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George Taylor House



The George Taylor House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1] Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group. Photo: George Taylor House. [2]

Description

Built by Philadelphia carpenters in 1788, the George Taylor Mansion is a two-story-over-elevated basement, Georgian stone house with symmetrically paired brick end-chimneys and a gable roof with flattered ridge. The walls, 24 inches thick, are of stone masonry rubble and finished with a thick slaked-line stucco that gives the house its white appearance. The windows are topped by flat arches of gauged brick; those on the first story are adorned by exterior solid paneled shutters and the openings on the upper floor have louvered blinds. A heavy overhanging cornice runs completely around the structure at eave level. The two-story stone kitchen wing which adjoins the main house at the south end was built on the main axis around 1800.

The main house, rectangular in shape, is five bays wide and two bays deep. A flight of marble pyramidal steps leads up to the center door in the west or main facade. Topped by a rectangular transom and a triangular pediment, the double door opens into a central hall that extends through the house. The hall is divided near midpoint by means of an archway with fluted pilasters. The stairs are located in the rear portion of the hall and are set against the north (left) wall. The hall divides the four first-floor rooms into pairs: The living room and parlor are on the left and the dining room and reception (or service) room on the right. Doors in the parlor, living room, and dining room are topped by finely executed pediments and their fireplace walls are fully paneled. Other walls in these rooms have paneled wainscots and finely detailed chair rails. The dining room fireplace panelling and mantle date from the early 19th century and are of the Greek Revival period, but the other first-floor panelling and mantles are original (18th century). The floors of wide pine boards are original as is most of the iron hardware.

The second floor contains four bedrooms and two small dressing rooms. The two bedrooms on the west (front) side of the house have almost as elaborate panelling at their fireplaces as those downstairs. The attic was unfinished. A short distance to the east or rear of the house is a one and a half story brick summer kitchen which was built around 1850. The mansion has been carefully restored, is in excellent condition, and is open to visitors.

This stone house was the home of George Taylor, a signer of the Declaration of Independence for Pennsylvania, ironmaster, and politician from 1768 to March 1776. Built for Taylor in 1768, the little altered house has been carefully restored and is open to visitors.

A Brief Sketch of the Life of George Taylor, 1716-1781

Born in 1716, probably in northern Ireland, George Taylor came to Pennsylvania as an indentured servant in 1736. He was put to work as a clerk at the Warwick Iron Furnace and Coventry Forge in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and by 1739 had become manager of this 1796-acre plantation. In 1742 he married Mrs. Anne Taylor Savage, widow of the ironmaster for whom Taylor had been working. About 1757 Taylor moved to the Durham Furnace, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, which he and a partner leased. From 1757 to 1778 Taylor's business interests were to be largely centered on the 8511-acre Durham plantation, which was located about 10 miles south of Easton, Pennsylvania.

After 1763, however, Taylor lived much of the time at or near Easton, in Northampton County, which became the scene of his political activities. From 1769 to 1770 he was a member of the Pennsylvania assembly. In July 1775 he was elected to a colonelcy in the Bucks County militia. Sent to the Pennsylvania Assembly in October 1775, Taylor served with distinction on important committees and helped draft instructions to delegates to the Continental Congress in November. On July 20, 1776, Taylor was appointed to the Continental Congress with Clymer, Ross, Rush, and Smith to replace the Pennsylvania delegates who refused to sign the Declaration of Independence. Taylor signed the engrossed copy of that document on August 2, or thereafter, but took no other part in the activities of Congress, except to represent it, with George Walton, at a conference with Indians at Easton in January 1777. Taylor evidently quit Congress soon afterward. In March 1777 he was elected from Northampton County to the new Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, but because of illness he served only six weeks and then retired from active public affairs.

From August 1775 to 1778 Taylor was also greatly involved in the production at the Durham Furnace of grape shot, cannon balls, bar shot, and cannon for the Revolutionary armies. In 1778 Taylor was dispossessed of his lease of the Durham Furnace (which had been owned by the Philadelphia Loyalist John Galloway) by the Commissioner of Forfeited Estates. Taylor then leased the Greenwich Forge in Greenwich Township, New Jersey, which he operated until 1781. In April 1780 he moved from the Greenwich Forge to Easton, Pennsylvania, where he died on February 23, 1781. He was buried in the churchyard of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Easton. On April 30, 1870, his body was moved to its present site in the Easton Cemetery and reburied by a tall monument that had been erected in his honor in 1854.

History of the George Taylor Mansion

In 1767 George and Anne Taylor purchased a 331 acre tract of land called the "Manor of Chawton," is what is now a part of Catasauqua. Here, on the east bank of the Lehigh River and located about 15 miles west of Easton, they built a home in 1768. It was in this stone house later in the same year that Mrs. Taylor died. In 1771 Taylor leased most of the land out as a farm and in March 1776 he sold the house and land to John Benezet, a Philadelphia merchant. The Taylor House and five acres of land were acquired by the Lehigh County Historical Society in 1945. The Taylor House was restored under the direction of John K. Heyl in 1966-1968 and is now open to visitors as an historic house exhibit.

A state historical marker, located on Front Street at Poplar Street, on block below the house reads: "GEORGE TAYLOR HOUSE - The home of the Signer of the Declaration of Independence is just opposite to the rear of the Mill Building. Built in 1768, now owned by the Lehigh County Historical Society."

  1. Snell, Charles W., George Taylor House, 1971, nomination document, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
  2. Photo, George Taylor House, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, www.arch.state.pa.us

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