Benjamin West Birthplace

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Benjamin West Birthplace
Ben West birthplace Swarthmore PA obl.JPG
Benjamin West Birthplace, 2015
Benjamin West Birthplace is located in Pennsylvania
Benjamin West Birthplace
Benjamin West Birthplace is located in the United States
Benjamin West Birthplace
LocationSwarthmore College campus, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
Coordinates39°54′18″N 75°21′5″W / 39.90500°N 75.35139°W / 39.90500; -75.35139Coordinates: 39°54′18″N 75°21′5″W / 39.90500°N 75.35139°W / 39.90500; -75.35139
Arealess than one acre
Builtc. 1724
NRHP reference #66000662
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 15, 1966[1]
Designated NHLDecember 21, 1965[2]

The Benjamin West Birthplace is a historic home located on the campus of Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. It was the birthplace of artist Benjamin West (1738-1820), who was an influential mentor to a generation of American painters, including Gilbert Stuart and Charles Willson Peale,[3] his birthplace was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.[2][1] It presently serves as Swarthmore's visitor information center.

Description and history[edit]

The Benjamin West Birthplace stands on the east side of the Swarthmore campus, just west of North Chester Road off Visitor Center Road, it is a 2-1/2 story stone structure, with a gabled roof pierced by two gabled dormers on each side. The main facade is five bays wide, with a centered entrance sheltered by a gabled portico; the interior does not have any original 18th-century features, the building having been gutted by fire in 1874. At that time its interior was rebuilt, and an ell added to the rear.[3]

The house was reportedly built about 1724, when the area was still part of Springfield Township. Benjamin West was born in this house in 1738 into a Quaker family, but was himself an Anglican for most of his life, he was one of the first American-born artists to be trained in Italy, and settled in England in 1763, where he embarked on a successful career as a painter, working primarily on commission to King George III. He is important in the history of American art for his role in supporting the early careers of a number of Americans who achieved great success, including Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Sully, Rembrandt Peale, and Charles Willson Peale, all of whom he supported both financially and logistically in their development.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  2. ^ a b "Benjamin West Birthplace". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2008-02-06.
  3. ^ a b c Richard Greenwood (September 25, 1974). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Benjamin West Birthplace" (pdf). National Park Service. Cite journal requires |journal= (help) and Accompanying photos, exterior and interior, from 1974. (875 KB)

External links[edit]

Media related to Benjamin West birthplace at Wikimedia Commons