Monday, July 25, 2011

historic Philadelphia

Thought I'd take you on a little tour of historic Philly since I've just come from there. I was part of the Faith and Freedom Tour hosted by The Providence Forum in mid-July. This was a walking tour of the historic district and let me tell you, we made tracks from dawn till dusk:) But I never felt tired as the history there is so rich and awe-inspiring.
Our hotel was in Old City Philly and was bordered by a brick wall that had been erected in 1793 during the yellow fever epidemic. Betsy Ross's house was just a street away as was Christ Church where many of our founding fathers worshipped. I could see the steeple clearly from my room and it was a sight to behold at night, all lit up and backed by a full moon! Imagine my delight when I checked in and learned I was to stay a week on the very sight George Whitefield built his preaching house and preached!! Those of you who follow this blog and know what a hero Whitefield is to me can imagine my delight. Needless to say, my sleep was very sweet upon this hallowed spot:)
Here's our fearless leader, Dr. Peter Lillback, (author, historian, and seminary president) wearing a William Penn hat. Since Philadelphia is essentially a Quaker city, this was very fitting. Plus all that glorious sun was HOT!
Here I am smiling as I'm about to eat! In back of me is the historic ship, Moshulu, where we began the tour with an unforgettable dinner. See below:)
Best crab cakes I ever tasted! Isn't the presentation lovely?
Guess I'm a member of the clean plate club as I ate everything they set down in front of me;) And then they served dessert! Of course I ate all that, too.
There were so many memorable moments during the tour. But if you asked me to choose one I'd confess it was meeting George Washington at Valley Forge. This re-enactor had me smitten the moment he opened his mouth:) His voice was so rich and his manner so commanding and eloquent he belongs in a novel!
I'm not a small woman but George was SO TALL I felt a little like Martha Washington beside him. He kindly reminded me that no lady would ever stand to the left of a gentleman and so I corrected my error. Oh, those 18th-century customs!
Here is George Washington's headquarters at Valley Forge, one of the most amazing sites I've ever seen. This is the original house and I have pictures of the interior rooms I'll share with you in a later post. Stone houses are very common in Pennsylvania and are so very charming. Hard to imagine the very tall Washington stuffed into this house with Martha, officers and wives, and regular soldiers. There's a tranquility here that is hard to describe.

Our group at Valley Forge posing beside a Revolutionary War cannon on the site where soldiers had their huts. That particular winter was very brutal and many of the men went without shoes and were dressed in rags and had little to eat. To say it was a moving experience to even stand upon the same ground is an understatement. We owe those men and women so much.
This is a charming 18th-century garden behind Dolly Madison's house not far from my hotel. I went there every chance I could:)
Remember Morrow and Aunt Etta's mantua-making shoppe in Courting Morrow Little? I placed it here in Elfreth's Alley, the oldest existing street in America. See that "to let/rent" sign? You can imagine what I wanted to do! I think this would be a wonderful place to live and scribble stories.
Ben Franklin made his home in Philly and there are a gazillion bobble head Bens in his honor! I passed on these but chose some books and CD's instead. My favorite for the moment is Thomas Jefferson's Fiddle as he was a fine violinist.
I have over 1500 photos from this trip and will share more as the month of August unfolds. Please stay tuned as I'll post more reader/TLC pics later this week! Bless those of you who are sending them to me. I light up like a Christmas tree when they come in! Next Monday, the official launch day for The Colonel's Lady, we'll begin the giveaways - can't wait!


  1. Oh, this looks so neat. Hopefully we'll make this as an educational trip one year. How neat to visit with Peter Lillback, I haven't read his books but it sounds so neat to see sites with a scholar on the topic. I can't wait to see all the rich detail this will yield in your series. I love stone houses, that's a very pretty one at Valley Forge.

    Incidentally we won't have time to stop in Philly, but we are going to my cousin's wedding this weekend and are trying to head to Ottawa for my college roomie's wedding in September.

    Did Paul get to play on the radio yet? What a neat opportunity!

  2. How awesome Laura! I so enjoyed going through the history on your blog post. I loved what the George Washington re-enactor said. I wonder how they are chosen to play those parts.

  3. Laura, I've enjoyed your post so much. The pictures and historical places are wonderful to see. George Washington sure is impressive! A giant of a Life is rich sometimes, isn't it. I should say all the time, but you know what I mean. Looking forward to your new book's release!

  4. Oh, it looks like you had such a marvelous time!!! :D What lovely pictures, and what great inspiration for your writing!

    Thank you for allowing us to tour these sites through your pictures. :)

    Oh, and I have my copy of The Colonel's Lady, and I hope to take a picture of me with it soon!! I'm planning on reading it next week, and I can't wait! :D


  5. Ahh! What an amazing trip! I love all your photos :) Oh I bet you are just brimming with ideas and storylines! You lucky lady ;) that is one tall George Washington if I ever saw one! How amazing to be so close to history, to see what they saw and touch what they touched. Sigh.
    I'm so glad you had a great time! I am so excited too because The Colonel's Lady came in the mail today! I was surprised since I didnt expect anything until august! I am so excited :D I will take my time with it, just to let you know, because I know it'll be another year or so before another one comes out...I mustn't rush these things! It came at a perfect time too because I needed a good read! yay!~

  6. So wonderful to see these pictures, and I absolutely gaped at George Washington. You are a little taller than I am, so I'm guessing George must have been six foot five at least! What a presence indeed. And I had no notion that standing to a left of a gentle man was a no no. The things we learn!

    Beautiful pics, Laura. I look forward to more.

  7. Great pics, Laura! I love an educational, historical trip. They make the best vacations ever. Thanks for sharing this with us. Blessings!

  8. Laura, your photos are beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing them. You look so happy in the photos (and that shade of pink is lovely on you!).

    And I must say, the Faith and Freedom group is a lucky bunch to have toured with you. :D

    Look forward to seeing many more photos throughout the coming month!

    Sweet Blessings,

    P.S. That stone house is gorgeous! Would Colonel McLinn's stone house look something like this?

  9. Julia, OH YES, you and the littles must put this on your list in future:) It was really neat as we had about 10 kids on this tour and they seemed to really enjoy it. Homeschoolers, too, who'd recently studied the American Revolution, etc. I love stone houses like you and this one is so amazing as its been there for so long and just never seems to wear! And the interior is just beautiful! I'll post some pics of the rooms soon so you can see. I so wanted to spend the night there and sort through all that colonial stuff. I even loved the attached kitchen.

    Bless u for asking about Paul. The radio gig has been moved to September. Right now he's busy practicing for an outdoor venue/party next week with some fellow fiddlers. Praying it doesn't rain as violins are very temperamental!

    Will pray for safe travels for you this weekend and in September. Sounds like a wonderful time as I really love weddings. See you when you get back!

  10. Laura,

    I love the journal of your adventures and look forward to more. This will definitely be added to my list of places to visit . . . anything that takes me back to the 16th and 17th century. Was the earth still trembling as you stood on ground where Mr Whitefield testified to the grace of God? Oh if you could hear the walls (and the ground) talk . . . maybe you did!

    So fun that George was there to greet you. What a mighty man he was. I'm five feet tall so maybe I would have only come up to his waist. LOL

    I look forward to hearing more . . . and maybe some more Whitefield quotes!


  11. Adrienne, So glad you liked this post and pics. It was a JOY to do:) You should have seen my face when George reprimanded me! He was quite commanding and my awe probably shows! I wonder, too, and think he has a website. Dr. Lillback said this particular re-enactor travels round the country doing this. Valley Forge is so fortunate to have snagged him as he was just about perfect. Bless you for your thoughtful comments!

  12. Maggie Ann, Oh, love the word "rich." That's the very essence of this trip. I felt so blessed throughout and really sensed the Lord's presence there. George Washington was a very godly man no matter what those who are trying to rewrite history say. And this George was a giant! I don't know that I've ever met a man so tall and his voice was deep as a well:) Perfect novel fodder. So glad you're here - I have some blog hopping to do and yours is on my list!

  13. Amber, I hope you take that pic and share it:) Happy you have the book and hope it takes you away. Glad it's summer reading for you and you don't have to try to balance everything with college. Am wondering when fall semester begins for you? Anyway, so glad Roxie arrived and you stopped by!!

  14. Heather, I so understand about not rushing to read. I just look at those long awaited books a long time before I decide to read. I think anticipation is half the pleasure! You really understand what being in those antique places is all about. I kept thinking as I went through, "George sat here...Thomas Jefferson ate here...Edmund Randolph danced in this very room on this very floor..." It was so awe-inspiring and rich. I like to think heaven is full of historical spots and we'll just visit one after another;)

  15. Lori, Let me say that I did my share of gaping, too:) He was IMMENSE and his voice, no exaggeration, was just as impressive. Richard Armitage rich! Oh, am overusing that word but it's so fitting! I'm 5 foot 6 and he must have been a foot or more taller. Like you, I had no clue standing so was inappropriate. Another thing is that he was a virtual walking encyclopedia of all things colonial!! If I could but borrow his brain...

    I think you'll really like the interior shots of the house. I wish I could have taken pics in the museums as there was an amazing exhibit of Mt. Vernon with Martha's gowns, etc. But pics were a no-no. Not sure why. Thanks so much for commenting. You've been missed!

  16. Renee Ann, You're so right - they make the best trips ever! Another blessing is that every person on this tour is a Christian and a history lover. We had some pretty fascinating discussions! I know you've been in Philly and other parts and enjoy it to, being a teacher. So glad to see you here when I came back!

  17. Michelle, You're so thoughtful to say so and I love the color pink! Hmmm, I do look happy, especially prior to feasting aboard ship;) I don't think I can stuff myself in my colonial gown now... But we won't worry about that yet!

    LOVE the question about Colonel McLinn. YES, this is just like the house in TCL that Cass built. Since he served at Valley Forge, this was a template for him. You are one discerning reader!! I can't wait to post more pics. Wading through so many is quite a feat but fun. Bless you so much!

  18. Laura, I'm so happy you're here!! We're kindred spirits concerning Whitefield. I'm not exaggerating when I say I nearly cried when I learned my hotel was on the very site he preached! Not only because I was sad they'd not saved the site for a preaching house replica but because I felt the Lord was really gifting me with that bit of history in a personal way:) As you know, I've been learning so much from Whitefield through his journals and writings lately. Of all the places I could have stayed in Philly and ended up at this very spot...

    I DO have some more of GW's quotes for you. Next week I'll resume my devotional post and will dedicate a special one to him - and you!

  19. I love George Washington's HQ at Valley Forge but then again I have a thing for those stone buildings and homes. My neighbor's house right next to Washington's Grist Mill is stone and it's gorgeous. I'm so glad you had a nice trip and I love all the pics. I've never been to Philly but I really want to go now!!! I look forward to those Pittsburgh pics soon. ;-)

    XOXO~ Renee C.

  20. Welcome Home!! I am so glad you have returned to your blog. I know you were having many adventures while you were away!

    I have to tell you something funny that happened the other day. I had the feeling I wanted to pick up the phone and call you.(even though we have only "spoken" by email) I wanted to tell you that Liz Curtis Higgs is coming to a town 3 hrs from my home. She is doing a retreat at Spring Hill Camp Sept 30-Oct 2!! Yours truly is GOING!!!
    I am choosing to go by myself, using it as a retreat for Me and The Lord. Doesn't it sound fabulous!!

    I am so JEALOUS of the girls who have there books already!! My pic will arrive via email as soon as I get that hot of the press book in my hand.


  21. Oh, Laura, I can say I was where you were. My husband and I took a trip out to PA after he got home from Iraq. And being the history lovers we are, we drove down to Valley Forge and toured the park. Loved it, it's so peaceful and beautiful in the fall. In the remade huts, my hubby "reenacted" what the soldiers would've said, it was funny and so true. If you closed your eyes, it was like you could hear the men, smell the fires, and feel the cold. I want to go back with the kids one day and let them see it.

  22. Oh, I love, love, LOVE all those pictures! I wish I could take a trip like that. :) You must have had a wonderful time!

    My goodness, but that GW is one BIG man! Not just in size, but what a commanding pressence he must have had!

    It would your time was wonderful. How long were you gone?? (too long according to my count, but that's not so important. ;-)

    I saw your return comment on your last post and I squeeled! So exciting to think about meeting you. :)

    Thanks again for sharing pictures!!

  23. My husband and I came soooo close to going to Philly for a summer vacation, and now that I look at all your lovely pictures, I wish that we'd been able to go! Hopefully, we'll be able to reschedule our trip there soon...I'm sure you had a blast! Can't wait to see more pics from your trip in the next month. :o)

  24. Ha! it's funny that you say you want to borrow 'George Washington's' brain. I was just wishing I could plug into your brain and download your tour! But I will be watching your blog for more. :-)

  25. I was thinking of you in Philly and it looks like it was a dream trip for sure! 1500 photos? wow.

    I'm also excited knowing you will put these details into good use FOR the rest of us!

    Thank you for sharing. Please show more of what you did on 'your summer vacation'. The tour sounded like a wonderful success.

  26. WOW, Laura, these pics are awesome! Gosh, you must have been in heaven! I'm so happy you had a wonderful time and have all these great memories to cherish! Thank you for sharing these pics with us and giving us a little taste of your JOY :)

    I imagine you were beyond delighted to find that out about Whitefield! That is so incredible, praise God! The garden was lovely, the food looked delicious, George's headquarters at Valley Forge is amazing - and that it's the original house is super amazing!! Gosh, I'm dying to see the inside! And then to meet "George" - goodness, he is TALL, lol! And so handsome, I'd a been smitten too :) I must admit you brought tears to my eyes with the cannon pic and info. Such selfless suffering for love of God and country... you are right, we owe them so much...

    I am so happy you got to experience all of this, my friend. I know your history lovers heart must have pitter-pattered with each step :) I'm looking forward to finding some of these gems in your new series - like a treasure hunt! :)

    Praying you have a beautiful day in Jesus!


  27. Love the photos!

    BTW I have just posted our full interview, following on from the FamilyFiction profile, on my blog :) I hope your readers drop by and learn more about you and your writing.


  28. Laura, thanks for sharing the pics...loved them; especially the food pics! Just kidding.:-) You looked just like a little, young girl standing next to the impressive George Washington! That one's a treasure. I can't wait to read the book that stems from this research trip!

  29. Renee, I'm preparing a Pittsburgh post as it deserves one all its own:) They're really very different cities but are both very historically rich and fascinating and are linked so closely despite being 300 or so miles apart! I wish I was still there! Interestingly enough, there was a Philly couple on the tour as they just don't get to the historic district too often.

    I not only have a thing for stone houses, like you, but gristmills, too, and am always trying to work one in a novel. You are so lucky to live near one!! The sound of all that splashing water...

    Stay tuned for Pittsburgh, dear friend!

  30. Stacie, I'm sure you were having some adventures of your own, too! Hospitals are never dull! And I'm beyond thrilled to hear about Liz:) Oh my, you'd be crazy NOT to take advantage of that! I look forward to hearing more. Spring Hill sounds like a lovely place! I've heard she's an incredible teacher/mentor, etc. Her gift is certainly encouragement. The other day I received a mailer advertising her tour to Israel. I think that's later in October and oh, so tempting. Liz is one busy lady:)

    Can't wait to get your pic with TCL! I keep calling it TLC - lol. I'm collecting quite a few pics and will post more this Friday. Bless you bunches!

  31. Winter,
    So neat to think we were at the same spot, thinking the same historic thoughts:) It really is a beautiful place and much, much larger than I had originally thought. But there were thousands of soldiers there and so many huts it looked like a small city, some said. I can only imagine what it looked like in the fall! That's one of my favorite times and more a true reflection of when Washington arrived there himself. You lucky woman! Anyway, thanks so much for your comments as they're always a blessing.

  32. Casey,
    Oh, got your pic with the book and I was *singing*! Can't wait to post!! Bless you for taking time to do that. I treasure each and every one!

    I was gone 11 days:) Not long enough! But I'm so happy you missed me, busy as you are.

    BTW, I finally made my flight reservation last night for St. Loo after finding a good deal. It would be so fun to end up on the same flight going or coming:) Two years ago I flew back on the same flight as the keynote, Debbie Macomber. Only I was in coach and she wasn't;)

    Counting down with you...!

  33. Christy,
    Oh, so glad you're here and give a thumbs up to Philly! This would be a great trip with hubby as it's quite a romantic city, too:) I really wish Randy could have gone with but he had to hold the fort down with the boys. Please put it on your list as you'll never forget it. And when the time comes, if you want to know the best spots, I'll email you a list:) Bless you for your comments!

  34. LOL,Rosslyn,
    After reading your wonderful book, I've had moments of wishing the same about you! I thought of you while in Pittsburgh. What a place! Am wishing I lived a wee bit closer to those historic sites back east...

    Am hoping you're coming in costume to ACFW. Am trying to work up the courage to wear my gown to the banquet. Not sure yet but if you and Keli or others are game, then I will, too!

  35. Debra, I hope all that I learned sticks in this weary brain:) It was wonderfully inspirational and makes me very reluctant to leave the 18th-century. Kind of odd to have written about those places without having been there. At the same time, it was gloriously reaffirming to find my research was right on in various places!

    Thanks so much for stopping here. I know you've been so busy as I follow you on FB. Please stay tuned for more! Hope it whets your historical appetite:)

  36. Yes, Amanda, like a treasure hunt, indeed:) It was a taste of heaven, truly. I think that's the reason I never felt tired - though I had quite a few people praying. I simply felt elated for 11 days! For a semi-melancholy like me that doesn't happen very often;)

    I knew you'd appreciate the Whitefield connection. Oh, what a JOY that was and is. Of course I took Whitefield's daily readings with me. George makes a wonderful traveling companion!

    Your comments always give me such a lift. Praying today is a good one for you and yours in every way and you feel Him right beside you.

  37. Rel,
    Oh I hope readers stop by your blog! The interview is so well done, thanks to you and FF! As always!

    If you want to know more about my next book(s), please visit and just click on Rel's name below and it will take you there. The pics she added are so lovely. In fact, I have some catching up to do over your way now that I'm back. Your blog is one of my favorites.

    Thanks so much, Rel, for all you do! Looking forward to August 1 spotlight, too!

  38. Whoops, click on Rel's name ABOVE on her comment and you'll get there! Bless you!

  39. Diana, Oh, I felt quite small standing by George, let me tell you:) Especially when he reprimanded me! Randy got so tickled about that when he saw the pics.

    We're truly southern girls, that's for sure. Bring on the menus! I've never eaten such fine food in all my life - and dessert with every meal but breakfast! Needless to say, I'm scaling way back and walking up a storm now that I'm back;)

    Thanks again for your great review of TCL. Carrie said she's posting it tomorrow on her site:) You're such an encouragement!!

  40. These pics are great, Laura---only now I have travel-envy! My husband said we might be able to go away for a few days in October and asked me where I wanted to go. I requested Philadelphia but he said we'd have to choose something a little closer to home! Can't wait to see some more of those 1500 pics!

  41. My family went to Philadelphia when I was little so I really don't remember it. It would be nice to see that place again. I love those cobblestone streets and alleys. Did you ever feel like 18th c people were going to pop out of those houses or be on the streets when you left a historical home?

    I love that stone house. Absolutely gorgeous!

    As far as I know my copy of TCL and Sarah Sundin's BST are to be coming from Amazon between tomorrow and Friday! Eeek! I'm so excited! :)

  42. Mary, I so relate to travel-envy. Oh, to see Scotland and Wales and other parts!! But I must admit to a hankering for South Carolina:) And those white sandy beaches and blue waters!! Here it's just lots of rain.

    So glad you're here and enjoy the post and pics. I promise more soon and am working on one on Pittsburgh! Bless u bunches!

  43. Sylvia, Maybe that trip in your early years made you the historical fiction fan you are today:) I'm so glad you mentioned those cobblestone streets as they were everyone and quite hard to walk on but so very charming! And YES, I did expect 18th-c. folks to pop out - and they did! There were all kinds of reenacors in costume there walking up and down the streets and at the museums. Made me wish for my dress so i could join them!

    I know Sarah S. would smile to read your comments about her new release. I sure am. Bless u for telling me!!

  44. Wow Laura!! Just awesome pics and posts of your wonderful trip! I wish I could have been with looks like so much fun and so interesting! I especially like the George Washington pics with you, his original headquarters and LOVE Elfreth's alley!! I wish I could go back in time and place myself there just for a little while to see what all took place in that era. I know you had such a good time...and glad you saw Sarah C. a little bit too. Glad you are home with the family and hoping they are all well and were glad to have you back! :) All is good here....just busy. Taking some vacation time early August! Talk soon and thanks for sharing those wonderful pics and posts! love ya

  45. Rhonda, So glad to see you here! I know the summer is so full for you! Am really happy to hear you get some R@R come August - it's right around the corner. Hope you're headed to the beach or the mountains!!

    This trip was such a blessing as I needed a break from the routine. I couldn't believe Sarah only lives a little over 2 hours away in MD! It was great spending time with her and I think she liked her dinner aboard ship:) Wishing we were closer and could see each other - or like you said, that we could have done this tour together! We need to plan a cousins vacation!

  46. Thank you very much for the tour!
    I have been reading my copy of 'The Colonel's Lady' (I will be posting my review around the 14th of August)and at this time, I am on page 281.
    Needless to say I find it hard to put the book down!

  47. Hi Noelle, So happy you enjoyed the tour:) I miss Philly already! I'm working on a post about Pittsburgh next which is just as fun but so very different.

    Page 281! Poor Cass. I so wanted her to say YES! He's a bit defeated in this scene, bless him, but brighter days are ahead... I'm so thankful you find the book hard to put down. I'm always afraid, of course, of someone not wanting to pick it up;)

    You have a beautiful blog. And I'm delighted you stopped here. Please keep in touch! I'm so glad you're part of the Revell tour!

  48. This looks like you had such a fabulous time. You can see pure JOY on your face! My, George was a larger than life man, oh, that wasn't really him? Sure looked like it! Thanks a bunch for sharing part of your adventure with us. I look forward to hearing and seeing more.

  49. Carla, You're so savvy - JOY, indeed:) The Lord knew I needed a dose of that as it's been a long spring. Thanks so much for stopping and "visiting Philly" with me. I sure appreciate you!!

  50. How wonderful! I'm planning a trip to Philadelphia! I love looking at the 18th century gowns on your blog! They are great inspiration for my sewing projects!

  51. Laurie, You're in for such a treat in Philly! It's the most amazing, inspiring city:) So happy you came to visit my blog and enjoyed the gowns. They're among my favorite things! Your blog is just beautiful!! I've bookmarked it:) Bless you in your travels - and your sewing!!