Historic Structures

Andalusia Mansion - Nicholas Biddle Estate, Andalusia Pennsylvania

Date added: April 5, 2021 Categories: Pennsylvania House Mansion

The house is the work of Thomas U. Walter, architect of the Capitol Dome in Washington, D.C. He enlarged a smaller and earlier house to create this Greek Revival masterpiece. The house is one of the finest examples of the temple form in the country, and is one of the few country seats left which still has its out buildings. The architect's client and the owner of the house was Nicholas Biddle, the president of the Second Bank of the United States.

In 1795, John Craig, a Philadelphia merchant with business connections in the Old World, purchased land that had been used as a farm. In l8ll Nicholas Biddle married the Craigs' daughter, Jane, and acquired Andalusia.

Nicholas Biddle (1786-1844) was born to the prominent Biddle family of Philadelphia. In his youth he traveled extensively and had worked for the governments in London and Paris. In l8ll, he married Jane Craig, a member of another prominent Philadelphia family. Biddle was for many years an active contributor to Port Folio, a literary journal of national prominence. He was also active in politics, and had served in the State Senate. From l8l9 to 1823 he was a director of the Second Bank of the United States in Philadelphia, and from 1823 to 1839 he was a president of that bank.

Biddle was also an influential adviser on the designs of the Greek Revival structures in Philadelphia. He advised architects such as Strickland and Walter as to principles of classical architecture, suggestions and changes. Among the structures that Biddle was involved in their designs were the Girard College, the Second Bank of the United States, and, of course, Andalusia. He had a deep interest in classical architecture. As a young man he visited Greece and her ancient temples.

Andalusia is composed of two or three earlier structures , including the one in the Federal style. It is not known if the original pre-1795 farmhouse is among the structures. In 1797, either a new house was built or the old farmhouse was altered. The work was completed the following year. In 1806 architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe added side bays and small wings to the house. The work was completed in 1808. From 1836 to 1838 new additions were incorporated in the house, forming the present pillared Greek Revival portico (south elevation) and the north elevation with end wings. The Latrobe additions were covered over by the new additions. Thomas U. Walter (1804-1887) was the architect for the new additions. The Greek Revival portico was modeled after the Hephaesteum in Athens.

Andalusia was originally a country seat, composing of a main house, outbuildings and a farm. There were various kinds of outbuildings as well as other kinds of structures. They included the following: a recreational house (the Billiard Room); a playhouse, a bathing house; a laundry house; a milk house; a grotto; a gardener's house; a farmer's house; a laborer's house; a barn; a shad fishery; a steam engine house; the graperies and several ice houses.