Historic Germantown Participating Sites
Visit the following sites or participate in fun, hands-on activities with them at Cliveden!
Built as a summer home for the wealthy Chew family, Cliveden was the epicenter of the Battle of Germantown on October 4, 1777. At 10:30 am hear author Tom McGuire tell the story of the Surprise at Germantown. At 1:30 pm listen to Elizabeth Drinker share her feeling about the British occupation. At 2:00 pm explore Freedom on the Horizon with Ona Judge, an enslaved woman who ran away from the Washington’s household. At 2:30 pm, visit with Ned Hector, an African American teamster to learn about African American soldiers during the American Revolution. Talk to soldiers in the British and Continental camps to hear about their experiences during the Revolution. Tours of the Cliveden Main House will be available from 1 pm – 3 pm and the Carriage House will be open throughout the festival exhibiting the Souls Shot Portrait Project and The Turmoil of Transition: The mid-Nineteenth Century at Cliveden.
The Upper Burying Ground, a short walk from Cliveden, is one of Germantown's two oldest cemeteries and a memorial site where fifty-eight Revolutionary War soldiers are laid to rest. Located here is what may be the first memorial to the Battle of Germantown, commemorating the three (named) colonial officers and the six (unnamed) colonial soldiers killed on the day of the Battle of Germantown. An area of modern gravestones placed by the Sons of the Revolution in 2005 memorializes Revolutionary War troops buried in the cemetery with no known locations. Also part of the site is the 1775 Concord School House, one of the oldest surviving school building in the region and a remarkable example of a community-built school dating to the revolutionary era. Open for visits and self-guided tours: noon-4pm. Admission free. Guided tour: 1pm. Reservations not required.
Johnson House was the center of fierce fighting on Germantown Avenue. As Quakers, the Johnsons believed in non-violence. They were “infidel practitioners” and advocates of racial equality. Their home was a refuge and safe place for enslaved Africans on their way to freedom. The Underground Railroad, was a dramatic and effective form of radical protest against a system to enslave Africans for economic profit and to maintain slavery. While the Battle of Germantown raged outside the front door, the family took refuge in the cellar. Their religious beliefs kept them from defending their property when soldiers entered their home to steal food from their kitchen. Scars from the Battle of Germantown are still visible inside the House. During the Battle of Germantown, African Americans and Native Americans served with the Continental and the British forces. Guided tours, African American Soldier Reenactors.
Tours of the Johnson House will be offered at 12pm, 1pm, and 2pm.
In 1683, thirteen Dutch-speaking Mennonite and Quaker families came to what is now known as Germantown. William Rittenhouse, who built America’s first mill for the manufacture of linen based paper, served as this group’s first minister. This is the site of the first Mennonite burial ground (1704), the first Mennonite Meetinghouse (1708), and the first Mennonite baptisms in America (1708). Mennonite theology and conscience contributed to America’s first written petition against slavery, penned in 1688 and sent to the Quaker monthly, quarterly and yearly meetings. Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust cares for the historic 1770 Germantown Mennonite Meetinghouse. They preserve the Meetinghouse & cemetery, maintain the nearby buildings and grounds, implement tours, and work with the Germantown community, and other partners. The site will be open 12 pm – 4 pm.
Historic Rittenhouse Town, a National Historic Landmark District, is dedicated to informing the public about the life and times of this early industrial village – America’s first paper mill, founded in 1690. The non-profit organization is committed to the site’s preservation through research, restoration and high-quality educational programming. The art of paper making has been at the heart of Rittenhouse Town for hundreds of years. Its value has continued to be recognized to the present day with frequent workshops and papermaking series dedicated to teaching the public about this fun and simple exercise and its historical context. Rittenhouse Town will have its portable papermaking studio on site to allow those interested to get hands-on experience making paper. The best part is you can take it home when you're done!
Enjoy a taste of a fall tonic used by families in Colonial times to keep children and adults from sickness. Receive a recipe to make this tonic at home using ingredients that are likely in your own home. The Mansion grounds will be open from 12 – 3 pm during which you can try your luck with a scavenger hunt of the garden. You can also receive a prize for taking our Declaration of Independence and/or Emancipation Proclamation Quizzes.
Wyck Historic House, Garden, and Farm, the site of a field hospital during the 1777 Battle of Germantown, will be open for tours from 12 pm – 4 pm and will feature a display focused on 18th and 19th century medicine during this year's Revolutionary Germantown Festival. Wyck is a National Historic Landmark house, garden, and farm in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia that served as the ancestral home to one Philadelphia family for nine generations (1690-1973). Here, traditional Quaker culture blended with a passion for innovation. The people who lived and worked at Wyck expressed these values through their commitment to education, horticulture, natural history, and preservation. In 2022, this family home still stands alongside the oldest rose garden in the United States, historic outbuildings, a working home farm, and a uniquely authentic collection of family objects. Come learn about medical history, take a tour, and stay for a picnic!
Awbury Arboretum will explore plant use in the 1700s with an emphasis on plants grown or harvested for medicinal purposes. Plants have always played a necessary role in our lives and during Colonial Times, native plants and herbs were the most common treatment for everything from a sore throat to a stomachache to a headache to a rash. As a children's activity, we will also make ink from pokeberries and practice signing our names with quills.
The ACES Museum pays tribute to minority veterans of World War II. Visit from 12 pm – 4 pm and Jump the broom. Jumping the broom is an African tradition from Ghana that continues to this day, and a couple would jump over the broom at the end of the marriage ceremony.
Historic Germantown will host an outreach table with interactive, hands-on activities celebrating the spirit of revolution. Stop by for family-friendly fun, including making your own 18th-century inspired luminaries and experimenting with Colonial Period cryptography. And, don't forget to pick up unique giveaways highlighting this consortium of 18 diverse historic sites. The Germantown Historical Society museum galleries will be open from 12pm - 4pm.
Open for tours as part of the Revolutionary Germantown Festival, The Lest We Forget Museum of Slavery provides a unique historical perspective into the reality of slavery for Africans brought to America. It is the only museum of its kind in Philadelphia that exhibits authentic slavery artifacts. The museum tears the scab of mystery and shame off the subject of slavery and shines light on the enduring spirit of our African American ancestors and the contributions they have made in the building of America.
Grumblethorpe, the historic home of the Wister family, was the headquarters of British General James Agnew during the Battle of Germantown. The Wister family, as Quakers, stayed out of the immediate conflict by leaving the city during the British Occupation. For this year’s Revolutionary Germantown Festival, come learn about the Wisters, those who could not leave the city, and what life was like during the Occupation of Philadelphia.
Stop by Stenton Museum’s table at Cliveden on October 7th for colonial children’s games, puzzles, and crafts. Stenton is located at 4601 N. 18th Street and is open for guided tours Tuesday-Saturday, 1-4pm. Tours begin on the hour.
Historic Fair Hill is a 5 acre 300 year old Quaker burial ground with surrounding wall murals telling stories of struggles for justice. Leaders of the Underground RR and early women’s rights movement including Lucretia Mott and Robert Purvis are buried here. During the Revolutionary War, the first meetinghouse was used as a field hospital, and both British and Continental soldiers were buried here. Today Historic Fair Hill has literacy partnerships with neighborhood public schools and extensive community gardens. The site will be open 10 am – 3 pm.
Black Writers Museum | 5800 Germantown Avenue
The Black Writers Museum (BWM) is housed at the historic Vernon House in the middle of the beautiful Vernon Park, and sits along a corridor of a series of Philadelphia's National Landmarks in historic Germantown. As the only museum of its kind in America, the BWM provides exhibits of classic and contemporary Black Literature and its authors, exposing visitors to generations of history as written by some of America's most prominent literary composers.