History in the Brandywine and nearby
The Brandywine Battlefield Park is right in Chadds Ford, PA and offers visitors the chance to tour the Ring House, Washington's headquarters where he formulated his battle plans and Gideon Gilpin's farm house Lafayette's headquarters. At the Park's Visitors Center you can watch a fascinating film about the battle, see historical exhibits of uniforms, weapons and artifacts found on the battleground and buy Revolutionary War themed souvenirs. You can take one of several driving tours of the battlefield which stretches from Chadds Ford to the Dilworthtown Friends Meeting House and Birmingham-Lafayette Cemetery and park. It is a wonderful way to relive the actual events of the battle.
In September there is the re-enactment of the battle repleat with authentic costumes and Revolutionary War muskets, camp followers and encampments, craftmen and more.
Hagley Museum is where the du Pont story begins. Located along 235-acres along the banks of the Brandywine, Hagley is the site of the gunpowder works founded by E. I. du Pont in 1802. It provides a glimpse at early American industry and includes restored mills, a workers' community, and Eleutherian Mills, the ancestral home and gardens of the du Pont family. The museum grounds provide some of the most beautiful scenery in Brandywine valley no matter what the season. Make sure to budget some time just to soak in the views of the river. You could spend and entire afternoon at Hagley and enjoy lunch and a panoramic view on the grounds in Hagley's Belin House Restaurant.
Winterthur Museum & Gardens is the former country estate of Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969). Today, his estate houses the country's premier collection of American furniture and decorative arts circa 1640 to 1860, arranged in 175 "Period Rooms", the core of which was assembled by H. P. himself. The museum offers a facinating glimpse into the history of American furniture making.
Chadds Ford Historical Society in Chadds Ford near the Brandywine River Museum owns and operates the c. 1714 Barns-Brinton House and the c. 1725 John Chads House both of which are open to the public beginning the first weekend in May through the last weekend in September. During the summer two 18th century culinary experts demonstrate their skills during select dates at the Barns-Brinton House at the Chaddsford Winery.
Chester County Historical Society on High Street in West Chester, PA has nationally recognized 18th and 19th century decorative arts collections and their exhibits comprise seven galleries that tell the story of daily life and work in our region from the 1600's to today. Their decorative arts gallery features distinctive regional furniture made in Chester County from its European settlement in the 1680s to the 1820s. Open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Delaware History Center dominates the 500 block of Market Street Mall in downtown Wilmington and is composed of the Delaware History Museum, Old Town Hall, Willingtown Square, and HSD's research library. The museum is open Wednesday-Friday: 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. and Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Click to their calendar for events and exhibits.
The William Brinton 1704 House situated on a 450 acre land grant from William Penn, has been restored by the Brinton family to it original state. Built by William Brinton the Younger the house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1968. Furnished with period furniture, the house has leaded casement windows, an indoor bake oven and a colonial herb garden in the back yard. The house is maintained by the Brinton Association of America and the caretaker is a sixth generation Brinton. The house is open to the public May - October.
Historic New Castle, Delaware established in 1651, is just 25 minutes or so from Buckley's Tavern in Centreville, at the heart of the Brandywine Valley and about 10 minutes from Rodney Square at the center of Wilmington. The town is the where William Penn landed in the New World. The Old Court House, built in 1732 was where the state's colonial assembly met until 1777 when New Castle was Delaware's capital. You can tour the Court House 10 AM - 3:30 PM Tues. - Sat. , 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM on Sun. Admission is free. The Town Green, and the town itself, was laid out in 1651 by Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch Governor. Among the houses and buildings open to the public are the Dutch House, a late 17th century home furnished in the style of New Castle's early Dutch settlers; the Old Library on 3rd Street built in the shape of a hexagon and in the Victorian style, and The George Read II House and Garden at 42 The Strand, completed in 1804 by the son of George Read, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
The Newlin Grist Mill, a 1704 grist mill and 150-acre park, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the only working grist mill in Pennsylvania. The mill was originally built by Nicholas Newlin, a Quaker who obtained a 500 acre grant from William Penn. The park is open daily 8 a.m. to dusk office hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the park is free. There is a charge for tours of Historic Structures. Their "Harvest Festival" is held in October. Admission is $5 per car and included rides, Colonial paper making, blacksmith, cooking and craft demonstrations, live music, artisan stands and free admission to the grist mill, Miller's house and the other buildings at the park.
The Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation, is a 112 acre, living history, working farm in nearby Ridley Creek State Park, Media, PA. It provides a facinating open window to colonial farm life. The Plantation is open to the general public on weekends from mid April to mid November. On non-event weekends hours are 11 to 4, and the admission is $6 adults, $4 children ages 4 to 12. Children under 4 are admitted free of charge.
Area History Events |
In May, A Day in Olde New Castle is the oldest home and garden tour in the United States. Each year for the past 85 years, tourists from across the region have enjoyed the chance to step back in time to the historic era when New Castle served as the capital of the fledgling colony of Delaware. Residents open their private homes and gardens to the public. Many conduct tours of their properties in person, demonstrating, through a glimpse into personal lives, the continuing adaptation of old structures to new life.
In September there is an historical encampment weekend event, featuring re-enactors, and their equipment at Fort Mifflin located near the Philadelphia Airport...the only Revolutionary War battlefield completely intact. The garrison at the fort was ordered by General George Washington to hold off the British Navy so the Continental Army could make its way to their winter encampment at Valley Forge. You can tour the fort's 14 authentic restored, and some say haunted, buildings. Open to the Public Wednesday through Sunday 10 am to 4 pm.
In the fall the Brandywine Battlefield comes alive with events featuring military and civilian living historians, military re-enactors providing weapons firing demonstrations, and craft demonstrations. Check the battlefield website for details on events as the dates change year to year.
In Wilmington, DE the sailing replica of the Kalmar Nyckel is docked. The original Kalmar Nyckel was one of America's pioneering colonial ships, sailing from Sweden to the New World in 1638 and setting up a colony of 24 settlers called New Sweden in present day Wilmington. You can tour and sail on the ship. Click to their website for information on dates, times, etc.