If Elfreth's Alley leaves you hungry for a taste of more well-to-do Colonial Philadelphia, head for the Powel House. Mayor Samuel Powel and his wife, Elizabeth, hosted every Founding Father and foreign dignitary around. (John Adams called these feasts "sinful dinners," which shows how far Powel had come from his Quaker background.) He spent most of his 20s gallivanting around Europe, collecting wares for this 1765 mansion.
It's hard to believe that this most Georgian of houses was slated for demolition in 1930, because it had become a decrepit slum dwelling. Period rooms were removed to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. But the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks saved it, and has gradually refurnished the entire mansion as it was. The yellow satin Reception Room, off the entrance hall, has some gorgeous details, such as a wide-grain mahogany secretary. Upstairs, the magnificent ballroom features red damask drapes whose design is copied from a bolt of cloth found untouched in a Colonial attic. There is also a 1790 Irish crystal chandelier and a letter from Benjamin Franklin's daughter referring to the lively dances held here. An 18th-century garden lies below.