Ask Benny: The readers weigh in on the Addams house

Dear Readers,
Your humble scribe was overwhelmed by the responses he received to our inaugural column on the Addams Family house (“Ask Benny,” Current, Jan. 21). Apparently, there are a number of structures out there that claim to serve as inspiration for Charles Addams’ fictional abode, including the Ebenezer Maxwell House in Germantown and the Faculty House at Colgate University.

A couple of campus correspondents also mentioned a demolished mansion on or near the campus as Addams’ model. Further investigation revealed this structure to be Blanchard Hall, a late-19th-century Victorian house at 36th and Walnut streets, where the Dietrich wing of Van Pelt-

Dietrich Library now stands. The house was demolished in 1964 to make way for library expansion, but the legend has enough staying power to make it into “Building America’s First University” (Pennsylvania, 2000). From all the evidence I’ve seen, the legends are just that and any resemblance between the Addams Family manse and these structures is pure coincidence.

Dear Benny,
What is Family and Medical Leave, and when can I use it?
—Expectant Mom

Dear Expecting,
The Family and Medical Leave Act is a law that provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period to eligible employees for specified family and medical reasons, including your pregnancy. According to Human Resources, Penn policies may require you to substitute sick leave, paid time off or short-term disability leave for unpaid leave in certain cases.

Events that qualify for family and medical leave are the birth and care of a newborn child, adoption or foster care placement, an employee’s serious illness, and caring for a spouse, domestic partner, child or parent with a serious illness. Penn’s Family and Medical Leave Policy, available online at, has detailed information on the subject.

Got a question for Benny? Send it to the Current, 200 Sansom Place East, 3600 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104-6106 or e-mail it to

Originally published on April 11, 2002