These Historic Sites Echo Back to the Main Line Region’s Past

Adobe Stock / brandtbolding

The Main Line area is chock-full of historic artifacts and edifices that predate the founding of the United States of America.

History is all around us. Philadelphia and Pennsylvania have existed in their current form for almost three and a half centuries since William Penn first landed on the shores off the Delaware River. In those intervening years, historic buildings and settlements have risen and given way, but the Main Line region has preserved plenty of beautiful colonial architecture. Here are some of our favorites.

Harriton House (Establish c. 1704)

500 Harriton Rd., Bryn Mawr

 

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The Harriton House most famously served as the residence of Founding Father Charles Thomson, the secretary of the Continental Congress during our nation’s founding. However, that is probably not why this historic building is important to you. Built by Welsh Quaker Rowland Ellis in 1705, it was dubbed Bryn Mawr, meaning high hill, from which the modern town of Bryn Mawr takes its name.

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Grange Estate (Establish c. 1750)

143 Myrtle Ave., Havertown

 

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This Gothic-style mansion resides on land that can be directly traced back to William Penn, who first sold the land to a Henry Lewis, then to a Captain John Wilcox and finally (and more permanently) to a Captain Charles Cruikshank in 1761. The mansion itself was built in 1750 and often visited by notable figures like George Washington and Lafayette of the Continental Army. The building is now owned by Haverford Township and maintained as a museum and community center.

Wayne’s Quarters, Joseph Walker House (Established c. 1757)

274 Anthony Wayne Dr., Tredyffrin Township

 

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Built in four sections, the oldest dating back to 1757 and the newest to 1920, this historic building served as headquarters for General Anthony Wayne during the winter of 1777-78 while the Continental Army encamped at Valley Forge.

General Wayne Inn (Established c. 1704)

625 Montgomery Ave., Merion

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Known as General Wayne Inn for 230 years, this historic building wasn’t always known as such. In fact, it was given four titles before reaching its current iteration. First known as William Penn Inn, it was then dubbed Wayside Inn, then Tunis Ordinary, then Streepers Tavern before taking on the name of the eponymous general who once stayed the night there.

However, its recent history is much more grim. Executive chef and part-owner Jim Webb was found murdered there in 1996 by his business partner and co-owner Guy Sileo, who currently serves a life sentence in prison. The building was bought by Chabad of the Main Line and it now functions as a synagogue and community center.

Lower Swedish Cabin (Establish c. 1640-1650)

Creek Rd., Drexel Hill

 

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Considered one of the oldest log cabins in the United States, it’s one of the last structures built by Swedish settlers that remains intact. Impressively, the building served as a private residence all the way up through 1937 and became the property of Upper Darby township in 1941.

Wynnestay (Established c. 1689)

5125 Woodbine Ave., Philadelphia

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Wynnestay was originally constructed all the way back in the 17th century, but it was extensively renovated in 1904. As of 2014, it was one of the oldest houses in America up for sale, listed for $649,000. It was initially owned by Welsh Quaker Thomas Wynne, who gave his name to the suburb of Wynnewood.

Newtown Square Paper Mill (Established c. 1828)

3 Paper Mill Rd., Newtown Square

This stone bridge shaded by the historical Paper Mill House is almost 200 years old.
This stone bridge shaded by the historical Paper Mill House is almost 200 years old. Photo by Ben Silver

Repurposed as a local history museum, this three-story stone building right off St. Davids Road was constructed in 1828 to house four families that worked at the local mills along Darby Creek. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002, the archaeological remains of both old mills litter the creek that sits in its shadow.

Pont Reading (Established c. 1730)

2713 Haverford Rd., Ardmore

The former residence of shipbuilder and architect Joshua Humphreys, this historic building was named after his family’s homestead in Wales. Humphreys is most well known for his design of the USS Constitution, known as “Old Ironsides.” Launched in 1797, she is the world’s oldest ship still afloat.

Related: 9 Instagrammable Views and Vistas Around the Main Line Region

Our Best of the Main Line & Western Suburbs Party is July 25!