PROPERTY HISTORY AND ARCHITECTURE OF HOUSE
Francis Rawle purchased the land in 1760. In 1761, he was killed in a hunting accident. His widow, Rebecca, later remarried in 1767 to Samuel Shoemaker. Together, they decided to build a two story Georgian structure home on the land Rebecca inherited from her first husband. The center of the house was built around 1767. In early 1800’s, on the south side, a one story addition was added. The Octagonal addition on the north side, is Federal in style and was added to the house in 1846. During the Revolutionary War, Laurel Hill was confiscated and sold at auction by the state legislature because Rebecca and Samuel were British Loyalists. To escape imprisonment, Samuel returned to England taking his son, Edward and step-son, William Rawle. After the War ended, Rebecca purchased her house again for residency with her family.
HIGHLIGHTS ON NOTABLE OWNERS AND SOME OF THEIR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
William Rawle, Esq. Son of Rebecca and Francis Rawle . Appointed as U.S.
District Attorney for Pennsylvania by George Washington in 1791. In 1796,
elected Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania. Served as President of
the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society. Served as President of the Historical
Society of Pennsylvania. Served as Attorney and Counsel for the Bank of
the United States. In 1825, William published his “View of the U.S. Constitution”
the first legal treatise on constitutional law which remained a standard
reference on the subject for over 40 years and still is used today by lawyers
and government. William Rawle found the Rawle Law Offices in 1783. In 1913,
the Firm became known as Rawle & Henderson with the addition of Joseph Henderson
as a partner. Rawle & Henderson is the oldest active law firm in the United States. In 1827,
he was elected first Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association.
Samuel Shoemaker Served as Common Councilman of the city in 1755 and at the death of his father he succeeded as Treasurer. Mayor of Philadelphia from 1769-71. He was a member of the Assembly from 1771 to 1773. A successful business man, he also was attorney for the Philadelphia Land Company of London. During the British occupation of Philadelphia, Samuel, a Loyalist, served as Magistrate of Police.
Dr. Philip Syng Physick, One of Philadelphia’s most noted surgeons. He was known as the Father of American surgery for his successes in stomach surgery and renowned clinical teaching. Dr. Physick agreed to buy Laurel Hill when William Rawle decided to sell the family home. Sally Randolph, inherited the house upon her father’s death. It was then known as the Randolph Mansion. The house was renamed Laurel Hill Mansion by the City of Philadelphia during the Bicentennial in 1976.
TENANTS LIVING AT LAUREL HILL DURING THE DURING THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR
General Joseph Reed, Was elected President of the Supreme Executive Council and later, Governor of Pennsylvania. Chevalier de la Luzerne, serving as the Ambassador from France.
In 1993, the Rawle family presented a valuable family heirloom to Laurel Hill, an 18th century Philadelphia chippendale mahogany highboy which has been placed in the Great Room. This original piece, was given by the Burge family upon the marriage of their daughter, Sarah, to William Rawle in 1783.
LAUREL HILL IS MAINTAINED BY WOMEN FOR GREATER PHILADELPHIA INC.
An organization of volunteers was incorporated in 1973, under the name “Women for the Bicentennial” as a non-profit service organization cooperating with the City in celebrating the nation’s 200th Anniversary in 1976. First project was the renovation and restoration of the mansion, under an agreement with the Fairmount Park Commission At the close of 1976, the Organization changed their name to Women for Greater Philadelphia, Inc. and has continually maintained the mansion so it can be open for tours, concerts and education programs.