A Champion of Human Rights
Thaddeus Kosciuszko lived in a second floor room of Ann Relf's boarding house from November 1797 to May 1798. Kosciuszko was one of a number of highly trained European military officers whose imagination was seized by the ideals of liberty and human dignity embodied in the Declaration of Independence. Kosciuszko arrived in Philadelphia from Poland in August 1776, one month after the adoption of the Declaration, and offered his services to the United States.
As a military engineer he contributed to the American victory at Saratoga and to the defense of West Point throughout the Revolution. After the war, Kosciuszko returned home and in March 1794, again championing the cause of liberty, led his countrymen against Russian rule. After some initial successes he was defeated, captured by the Russians, and imprisoned.
In August 1797, Kosciuszko returned to Philadelphia to a hero's welcome. During that time he entertained many visitors, Vice President Thomas Jefferson among them, and successfully petitioned Congress for back pay. He received close to $19,000 and a grant of 500 acres in Ohio. Throughout his life Kosciuszko condemned slavery. He also promoted education for free blacks. When Thomas Jefferson learned of Kosciuszko's death in Switzerland in 1817, he remarked that Thaddeus Kosciuszko had been "as pure a Son of Liberty as I have ever known."
Also at the site is a marker labled "Preservation at Work," identifying preservation efforts for Kosciuszko's house. It reads:Preservation of the Site:
Since 1798, when Polish patriot Thaddeus Kosciuszko lived here, this building has undergone many changes. In order to interpret the building accurately, the National Park Service (NPS) restored the houses' exterior masonry walls, including reconstructing the missing historical first floor walls, and recreated the building's historic window patterns and door locations. NPS staff members based this 1970s restoration work on documentary research, surviving architectural evidence, and archeological investigation at the site.
The Current Project:
Today the NPS continues its preservation of this historic site in a new project to provide an accessible visitor entrance. As required by federal law, the finished project (a ramp) will give all people, regardless of their mobility level, independent access to the building from Pine Street. The ramp will stand on the building's west side, to limit its visual impact on the historic appearance of the houses' most prominent facade.