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Artist, inventor, museum-keeper, naturalist, and polymath Philadelphian Charles Willson Peale (silhouette at left) bought Belfield Mansion in 1810, paying $9500 for the property. Peale may not have been in a league of his own because of his achievements in so many diverse fields, but fellow members of that league of colonial overachievers would include suck luminaries as Bejamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. Peale painted all three. Frrom Belfield, Peale also conducted an extensive correspondence with Thomas Jefferson at Monticello.

Charles Willson Peale bought Belfield in 1810 from Cirille Charles Gregoire, one of the suppliers for the Lewis and Clark expedition. Gregoire, a colorful character, barely escaped from France during the Revolution -- and then in 1791 fled the slave revolution in the French colony of St. Domingue (now Haiti)

Peale made many sketches and paintings of his new home.


William Clark by Charles
Willson Peale

Meriwether Lewis by Charles
Willson Peale

The Mansion looking up the
hill from what is now La
Salle's Security Building

Peale loved to speed, hair flying, down the road behind Belfield Mansion on his Fast-Walking Machine, a precursor of the bicycle (his sketch is 1819).
The farmyard next to the Mansion; the upper sketch looks from today's 20th Street towards Wister Street, the lower one looks from today's Wister Street towards 20th Street

Belfield, 1815 - 1816
Charles Willson Peale
Charles Willson Peale wanted to be buried beneath his obelisk at Belfield, but he did not own the property when he died in 1827. About a dozen years ago, a La Salle alum rebuilt Peale's obelisk in its original site.



"Exhuming the First American Mastodon" 1806-1808, Charles Willson Peale

Right:A sharp eyed visitor to Belfield a few years ago noticed this 300-million-year old fossil (Stigmaria, a root cast of a tree species of the Pennsylvanian Period) lining a flower bed. Who would line their flower bed wth a 300-million-year old fossil? Who know for sure -- but Charles Willson Peale is a good bet, because he particpated in several digs, looking especially for mastodons.




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