General Philemon Dickinson’s Hermitage and Washington’s Crossing

The Hermitage, Trenton, in 2018. Source: TCM

Philemon Dickinson,  called “one of the truest patriots of the revolution” by historian William Stryker, was from a wealthy family that owned land in several states, but he chose to establish a country estate, which he called the Hermitage, at a site outside the town of Trenton, New Jersey.  He bought the property, which included a house and barns, in July of 1776.

Not long after he bought the property, Hessian troops seized the building and established a picket there, which guarded the approach to Trenton from the north. Dickinson, who was a general in the New Jersey militia, was stationed across the river in Yardley, where he could observe the Hessians occupying his home. After crossing the Delaware on Christmas night, American troops marched past the Hermitage on their way to Trenton, driving the Hessians before them. General Dickinson, still stationed in Yardley, contributed to the effort by ordering the artillery to shell his own home; fortunately for his real estate, the effect was mostly symbolic.

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The c. 1721 Trent House, Trenton, New Jersey

Trent House. View of South elevation. Source: TCM

The Trent House was built around 1721 (although a plaque on its wall puts the date at 1719) by William Trent, after whom New Jersey’s state capital is named.  It replaced an earlier house built by Mahlon Stacy.

The house was modified and expanded over the next 200 years. In the 1930s, a WPA project removed the later additions, uncovering the brick well and  restoring the house to its original appearance.

The Trent House prior to the removal of the eastern wing and greenhouse. The well was located beneath this addition. Source: Library of Congress/Historic American Buildings Survey

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Pure Oil Gas Station in Virginia

Pure Oil Gas Station
Pure Oil Gas Station, Cape Charles, VA. Source: LamokaLedger

On the corner of Mason Avenue in the bayside town of Cape Charles, Virginia, is this abandoned Pure Oil gas station. Pure Oil designed these cottage-like filling stations in the late 1920s, and variations on this theme were constructed for several decades. This shows the design at its most simple form. The station still has the original “Pure Oil Blue” roof and most of its original features (compare it with the two historic photos from Pennsylvania and New York below). The three-bay garage on the side is likely a later addition.

Carl August Petersen created this Tudor Revival/English Cottage design in 1927 with the goal of presenting their Pure Oil as a safe, clean, and welcoming place to get gasoline. The standardized design also served to identify their brand to consumers, no matter where they were traveling.

The Pure Oil company was bought by Union Oil in the 1960s, and by the early 1970s, Pure Oil gas stations were rebadged as Union 76 stations. The Mason Avenue station remained in use as a gas station until fairly recently. A second Pure Oil building survives on the outskirts of Cape Charles. Many other Pure Oil stations have been repurposed into restaurants or for other uses, and several have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including a 1937 station in Geneva, Illinois.  More examples can be seen at RoadsideArchitecture.

 

Pennsylvania Pure Oil
Pennsylvania, c. 1927. Source: http://www.scaruffi.com/politics/gas.html

 

Pure Oil Binghamton
1928 Pure Oil Gas Station, Binghamton, NY. Source: Petroleum News/Fill ‘er Up: An Architectural History of America’s Gas Stations. D.I. Vieyra, 1979

 

Freitag's Pure Oil Service Station
Freitag’s Pure Oil Service Station, Monroe, WI. Source: By SJC Burch – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21826664

Architect Louis Kahn’s “Clever House” For Sale in New Jersey

We don’t usually deal in real estate, but a striking house designed by architect Louis Kahn has just come up for sale. Kahn designed nine houses that were built around Philadelphia, this one is in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

The Clever House is named for the clients/owners, who sought out Kahn after seeing his Trenton Bath House (according to Curbed).

Clever House, Cherry Hill, NJ.

Yes, it needs work (but a couple hours of raking would make the outside look so much better), but it’s under $300,000 and the property taxes aren’t too horrible (for New Jersey). And gotta love the cinder block style on the inside.

Photos are from the Real Estate Listing.

More on this house and all of Kahn’s other residential projects here.