Biography

MASTER BUILDER
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Born: c. 1713, Died: 1774

Jacob Lewis was a master builder who came to Philadelphia from Chester County in 1741 and by 1763 (the date of earliest extant records) was a member of The Carpenters' Company of Philadelphia. The traces of his growing prominence in the building trades community are faint. In 1745 he took one Abraham Wood as an apprentice; in 1748 he became a member of the "Colony in Schuylkill"; and in 1750, together with Edmond Woolley, Samuel Rhoads, and Benjamin Franklin, he was appointed by the Pennsylvania Assembly "to view the River Schuylkill, and consider where a Bridge over that River may be most conventiently built." By 1753 Lewis had been appointed a city assessor and in 1758 he became--together with Samuel Rhoads and Joseph Fox--a Regulator of Streets and Water Courses in Philadelphia, a coveted civic position usually held by the leading master builder/architects of The Carpenters' Company. From 1756 to 1762 Lewis was a director of the Philadelphia Contributionship and from 1764 to 1769 he was a director of the Library Company. An active supporter of the Pennsylvania Hospital, Lewis made several donations toward construction costs and served as a manager from 1759 until his death. At his death his estate, exclusive of several houses, a country "plantation" and twelve ground rents, was 3162 pounds.

Written by Roger W. Moss.

Clubs and Membership Organizations

  • Library Co.
  • Carpenters' Company of Philadelphia

 

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