 6, 1989, the HGSS held the Henry George Sesquicentennial Anniversary International Conference, celebrating not only the 150 anniversary of George’s birth but also the completed restoration.

Collection Content

Series One: Correspondence and documents related to the Henry George Birthplace Rehabilitation Project, 1957-1960

Letter from Agnes George de Mille seeking donations and contributions for the Henry George Restoration Project, August 1957
Contributors to the Renovation of the Henry George Birthplace, 1957
Contributors to the Memorial Room and Second Floor Restoration, 1960
Mabel L. Rees, “The Best Survives,” circa 1960
Description of the Items in the Second Floor Restored Bedroom

Series Two: Correspondence, drawings, and other documents related to the Nomination and Entry of the Henry George Birthplace in the National Registry of Historic Buildings, 1980-1983

Charles E. Peterson to George L. Collins, August 11, 1980
Charles E. Peterson to George L. Collins, August 26, 1980
Charles E. Peterson to George L. Collins, October 8, 1980
Charles E. Peterson to George L. Collins, September 3, 1980
Charles E. Peterson to George L. Collins, September 9, 1980
Henry George’s Home, February 5, 1981
Henry George Birthplace Photograph, circa 1900
James S. Collins to George L. Collins, September 1, 1982 with copies of the Historic American Building Survey Drawings
James S. Collins to George L. Collins, October 28, 1982 with copies of the National Register Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form
Copy of the Certificate of the Entry of the Henry George Birthplace into the National Register of Historic Places, April 1, 1983
Confirmation Letter from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, May 2, 1983
Philadelphia Art Commission Approval of the New Historical Marker for the Henry George Birthplace, August 16, 1984
Regards from Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh, 1984

Series Three: Correspondence, drawings, and other documents related to the Henry George Birthplace Restoration Project, 1987-1989

Charles E. Peterson to George L. Collins, November 12, 1987
Collins-Rosenberg Architects to Ed Dodson, July 19, 1988
Collins-Rosenberg Architects Drawings for Proposed Restoration, July 19, 1988
Collins-Rosenberg Architects to George Collins, September 14, 1988
Collins-Rosenberg Architects to George Collins with Construction Proposal, September 14, 1988
Memorandum to Henry George School Trustees from Ed Dodson, September 23, 1988
Collins-Rosenberg to Philadelphia Historical Commission, November 7, 1988
Correspondence with the City of Philadelphia and James S. Collins for Building Permits, October to November 1988
Collins-Rosenberg to Thomas J. Colin, Editor of Historic Preservation Magazine, March, 1, 1989
Long and Tann, Inc. to Jim Collins, March 29, 1989
Envelope made for the Henry George Sesquicentennial Anniversary International Conference, July 29, 1989
George L. Collins, Restoring a National Treasure, July 30, 1989

Series Four: Photographs, documents, and printed ephemera related to the Henry George Birthplace Rehabilitation and Restoration Projects

[Not all documents in this series are available to the public due to privacy concerns]

Photographs of the front of the Birthplace:

Circa 1900
Circa 1934
Circa 1957
Circa 1989

Photographs of the inside of the Birthplace before and after restoration, 1988:

Before_1
Before_2
Before_3
Before_4
Before_5

After_1
After_2
After_3

Correspondence between Michael Curtis and Mary Anne F. Anderson, 1989-1991
Copy of the Henry George Birthplace Entry into the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance Directory, 1994
Inventory of Memorabilia at the Henry George Birthplace as of March 15, 2004
Lucia M. Cipolloni to Don Hurford, June 16, 2004
Richard L. Biddle to Anderson Ferrell, November 8, 2006

Series Five: Furniture and Oversized Objects Donated and/or Loaned to the Henry George School of Social Science for the Restoration

Table upon which Henry George composed Progress and Poverty (believed to have been donated by Dr. Henry George, III of Wilmington, DE)
Bed, original from the George household (on loan from Agnes De Mille and Family)
Embroidered Picture from “Tempest” completed by one of Henry George’s Aunts (on loan from Agnes De Mille and Family)
Small white pitcher, original from the George household (donated by Agnes De Mille and Family)
Henry George’s Sea chest (contributed to the Birthplace from the New York Public Library)


[1] The exact date is disputed. Some sources cite 1844 as the year the family moved to Third Street, others give 1849.

[2] See “Henry George’s Home,” 1991.

[3] See The National Register of Historic Places Inventory—Nomination Form for the Henry George Birthplace, 1982.

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