Deshler-Morris House

History

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it called the Deshler-Morris House?
The Deshler-Morris House gets its name from the first and last owners. David Deshler constructed a small summer house here in 1752. Twenty years later, he built a three story, nine-room addition to the front of the house. Isaac Franks, a former Colonel in the Continental Army, purchased the house after Deshler died in 1792 then rented it to Washington. Franks later sold the house to the Morris family who purchased it and retained ownership until Elliston P. Morris donated it to the National Park Service in 1948.

What role did the house play in the Battle of Germantown?

Ironically, the house that Washington would use during his presidency was occupied by his British adversary, Sir William Howe, during the American Revolution. Philadelphia was captured by British troops in September 1777 and the Continental Army withdrew to the northwest. In early October, a pursuing force of British reached Germantown. Howe used the Deshler-Morris House as headquarters while repulsing a determined but unsuccessful attack launched by General Washington.

Did Washington's family ever vacation at the house?
Washington returned to the house in the summer of 1794 with his wife Martha and their adopted grandchildren, Eleanor Parke Custis and George Washington Parke Custis. The summer break brought a welcome respite from the pressures of public life. Young Washington, as he was called, attended the Germantown Union School, a short walk from the house. Eleanor "Nelly," was tutored at home. Martha raised flowers, the President posed for painter Gilbert Stuart and the family attended the German Reformed Church across the square from their house.