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Samuel Osgood House

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Samuel Osgood House
The First Presidential Mansion.jpg
First Presidential Mansion,
occupied by George Washington,
April 1789 – February 1790
General information
Address1 Cherry Street
Town or cityNew York City
CountryUnited States
Coordinates40°42′34.3″N 74°00′05.4″W / 40.709528°N 74.001500°W / 40.709528; -74.001500
Construction started1770
ClientWalter Franklin

The Samuel Osgood House (demolished in 1856), also known as the Walter Franklin House, was an eighteenth-century mansion at the northeast corner of what was Pearl and Cherry (today Dover) streets in what is now Civic Center, Manhattan, New York City. It served as the first U.S. Presidential Mansion, housing George Washington, his family, and household staff, from April 23, 1789, to February 23, 1790, during New York City's two-year term as the national capital.

Origin and use as presidential residence

The owner, Samuel Osgood, was a Massachusetts politician and lawyer, who settled in New York City. He married Maria Bowne Franklin, widow of Walter Franklin, the merchant who had built the house in 1770.[1] Congress rented it for Washington's use, and the President-Elect moved in a week before his April 30, 1789, inauguration as first President of the United States. In addition to living quarters, the Osgood House contained the President's private office (the equivalent of the Oval Office) and the public business office (the equivalent of the West Wing), making it the first seat of the executive branch of the federal government.

The Samuel Osgood Papers, at the New York Historical Society, list purchases made to prepare the mansion for Washington occupancy.

I went the morning before the General's arrival to look at it. The best of furniture in every room, and the greatest quantity of plate and china I ever saw; the whole of the first and second stories is papered and the floors covered with the richest kinds of Turkey and Wilton carpets. There is scarcely anything talked about now but General Washington and the Palace.[2]

The Washington Family by Edward Savage (1789–96). Savage painted this near-life-size group portrait from sketches he made at the Osgood House in December 1789 and January 1790.
The Washington Family by Edward Savage (1789–96). Savage painted this near-life-size group portrait from sketches he made at the Osgood House in December 1789 and January 1790.

Steward Samuel Fraunces, former owner of nearby Fraunces Tavern, managed a household staff of about 20: wage workers, indentured servants, and enslaved servants. Slavery was legal in New York, and Washington brought seven enslaved Africans from Mount Vernon to work in his presidential household: William Lee, Christopher Sheels, Giles, Paris, Austin, Moll, and Oney Judge.[3]

Two of Martha Washington's grandchildren were part of the First Family: Nelly Custis (b. 1779) and "Wash" Custis (b. 1781).[4]

Soon after his inauguration, Washington became seriously ill with a tumor on his thigh (possibly caused by anthrax poisoning). Cherry Street was cordoned off to prevent his being disturbed.[5]

Later years

The house was rented for one year at an annual rent of $845, but the president vacated it after ten months when a larger residence became available. Washington moved to the Alexander Macomb House at 39–41 Broadway, which he occupied from February 23 to August 30, 1790.

Under the July 1790 Residence Act, the national capital moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for a 10-year period, while the permanent national capital was under construction in the District of Columbia.

The Osgood House was demolished in 1856.[6] A bronze plaque where Pearl Street crosses under the Brooklyn Bridge approach marks its location.[7]

See also


  • Decatur, Stephen, Jr., The Private Affairs of George Washington (1933).
  • Hoffman, Henry B. "President Washington's Cherry Street Residence." The New-York Historical Society Quarterly Bulletin, vol. 23 (January 1939): 90–103.
  • Miller, Agnes. "The Macomb House: Presidential Mansion." Michigan History, vol. 37 (December 1953): 373–384.
  • Wharton, Anne H. "Washington's New York Residence in 1789." Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, vol. 43 (1889): 741–745.
  1. ^ "A Historic Home Marked", The New York Times, May 2, 1899
  2. ^ Sally Robinson to Kitty Wistar, 30 April 1789 Archived 5 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine, from
  3. ^ Biographical sketches from
  4. ^ George Washington Parke Custis later became the father-in-law to Robert E. Lee.
  5. ^ "While his doctors debated what steps to take, Cherry Street was blocked to traffic to spare the president its distressing noise. Then suddenly, the growth abscessed and the doctor lanced and drained the lesion." John E. Ferling, The First of Men: A Life of George Washington (University of Tennessee Press, 1988), p. 378.
  6. ^ ."A Piece of History Stands Hidden on Brooklyn Bridge", New York Sun, June 30, 2006
  7. ^ "George Washington slept here?!", The Bowery Boys: New York History, January 7, 2008
This page was last edited on 19 June 2020, at 03:57
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