Germantown Historical Society
5501 Germantown Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19144
(215) 844-1683

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Philadelphia's Germantown is not only rich in history, it contains a wealth of 18th and 19th century architecture -- some of the nation's most beautiful.

The Historical Society Museum and Library hold a collection of more than 50,000 objects, documents and photographs. On display visitors can see 17th century furnishings, clocks, paintings and more. Behind the scenes tours offer a glimpse of everyday items from Colonial America such as sausage grinders, spinning wheels, mousetraps, and many other objects people used during their routine activities.

The Library collection extends back to 1683 and includes personal and public documents, newspapers, photographs, land records, and a host of other material invaluable to researchers and history buffs.

The Historical Society maintains or helps interpret a range of historic and cultural sites. Those listed elsewhere in this guide include Cliveden, Grumblethorpe (see Landmarks Society), Stenton, Historic Rittenhouse Town, and the LaSalle University Art Museum.

Other sites that can be toured individually or featured as part of one of the Historical Society's many tours include:

  • Upsala, 6430 Germantown Avenue, (215) 842-1798: A beautiful Federal style home that was the site of the American encampment during the Battle of Germantown.
  • Concord School House, 6309 Germantown Avenue, (215) 843-0943: A 1775 one-room schoolhouse with original bell, belfry, and schoolmaster's desk.
  • Johnson House, 6306 Germantown Avenue, (215) 843-0943: A beautiful building that was part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.
  • Mennonite Meetinghouse, 6121 Germantown Avenue, (215) 843-0943: Erected in 1770, it is one Germantown's oldest buildings. Displays illustrate Mennonite history and the first recorded protest against slavery.
  • Wyck, 6026 Germantown Avenue, (215) 848-1690: Features three centuries of original furnishings and a beautiful 19th century garden.
  • Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion, 200 W. Tulpehocken St., (215) 438-1861: A gorgeous 1859 Victorian suburban villa with Philadelphia-made furniture.
  • Awbury Arboretum, 1 Awbury Place, (215) 849-2855: Built around the Francis Cope House, this 55-acre arboretum features a formal English landscape and a natural area.
  • Deshler-Morris House, 5442 Germantown Avenue, (215) 596-1748: George Washington stayed here during the yellow fever epidemic of 1793-94.

Call the appropriate number for more information on individual places. The Germantown Historical Society, also known as Historic Germantown Preserved, offers thematic tours to selected sites for all ages. Tours focus on Architecture, Textiles and Interiors, The Ladies of Germantown, Germantown Families, or other topics.

School Groups can enjoy and learn from the many tours and programs available for them. Here are just a few to give you an idea:

  • Introduction to Historic Germantown (grades 4-12): View a narrated slide show spans three centuries of local history.
  • Gadgets and Gizmos: Industry in Germantown (grades K-6): Germantown and the creativity of inventors and entrepreneurs during the Industrial Revolution are explored in this exciting program.
  • Introduction to Archival Research (grades 9-12): Students learn how to use genealogical and land records, maps, oral intrviews and other materials and techniques to uncover history.

Many other programs are available, each providing a valuable education on some aspect of culture and history. Visit the official website, linked above, for additional information.

Hours: Museums and Library open Tuesdays 9am - 1pm, and Thursdays 1 - 5pm. Call for Sunday hours. Call to confirm before visiting.
To Museum:
Adults $3.00
Seniors $2.00
Students $2.00
Children under 10 FREE
To Library:
Adults $10.00
Students $5.00
GHS Members FREE
Call for info on multiple site tours.
School programs cost from about $2.00 - $4.00 per student, depending on age.
Extensive guided tours encompassing several historic sites are available for groups. Call for details or visit the official website, linked above.
Reservations: At least 2 weeks in advance for family tours and programs and 4 weeks for group tours and programs.
Lunch: Bag lunch can be eaten on most school tours. Local restaurants.
Handicapped Access: Call with your needs.
Directions: From I-76, take Exit 340A (Lincoln Drive, formerly Exit 32) and follow the signs to Lincoln Drive. At first light, turn right onto Rittenhouse Street. At next light, turn right onto Wissahickon Avenue. At the second light on Wissahickon, turn left onto School House Lane and continue to Germantown Avenue. Turn right, then make an immediate left onto Church Lane.

Copyright © 1996-2014 by Patrick Tadeushuk. All Rights Reserved.