Exploring the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia

Exploring the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia.

If you’re looking for information about visiting the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia, you’re in the right place!

A vintage postcard image of the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia.
A vintage postcard image of the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia.

The Betsy Ross House is one of Philadelphia’s most popular tourist attractions, said to be the site where Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag in late May, 1776.

Betsy Ross and the American Flag exhibit in the lobby of the Betsy Ross House.
Betsy Ross and the American Flag exhibit.

While some historians consider the “first flag” story more mythology than fact (citing a lack of corroborating evidence), the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission acknowledged her contribution to American history in 2009 with the installation of this official marker in front of the Betsy Ross House.

Betsy Ross historical marker on Arch Street, in front of the Betsy Ross House.
Betsy Ross historical marker.

Visiting the Betsy Ross House

The Betsy Ross House is located at 239 Arch Street in Philadelphia’s Old City, just a few steps away from Christ Church, where Betsy Ross worshipped, and also where she married her third husband, John Claypoole.

Exploring Christ Church in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.
Christ Church in Philadelphia’s Old City.

The house is open for tours year-round, from 10 am. – 5 pm. (closed on Tuesdays).

The front of the Betsy Ross House on Arch Street in Philadelphia.
The front of the Betsy Ross House on Arch Street in Philadelphia.

Admission prices for the Betsy Ross House are $8.00 for adults and $6.00 for children/seniors/military/students.

Courtyard next to the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia.
Courtyard next to the Betsy Ross House.

What You’ll See at the Betsy Ross House

The Betsy Ross House was first opened as a museum in 1898, renovated in the 1930s, and has been restored to how it would have appeared in the late 1770s, with period-correct artifacts and modern interpretative signage.

The interior of the Betsy Ross House has been decorated in a period-correct manner.
The interior of the Betsy Ross House has been decorated in a period-correct manner.

On the first floor you’ll find Betsy’s upholstery shop, which is where she is said to have met with George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross to discuss sewing the first American flag.

A recreation of the upholstery shop parlor where Betsy Ross is said to have met with George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross to discuss sewing the first American flag.
A recreation of the upholstery shop parlor where Betsy Ross is said to have met with George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross to discuss sewing the first American flag.

At the time she was approached to make the flag, Betsy was a young widow running her own upholstery business.

As an upholsterer Betsy Ross had many famous clients in Philadelphia, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.
As an upholsterer Betsy Ross had many famous clients in Philadelphia, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.

On the second floor of the house you’ll see a reproduction of Betsy’s bedroom, where she would have sewn the flag in secrecy.

Betsy Ross's bedroom, where she would have worked on the American flag in private.
Betsy Ross’s bedroom, where she would have worked on the American flag in private.

Creating the flag would have been considered an act of treason against the British Crown, and there were still many Philadelphians loyal to King George III, even after the Revolutionary War started.

King George III, British monarch at the time of the American Revolution.
King George III, British monarch at the time of the American Revolution (public domain image).

In fact, during the winter of 1777, Betsy’s home was forcibly shared with British soldiers occupying Philadelphia, a possible reason why no “paper trail” of her creating the flag exists.

Kitchen area in the cellar of the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia.
Betsy’s home was forcibly shared with British soldiers whose army occupied Philadelphia during the winter of 1777.

Ross died at the age of 84 in 1836, 60 years after sewing the first American flag.

Display about the final years of Betsy Ross's life.
Display about the final years of Betsy Ross’s life.

She and her third husband, John Claypoole, are buried in a garden next to the courtyard outside the house.

Betsy Ross was reburied at the Betsy Ross House on Arch Street in Philadelphia on Dec. 17, 1975.
Betsy Ross was reburied at the Betsy Ross House on Arch Street in Philadelphia on Dec. 17, 1975.

The Betsy Ross Legend and Legacy

The story of Betsy Ross and the first American flag was not well known outside of her family until around the time of the U.S. Centennial in the 1870s.

A display describing how Betsy Ross's family brought the story of her sewing the first American flag to public attention.
A display describing how Betsy Ross’s family brought the story of her sewing the first American flag to public attention.

However, by the time of the Bicentennial in 1976, her name was so well-known that it was being used to sell all sorts of products, cashing in on the patriotic fever of the times.

The Betsy Ross name became associated with many products having nothing to do with the first American flag.
The Betsy Ross name became associated with many products having nothing to do with the first American flag.

To this day it’s hard to walk around a flea market or antique store and not see at least one Betsy Ross-themed knick-knack.

A Betsy Ross Dr. Pepper bottle commemorating America's Bicentennial in 1976, on display at the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia.
A Betsy Ross Dr. Pepper bottle commemorating America’s Bicentennial in 1976.

The legacy of Betsy Ross is one of perseverance in the face of a tragedy, and although her role in creating the first American flag may never be “definitively” proven, the story has endured all the same.

Welcome sign at the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia.
Welcome sign.

It is entirely plausible that in the face of the impending British occupation of Philadelphia in late 1777, if any paper trail did exist linking her to the “rebel flag”, it was destroyed in the name of self-preservation.

Replica of the first Stars and Stripes flag sewn by Betsy Ross.
Replica of the first Stars and Stripes flag sewn by Betsy Ross.

Of course you can tour the home, enjoy the exhibits, and come to your own conclusions when you visit the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia, a shrine of American liberty!

The Betsy Ross House was restored and rededicated in 1937.
A plaque commemorating the restoration and rededication of the Betsy Ross House in 1937.

Nearby Attractions

Christ Church in Philadelphia is famous for its ties to the American Revolution, with many of the Founding Fathers including George Washington, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin attending services there, in addition to Betsy Ross.

Christ Church in Philadelphia was the tallest building in the United States from 1754 until 1810.
Christ Church in Philadelphia was the tallest building in the United States from 1754 until 1810.

Independence Hall in Philadelphia is the birthplace of the United States!

Independence Hall in Philadelphia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Independence Hall in Philadelphia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were both signed here, and today you can take a guided tour of what is arguably the most important and historic site in the United States.

A Park Ranger explains the historic significance of the Assembly Room at Independence Hall.
A Park Ranger explains the historic significance of the Assembly Room at Independence Hall.

The Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia uses historic artifacts, dioramas, short films, paintings, and other exhibits to tell the story of the Revolutionary War in America.

Exploring the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.
The Museum of the American Revolution.

Elfreth’s Alley in Philadelphia is the oldest continually-inhabited residential street in the United States!

Exploring Elfreth's Alley in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.
Elfreth’s Alley in Philadelphia is a National Historic Landmark.

Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia is America’s most-historic (and some say most-haunted) prison!

The halls at Eastern State Penitentiary were designed to have the feel of a church.
The halls at Eastern State Penitentiary were designed to have the feel of a church.

Visiting the Rocky Statue and Steps at the Philadelphia Art Museum is your guide to paying homage to Philly’s favorite fictional son!

The Rocky statue was a gift of Sylvester Stallone to the City of Philadelphia.
The Rocky statue was a gift of Sylvester Stallone to the City of Philadelphia.

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Rusty Glessner is a professional photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.