One Building, Four Houses: How Identity Influenced the Historic Forms of the William Brinton 1704 House

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Brinton 1704 House
architectural history
Delaware Valley
change over time
Chester County
Historic Preservation and Conservation
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Hita, Anthony Richard Carlos

Built in 1704 by early Chester County Quaker, William Brinton the Younger (1670-1751), the 1704 House underwent four substantial phases of use and modification--a genteel great house (1704-1752), an ornamental farmhouse (1829-1863), a moral rural homestead (1864-1953), and a Colonial Revival house museum (1954-2018). Each of these phases represented a different owner of the structure who modified it to meet their needs and priorities. This thesis examines who these individuals were, how they were influenced by their own conscious values and subconscious social norms, and why and how they adapted the 1704 House as a result. Today, following a 1954 restoration to its circa 1752 form, the house is interpreted mainly as a family shrine to the early Brintons, with little mention of the two intermediate phases. The overall conclusion drawn from this examination of the major historic phases and actors in the history of the building is that to properly understand the modern 1704 House, one must understand it not as a building interrupted in 1752 and rescued in 1954, but as a continuously changing structure with four distinct periods all connected to one uninterrupted thread to the past. Viewing the 1704 House in this way could also serve to help interprets other sites with histories of change over time in a way that unifies their entire past.

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Suggested Citation: Hita, Anthony Carlos Hita (2018). One Building, Four Houses: How Identity Influenced the Historic Forms of the William Brinton 1704 House (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.
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