Ben Franklin's London House Is Restored





For sixteen years, Benjamin Franklin lived at 36 Craven Street in London, near the Strand and Charing Cross. He moved into the house in 1757, beginning a campaign to oust the descendants of William Penn as the rulers of Pennsylvania. Many think his landlady and owner of the house, widowed Margaret Stevenson, became his second wife when his Philadelphia spouse, Deborah, declined to brave the Atlantic and join him. Now the house has been restored to its 18th Century condition, which Franklin described as "genteel." It remained a lodging house until the Second World War, during which it suffered some bomb damage. For several decades thereafter, it was the headquarters of The British Society for International Understanding. In 1978, Mary, Countess of Bessborough, founded the Friends of Benjamin Franklin House to rescue the building, which was in a sad state of disrepair. Over the next decade and a half, the Friends, aided by big givers such as the British Heritage Lottery Fund, spent 2.8 million dollars to restore the house. Inside, they have created an Historic Experience tour which will enable visitors to recapture Franklin and the London he experienced until his return to America in 1775 with the Revolutionary War looming. The house opened for visitors on January 17, 2006, Ben's 300th birthday. It thus became the only surviving house in which Ben actually lived.


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