Michael Helfrich, the mayor of York, Pa., lives in one of the oldest homes in town, a 1761 stone house that was once the residence of Thomas Paine.
Home to a number of other Revolution-era sites and buildings, York actually bills itself as the first capital of the United States, because it is where the Articles of Confederation were ratified in 1777 while Congress was on the run from British soldiers.
Helfrich’s home has been restored to look much like it did 250 years ago, albeit with a few modern conveniences: “I was the first one to put actual bathing facilities inside the house in its entire history,” he says.
The mayor has filled his home with period furniture, books and newspapers. His favorite item in the collection? An original copy of Paine’s “American Crisis Number 5,” which was written in York, possibly in this very house.