James Logan (1674-1751)
James Logan built Stenton in the 1720s as a country house. Born in Ireland of Scottish parents, Logan named Stenton after the village in Scotland where his father had been born. James Logan was a Quaker and as a capable young man in Bristol, England he came to the attention of the founder of the Colony of Pennsylvania, William Penn. He accompanied Penn to North America in 1699. Although Penn left a short time later, Logan remained in the Pennsylvania Colony with wide-ranging responsibilities for administration. He spent the next fifty years serving in various capacities in Pennsylvania – agent for the Penn family, merchant, politician, justice, scientist and scholar. He was the leading political figure in Pennsylvania for many years.
Logan was a Quaker and a man of taste and erudition. In the 1720s he began to build Stenton as his country house. Although originally intended as a “plain, cheap farmer’s stone house” it evolved into a brick mansion in the early Georgian style – a striking piece of architecture noted for its symmetry, elegance, and simplicity of design. Records indicate that he commissioned pieces of fine furniture and collected a library of nearly 3,000 books. Logan’s library was one of the largest in the American Colonies and is now part of the Library Company of Philadelphia. Logan enjoyed scholarship immensely; as his friend Benjamin Franklin commented of James Logan, “His life was for the most part a life of business, tho’ he had always been passionately fond of study.” During the twenty years that he lived at Stenton many people came to visit him, ranging from Franklin and John Bartram to many Native American Indian Chiefs.