Built in 1787, The Morris House takes its name from the generations of the Morris Family who occupied it for more than one hundred and twenty years. Today the Morris House remains one of the finest lasting examples of Colonial residential architecture in Philadelphia.
Though construction did not begin until after the struggle for American Independence the design of the Morris house is Colonial in style and pre-Revolutionary in character. Thanks to a dedicated preservation effort, the building remains true it its original architectural design, making it one of the most handsome historic brick residences in Philadelphia. The elegance and distinction of the façade are unexcelled in early American city architecture.
The year 1790 opened Philadelphia’s most brilliant decade as the first capital of the United States. In those days, residents of the Morris House could wave from their windows at Thomas Jefferson returning from an evening stroll to his home on High Street (now Market) only three blocks away. George Washington would drive by in his cream colored French coach determined to set a precedent of dignity in the new office of President of the United States. As these great man influenced the social and political landscapes of the time, so too did the Morris family.
Early colonist Anthony Morris, settling in William Penn’s “green country towne” in 1685, was a preacher, brew master and judge who became one of the first mayors of Philadelphia. Anthony Morris’ grandson Samuel was the founder of the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club, a group that contributed twenty-two horsemen to the Continental Army’s First Troop of Philadelphia City Cavalry of which Samuel was the captain. Luke Wistar Morris, a prominent Philadelphia figure and successful manufacturer, was Samuel Morris’ son.
In 1914 the Morris family restored the north and south sides of the house to their original glory. After tearing down an adjoining house, the reclaimed land was added to the spectacular garden area. Barring very minor changes, the architecture of the house has not been altered to this day.
In 1967 the Morris House, for its lasting contribution to our city and country’s history, was designated a National Historic Landmark.
Today the Morris House at 225 South Eighth Street is a window into the colonial past. It has become a landmark to be visited and appreciated, one of many historic gems tucked away in the neighborhoods of Philadelphia. The graceful old colonial house that has seen the making of so much history has itself become a part of it.