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Office of the Historian

287 Market Street, Philadelphia
April 1793May 1794

On or about April 1, 1793, the Department of State moved from the building at 307 Market Street to a building which was apparently larger.1 According to a 1793 Philadelphia city directory, the new home of the Department was located at 287 Market Street2 on the north side of the street between Seventh and Eighth Streets (now 719 Market Street).3

Edmund Randolph

Except for the mention of blinds on the third-story windows, and of walls and ceilings of the rooms that were whitewashed,4 no description or picture of this building has been found. The property was owned by John Dunwoody, an "innkeeper" living next door at 285 Market Street,5 to whom the Department paid rent at the rate of $266.67 a year from April 1, 1793, to April 15, 1794, and at the rate of $400 a year from April 16 to May 15, 1794.6 Under a July 9, 1798, act of Congress, the property was valued at $2,800.7

The entire frontage from Seventh to Eighth Street on the north side of Market Street is now occupied by the Lit Brothers department store, of late nineteenth-century construction.8

The Department was in this building until May 1794 except for a time in September-October 1973 when it ceased to function because of a severe yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. On September 12 Jefferson wrote: "The fever spreads faster... all my clerks have left me but one: so that I cannot go on with business."9 A few days later, he set out for Monticello. Jefferson completed his tenure of office as Secretary of State on December 31, 1793, while the Department was in the building at 287 Market Street. Edmund Randolph succeeded to the office on January 2, 1794, in the same building.

  1. MS. Department of State, Accounts Records, Cash Book, 1785-1795, under date April 11, 1793.
  2. James Hardie, Philadelphia Directory, 1793, p. 72.
  3. MS. Department of State, file 102.5/7-953, Riley to Noble, July 9, 1953; and Yoelson to Costrell, March 27, 1975.
  4. MS. Department of State, Accounts Records, Cash Book, 1755-1795, under dates March 30 and November 23, 1793.
  5. Ibid., under date July 3, 1793.
  6. Ibid., under dates July 3 and October 3, 1793, and January 3 and May 15, 1794.
  7. MS. National Archives, Record Group 58, Book A, "List of the Taxes Assessed...," October 1, 1798, p. 113.
  8. MS. Department of State, file 102.5/7-953, Riley to Noble. July 9, 1953; and Yoelson to Costrell, March 27, 1975.
  9. MS. Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Papers, No. 93, p. 15965: Nathan Schachner, Thomas Jefferson: a Biography (New York, 1951), 1, 508, 512.