Germantown Tour

Executive Mansion

Executive Mansion
From November 16 - 30, 1793, President George Washington lived in this rented home while Philadelphia remained under quarantine for yellow fever. Washington met with his cabinet here, and together, they conducted the nation's business and addressed issues of foreign policy. The following summer, President Washington returned with his family to enjoy the expansive gardens and orchards in this "fine airy place".   
During the summer of 1794 Washington returned to the home, this time with servants and his family, including wife Martha and step grandchildren, in order to escape the summer heat of the city. The enslaved servants included Oney Judge, Austin, Moll, and Hercules. Moll attended to the grandchildren, Nelly and Young Wash. Oney Judge served as seamstress and personal servant to Martha Washington. Hercules prepared meals for the family. Martha raised flowers, the President posed for painter Gilbert Stuart, and the family attended the German Reformed Church across the square from their house.       ��

Kunders and Conrad Family House

In 1683, very soon after the arrival of this little band, the first Friends meeting in Germantown was held in the house of Thones Kunders, and likely was continued there until the first meeting-house was built in 1686, and it is reasonable to presume that the dignified Penn "sat in silence " under old Kunder's roof. That Kunders was a devout Friend, is evident from the provision in his will, where he gave to his son-in-law, Griffith Thones Kunders and his children, "The bed and furniture standing in the New Room to be for the vise of friends." The Friends at Germantown built their first meetinghouse of stone in 1705. It stood in their present graveyard on the street. Thones Kunders contributed £ 10 11s. toward it, presumably part in work and part in money. While living at Crefeld, Thones Kunders carried on the trade of a blue dyer, and continued the same after settling in Germantown. In his will he speaks of his "out-houses, stills, and Dying Kettle, Worms and Wormtubbs thereunto belonging." At one time he was recorder of the Court. In 1688, the little band of Friends at Germantown, Thones Kunders being one of them, -raised their voices in opposition to the institution of slavery, it being the first recorded protest against slavery in America.      

The Johnson House

 It’s easy to imagine 19th-century freedom fighters Harriet Tubman and William Still meeting at this Quaker home in Germantown, owned by four generations of the abolitionist Johnson family. Rustic hardwood floors, cabinets and the building’s stone and brick exterior, as well as a third-floor attic where runaway enslaved Africans were hidden, reflect the building’s auspicious past.

The house, built with outside-and-inside shutters, still has damage from musket rounds and cannonballs shot during the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Germantown in 1777. Despite the Quakers disdain for the large and extravagant, the Johnson House was one of the largest homes in Philadelphia.

Various slavery artifacts, including collars and ankle shackles, are on display with an exceptional array of educational material in rooms that feature history lectures, art shows and other special programs.

Constructed in 1768, the Johnson House was inhabited by the Johnson family until 1908. During the 1800s, the home became vital to the Underground Railroad movement. Harriet Tubman was sheltered and fed here with the enslaved Africans she would often later guide to Lucretia Mott’s nearby home in Cheltenham


Now a six-acre oasis in the middle of a bustling Philadelphia neighborhood, Cliveden is an estate in the suburb of Germantown with a rich, fascinating and bloody history. The mansion was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1972 — and, based on what’s happened there, it’s not hard to see why.

The House
In an attempt to avoid the yellow fever outbreaks that plagued Philadelphia during mid- to late 18th century summers, Benjamin Chew purchased 11 acres of land in Germantown and constructed the Cliveden estate between 1763 and 1767.

Born on a Maryland plantation, Chew was the patriarch of one of the largest and latest slave-holding families in Philadelphia. The Chews’ wealth during the 18th and 19th centuries largely came directly or indirectly from slavery.

The Revolutionary War
The Cliveden estate played a major role in the only battle fought within the boundaries of Philadelphia during the American Revolution: the Battle of Germantown.

In the fall of 1777, the British occupied Philadelphia. In an attempt to reclaim the city, Gen. George Washington and at least 11,000 men decided to attack the city from the northwest — right through Germantown.

A skirmish up the road from the Cliveden estate alerted the British that the Americans were approaching. Dozens of British soldiers then holed up in the estate and, over the course of several hours, successfully prevented the Americans from taking the house. More than 1,000 men from both sides were either killed or injured during the intense fighting in battle, and the Americans retreated in defeat.


Center City-South Philadelphia

Edgar Allen Poe House

Poe (1809-1849), one of America’s most original writers, lived in this red brick home with his wife, Virginia, and his mother-in-law, Maria Clemm, for about a year. During that time, he penned The Black Cat, which describes a basement eerily similar to the one here.

Visitors can tour the stark rooms and cellar of the three-story home where Poe’s imagination ran seductively wild. Rangers recount how Poe dealt with family poverty, Virginia’s grave illness and his own personal demons. In the buildings are exhibits on Poe’s family and his literary contemporaries, plus a theater that shows an informative eight-minute film.

Administered by the National Park Service, this was Poe’s residence in 1843 before he moved to New York City. Of his several Philadelphia homes, only this one survives. It serves as a tangible link to Poe at the height of his literary achievements. Although best known for his Gothic horror tales, Poe also created beautiful poetry, was a pioneer science fiction writer, and is credited with inventing the modern detective story with Murders in the Rue Morgue.    

Betsy Ross House

The well-known and loved story of Betsy Ross sewing the first Stars & Stripes is tightly woven into the colorful fabric of America's rich history. The Betsy Ross House, the birthplace of the American flag, is alive with the sights and sounds of the 18th century. Tour the house and then stay a while longer to learn more about Betsy and her exciting life and times through our interactive, historical programming.  The Betsy Ross House is a landmark in Philadelphia purported to be the site where the seamstress and flag-maker Betsy Ross (1752-1836) lived when she sewed the first American Flag. The origins of the Betsy Ross myth trace back to her relatives, particularly her grandsons, William and George Canby, and the celebrations of the Centennial of 1876. Evidence for the precise location of Ross' home came from verification provided by several surviving family members, although the best archival evidence indicates the house would have been adjacent to the one that still stands today as The Betsy Ross House. Although the house is one of the most visited tourist sites in Philadelphia, the claim that Ross once lived there, and that she designed and sewed the first American flag, sometimes called the Betsy Ross flag, are considered false by most historians. The house sits on Arch Street, several blocks from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The front part of the building was built around 1740, in the Pennsylvania colonial style, with the stair hall and the rear section added 10 to 20 years later. Had she lived here, Ross would have resided in the house from 1776, the death of her first husband, John Ross, until about 1779.       

Arch Street Friends Meeting House

The Arch Street Friends Meeting House, at 320 Arch Street at the corner of 4th Street in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a Meeting House of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Built to reflect Friends’ testimonies of simplicity and equality, this building is little changed after more than two centuries of continuous use. Pennsylvania founder and Quaker William Penn deeded land to the Society of Friends in 1701 to be used as a burial ground. The east wing and center of the meetinghouse was built between 1803 and 1805 according to a design by the Quaker carpenter Owen Biddle, Jr. Biddle is best known as the author of a builder’s handbook, The Young Carpenter's Assistant, published in 1805. The building was enlarged in 1810–11, with the addition of the west wing. Architects Walter Ferris Price and Morris & Erskine also contributed to the design and construction of the building. The firm Cope & Lippincott renovated the interior of the east wing and designed the two-story addition behind the center building in 1968–69. Today, the Meeting House continues to be a center for worship and the activities of the Monthly, and Yearly Meetings of Friends. Notable members of the Religious Society of Friends who worshiped at this meetinghouse include abolitionist and suffragist Lucretia Mott. Edward Hicks, the noted painter and cousin of Elias Hicks, also attended meeting here. The meetinghouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and declared a National Historic Landmark in 2011.  The ground upon which the meetinghouse was built was the first burial ground for Quakers in Philadelphia. Although the plot was officially given to the Society of Friends by William Penn in 1701, burials had been taking place here since as early as 1683. According to reports, Quakers were buried here alongside of “Indians, Blacks and strangers.”      

Mother Bethel AME Church

The Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church is a historic church and congregation at 419 South 6th Street in Center City Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. The congregation, founded in 1794, is the oldest African Methodist Episcopal congregation in the nation. Its present church, completed in 1890, is the oldest church property in the United States to be continuously owned by African Americans. The church was organized by African-American members of St. George's Methodist Church who walked out due to racial segregation in the worship services. Mother Bethel was one of the first African-American churches in the United States, dedicated July 29, 1794, by Bishop Francis Asbury. On October 12, 1794, Reverend Robert Blackwell announced that the congregation was received in full fellowship in the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1816 Rev Richard Allen brought together other black Methodist congregations from the region to organize the new African Methodist Episcopal Church denomination. He was elected bishop of this denomination. After the American Civil War, its missionaries went to the South to help freedmen and planted many new churches in the region. Allen and his wife, Sarah Allen are both buried in the present church's crypt. The current church building was constructed in 1888-1890 and it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1972.        

Marian Anderson Historical Residence Museum

The Marian Anderson Historical Residence Museum is the Epi-Center for the Life and Legacy of Marian Anderson. The understated exterior of the 19th century, 2-story Marian Anderson House at 762  South Martin Street (Marian Anderson Way- in-between 19th &20th & Fitzwater Street in Center City West Rittenhouse Square District ) bears a plaque from the Philadelphia Historical Commission. The house was declared an historic property in 2004, roughly eleven years after the death of the owner of the house, who also happened to be America 's greatest contralto singer of the 20th century.  The Marian Anderson Residence Museum has been placed on the National Register Of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior. A canvas awning bearing the initials MA covers the front door area - the only awning on this staid street that experienced a major real estate boom shortly after the house became the Marian Anderson Historical Society, Inc Ms. Anderson bought the house in 1924, transforming the small basement into an entertainment center. The area included a portable bar stocked with champagne and water (Anderson’s favorite drinks), a few pieces of furniture and a piano. Here she would entertain friends and  fellow musicians while resting up from world tours. Blacks during this time could  not go out socially, so homeowners would enhance their basements to entertain friends. Ms. Anderson’s modest home contains rare photos, books, memorabilia and films about her life, and also supports an artists-in-residence program developed by the Marian Anderson Historical Society to encourage and mentor outstanding classical artists. 


The Royal Theater

The Royal Theater was a center of African American culture in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Built in 1919, by the 1930s the theater had earned the reputation as "America's Finest Colored Photoplayhouse". The theater closed in 1970, after attendance dwindled and the threat of the Crosstown Expressway had decimated the neighborhood. (The proposed highway was never built.) In 2000, Kenny Gamble’s Universal Companies purchased the Royal, 1522 and 1536 South, buildings on either side of the theater, as well as 1523, 1537 and 1539 Kater St. (the narrow street just south of South) and 1521–1523 South St. (across the street), from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia for $250,000.  In April 2013 Universal Companies applied for a demolition permit claiming the renovation was "economically unfeasible." Universal's proposal would preserve only the facade and a small portion of the front for culture use while the remaining property would be developed for commercial use. On May 20, 2013 local Philadelphia resident Juan Levy filed in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas a petition seeking to appoint local real estate developer Ori Feibush as conservator over the property to save it from further deterioration.     

Wynnefield-West Philadelphia

Philadelphia Stars Negro League Memorial Park

West Parkside is home to the Philadelphia Stars Negro League Memorial Park, located at the intersection of Belmont and Parkside Avenues. It is built on the historic site of the ballpark which hosted the Philadelphia Stars as well as Negro League World Series games in the 1930s and 1940s, and came to be known by its location as the 44th and Parkside ballpark.

The Memorial Park was envisioned by the Business Association of West Parkside and realized through the collaborative efforts of the BAWP, City of Philadelphia, Major League Baseball, Philadelphia Phillies, Parkside Association of Philadelphia and a coalition of local groups in 2004.

Business Association member organizations and the Philadelphia Phillies gather on an annual basis on April 15, Jackie Robinson Day, to celebrate and honor the legacy of Jackie Robinson, the Philadelphia Stars, and African-American baseball in Philadelphia.

At the site of the Memorial Park are three tributes to the Philadelphia Stars and Negro League baseball in Philadelphia. These include the Pennsylvania Historic Site marker (1998), Phil Sumpter's Philadelphia Stars memorial statue (2005), and the Philadelphia MuralArts program mural celebrating the Stars by David McShane. The Stars Memorial Park and mural face each other across Belmont Avenue.      

The Paul Robeson House

The Paul Robeson House was the home of internationally renowned American bass-baritone concert singer, actor of film and stage, All-American and professional athlete, writer, multi-lingual orator, human rights activist, and lawyer Paul Robeson from 1966 until 1976. Located in West Philadelphia, the Robeson House produces, presents and promotes traveling lectures, concerts and exhibits so that learning about Robeson is accessible to all ages and cultures. In 1998 the West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, under the direction of Ms. Frances Aulston, initiated a major campaign to restore the Paul Robeson House. Since then, the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission and the White House have officially recognized the museum as a national historic preservation site.       

House of Umoja-Boys Town

Founded in September of 1968, the House of Umoja (HOU) was officially organized in 1970 as a youth development agency. At that time gang warfare was a horrendous problem in Philadelphia. When Falaka Fattah and her husband David discovered that one of her six sons had joined a gang, they took a bold step and invited the gang members to become part of their family. The Fattah’s realized that many of these youth had limited family support and little or no family values. For many, the gang was their only family. The Fattah’s promised to keep them fed, clothed and out of jail thus the Fattah home became the House of Umoja Boys Town. During its 44-year history, the House of Umoja has been a leading force in the reduction of gang deaths in the city of Philadelphia. Its success has been widely documented by law enforcement agencies, academia, and the news media