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The Historic American Revolution Trail of Philadelphia

Sites throughout the region recount America’s fight for independence

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The Museum of the American Revolution Photo by J. Fusco for the Museum of the American Revolution
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Long before the first musket shot was fired in Lexington in 1775, the seeds of the American Revolution were taking root in Philadelphia as colonists declared their independence and began preparing for war.

For visitors eager to delve into this tumultuous time in history, the Museum of the American Revolution — located in the heart of Philadelphia’s Historic District — delivers a full-picture story of this world-changing war, creating the perfect starting point for their exploration.

Two-and-a-half centuries after the Revolution, dozens of key sites and landmarks throughout the region remain, giving visitors a glimpse into the fascinating stories of that tumultuous time.

01

Museum of the American Revolution

An expansive collection of art and artifacts from the nation’s Revolutionary Period

Museum of the American Revolution exterior Museum of the American Revolution exterior
— Photo by J. Fusco for the Museum of the American Revolution

The Museum of the American Revolution tells the whole story of the world-changing American War of Independence. George Washington’s headquarters tent and dozens of arms, uniforms, artifacts, documents and historical vignettes have made their home in the heart of Philadelphia’s Historic District, where the idea for the revolution began.

Where: Museum of the American Revolution, 101 S. 3rd Street

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02

Carpenters’ Hall

Meeting place of the First Continental Congress

Carpenters' Hall exterior Carpenters' Hall exterior
— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Fed up with King George’s taxes and trade policies, representatives from 12 colonies (Georgia didn’t attend) gathered at Carpenters’ Hall in 1774 for the First Continental Congress and voted on a trade embargo, the first of many unified acts of defiance against the realm.

Where: Carpenters’ Hall, 320 Chestnut Street

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03

City Tavern

Colonial America is recreated at this authentic tavern in Old City

City Tavern City Tavern
— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

After long days debating the future of the colonies, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and other Founding Fathers gathered at City Tavern for the 18th-century version of happy hour. Recreated to its original design, City Tavern now sates 21st-century appetites, serving hearty fare and beverages to hungry diners in a colonial setting.

Where: City Tavern, 138 S. 2nd Street

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04

Declaration (Graff) House

Where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence

Declaration (Graff) House Declaration (Graff) House
— Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Hard to believe that the Graff House (also known as Declaration House), situated just blocks from the hustle and bustle of Independence Hall, was once a country refuge providing Thomas Jefferson with the peace and quiet he needed to draft the Declaration of Independence. Tour hours are limited and can be found online.

Where: Declaration (Graff) House, 2 S. 7th Street

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05

Independence Hall

Birthplace of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution

Independence Hall Independence Hall
— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

During the blistering summer of 1776, 56 delegates gathered at the Pennsylvania State House and pledged their “lives, their fortune and their sacred honor” in the pursuit of independence. Now known as Independence Hall, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is where the Declaration of Independence was signed, finalizing the colonies’ break with England. Tickets, which are required for tours, are free and available at the Independence Visitor Center.

Where: Independence Hall, 520 Chestnut Street

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06

Powel House

A luxurious mid-Georgian 18th-century mansion

Powel House Powel House
— Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

After long days debating independence, the Founding Fathers often headed to Powel House. At this elegant 18th-century townhouse, the guests enjoyed what John Adams called a “Sinful Feast,” along with dancing in the Rococo ballroom. While Samuel Powel was a cautious patriot, his wife Elizabeth would become one of General Washington’s closest advisers.

Where: Powel House, 244 S. 3rd Street

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07

Harriton House

Home of Charles Thomson, secretary of the Continental Congresses

Perched amid 16 acres of parkland, Harriton House quietly holds a place in America’s history. Built in 1704, it was home to Charles Thomson, an abolitionist who became secretary to both Continental Congresses. The original desk where Thomson signed the copy of the Declaration of Independence that was sent to King George is discreetly placed in Harriton’s great hall.

Where: Harriton House, 500 Harriton Road, Bryn Mawr, PA

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08

The Betsy Ross House

The birthplace of the American flag

Visitors gathered inside the Betsy Ross House with flag Visitors gathered inside the Betsy Ross House with flag
— Photo by M. Kennedy for Historic Philadelphia, Inc.

Not once, but twice, the Revolutionary War left the young upholsterer Betsy Ross a widow. After losing her first husband, John Ross, to an ammunition explosion, she wed John Ashburn, who died after being captured and imprisoned by the British. Betsy herself is on site daily, plying her trade as she welcomes visitors with stories of colonial-era life.

Where: The Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch Street

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09

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

The Continental Army and Navy needed armaments, and Hopewell Furnace was one of the foundries that supplied the troops with cannons, shots and shells, including 115 big guns for the Continental Navy. Built in 1771 by the ironmaster Mark Bird, Hopewell Furnace consists of a mansion (the big house), spring and smoke houses, blacksmith shop, office store, charcoal house and even the remains of a schoolhouse. The summer season brings with it living history demonstrations and other historic activities.

Where: Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, 2 Mark Bird Lane, Elverson, PA

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10

New Hall Military Museum

Exterior of Carpenters' Hall Exterior of Carpenters' Hall
— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

The New Hall Military Museum, a reconstruction of the first Secretary of War’s headquarters, features exhibits that trace the founding of the U.S. Marines, Army and Navy during the Revolution. Modern-day visitors will find dozens of examples of colonial-era weaponry, scale models and other artifacts

Where: New Hall Military Museum, 320 Chestnut Street

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11

Congregation Mikveh Israel

When the American troops were low on weapons, food, supplies and the money to purchase them, Haym Salomon, a member of Congregation Mikveh Israel, stepped up and helped finance and underwrite the war. He was so generous with his personal resources that he died penniless. Hayim Salomon is buried at Congregation Mikveh Israel Cemetery.

Where: Congregation Mikveh Israel, 44 N. 4th Street

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12

Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial

Philadelphia residence of the Revolutionary War’s Polish military engineer

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The ragtag Continental army had Polish colonel Thaddeus Kosciuszko to thank for the brilliant military engineering that helped them defeat the Redcoats. Following the Revolution, Kosciuszko lived in Philadelphia and welcomed top leaders to his charming residence, before returning to his native Poland to lead a nationalist uprising against Russia.

Where: Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, 301 Pine Street

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13

Washington Crossing Historic Park

Where Washington made his famous trip across the Delaware

Washington Crossing Historic Park reenactors in boat Washington Crossing Historic Park reenactors in boat
— Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

In 1776, General Washington gave the British troops a morning-after-Christmas surprise — a sneak attack that ultimately turned the tide of the Revolutionary War. Echoes of that historic event are evidenced throughout Washington Crossing Historic Park, where centuries-old historic houses and buildings and a visitors center recount that daring trip. Each Christmas, hearty souls don colonial attire and recreate that daring and dangerous river crossing. (See picture above.)

Where: Washington Crossing Historic Park, 1112 River Road, Washington Crossing, PA

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14

Stenton

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During its long, storied history, Stenton mansion saw both sides of the war. In August 1777, General Washington sought refuge in this elegant manse as he made his way to the Battle of Brandywine. Then Britain’s General Howe occupied the estate for the month leading up to and through the Battle of Germantown. Tours offered in the afternoon, Tuesday through Saturday from April through December.

Where: Stenton, 4601 N. 18th Street

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15

Brandywine Battlefield Park

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On September 11, 1777, some 30,000 American and British soldiers faced off in one of the biggest battles of the Revolution. Despite being led by a who’s who of the Continental Army — Washington, Wayne, Lafayette, Knox and others — the Americans suffered a major blow on Brandywine Battlefield.

Where: Brandywine Battlefield Park, 878 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, PA

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16

Historic Houses of Chadds Ford

Both the Barns-Brinton House and John Chads’ springhouse suffered damage during the Battle of Brandywine in 1777. Before the battle, Washington himself may have surveyed the Brandywine from a hill behind the Chads’ House.

Where: Chadds Ford Historical Society, 1736 North Creek Road, Chadds Ford, PA

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17

Historic Waynesborough

During the Continental Army’s winter encampment at Valley Forge, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, one of Washington’s most celebrated generals, would sometimes return to his family home, Historic Waynesborough, for a good night’s sleep. The Battle of Paoli took place steps away from the front door and yet the house survived unscathed.

Where: Waynesborough Historic House, 2049 Waynesborough Road, Paoli, PA

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18

Paoli Battlefield

On September 21, 1777, under cover of night, British soldiers defeated American forces during a sneak attack that became a bloody rout at Paoli Battlefield. A marker honors the 53 American soldiers who were killed by British troops. The grounds mark the ninth bloodiest battle of the war and feature the second-oldest Revolutionary War monument.

Where: Paoli Battlefield Historical Park, Monument Avenue & Wayne Avenue, Malvern, PA

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19

Peter Wentz Farmstead

An authentic, working 18th-century Pennsylvania German farm

In early October 1777, General Washington and his staff chose the Peter Wentz Farmstead as a headquarters while they planned a strategy to engage the British forces in Philadelphia, resulting in their defeat at the Battle of Germantown. Washington’s contingent returned to the Wentz property for four days before settling in for the winter at Valley Forge.

Where: Peter Wentz Farmstead, 2030 Shearer Road, Lansdale, PA

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20

Hope Lodge & Mather Mill

Georgian mansion in colonial and colonial revival decoration

A Georgian estate designed by the architect behind Independence Hall, Hope Lodge served as quarters for Washington’s most dependable general Nathaniel Green and was used as a hospital by Washington’s surgeon general John Cochran in the fall of 1777.

Where: Hope Lodge & Mather Mill, 553 S. Bethlehem Pike, Fort Washington, PA

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21

Cliveden

A grand Germantown mansion with a fascinating — and bloody — history

Cliveden exterior Cliveden exterior
— Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

The Battle of Germantown resulted in a crushing defeat of the American rebels. Fought on the grounds of the Cliveden estate in 1777, the combat saw more than 1,000 men on each side killed or wounded and Washington’s troops decimated. Still visible is the “blood portrait” drawn on a wall by a dying British soldier using his own blood. Every year on the first Saturday in October, costumed reenactors gather here for a day of remembrance that includes family-friendly activities and a recreation of the historic battle. The museum and grounds also give visitors a chance to experience tours and exhibitions.

Where: Cliveden, 6401 Germantown Avenue

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22

Grumblethorpe

The bloody business of war still haunts Grumblethorpe, home of the Wister family and occupied by British Brigadier General James Agnew before the Battle of Germantown. Shot by a sniper, Agnew bled to death and more than two centuries later, the bloodstains are still visible on the floor.

Where: Grumblethorpe, 5267 Germantown Avenue

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23

Wyck House

The Quaker way of life preserved for 300 years in Germantown

Wyck house exterior Wyck house exterior
— Photo by D. Wisniewski for Visit Philadelphia

During the Battle of Germantown, the Quaker-owned Wyck House was seized during the Battle of Germantown and used as a field hospital, the 18th-century version of a M.A.S.H. unit.

Where: Wyck House, 6026 Germantown Avenue

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24

Germantown White House (Deshler-Morris House)

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The Germantown White House once was home to the two fiercest foes in America’s history. After defeating George Washington in the Battle of Germantown, British General William Howe took over the summer retreat which was empty for the winter. Years later, Washington moved the first family into the home, a precursor to the “White House.” The red sofa in the house is thought to have belonged to Washington.

Where: Germantown White House (Deshler-Morris House), 5442 Germantown Avenue

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25

Thompson Neely House

During Washington’s campaign in 1776-77, wounded and ailing soldiers recovered at the Thompson Neely House, which had been transformed into a temporary regimental army hospital. James Monroe, who would later become the fifth president, was among the many who convalesced there.

Where: Thompson Neely House, 1638 River Road, Washington Crossing, PA

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26

Fort Mifflin

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For six long, cold weeks in 1777, a cadre of only 400 soldiers huddled inside Fort Mifflin to fend off British ships trying to bring supplies to British-occupied Philadelphia. Despite lack of food, freezing temperatures and rampant illness, the rebels held the ships back, giving Washington time to flee to Valley Forge where they would spend the winter rebuilding the army. Open Wednesday through Sunday from March through mid-December.

Where: Fort Mifflin, 82 Fort Mifflin Road

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27

Valley Forge National Historical Park

Where the spirit of the Revolution received its sternest test

Valley Forge National Historical Park scenery Valley Forge National Historical Park scenery
— Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia

Disease, supply problems, expiring enlistments and weakened morale took their toll on Washington’s troops during the winter encampment at Valley Forge — now memorialized as Valley Forge National Historical Park. Despite losing more than 2,000 soldiers to disease in the winter of 1777/1778, the army emerged a stronger fighting force, going on to stand their ground at the Battle of Monmouth. Today, Washington’s headquarters, monuments, recreations of soldiers huts, park rangers and volunteers recount the patriots’ sacrifices for freedom.

Where: Valley Forge National Historical Park, 1400 N. Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia, PA

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28

Christ Church Burial Ground

Visit the graves of Benjamin Franklin and other early American leaders

Christ Church Burial Ground Christ Church Burial Ground
— Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Dating back to 1719, Christ Church Burial Ground is the final resting place for several people who declared and fought for American independence. Among the 4,000 graves are Benjamin Franklin, Dr. Benjamin Rush, Francis Hopkinson and Revolutionary War officers Major William Jackson and General Jacob Morgan. On any given Sunday during the Revolutionary War, one could find a who’s who of the era worshipping at nearby Christ Church. Still an active church, “America’s Church” served as the house of worship for 15 signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Where: Christ Church Burial Ground, 340 N. 5th Street

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29

Concord School House and Upper Burying Ground

Many who gave their lives in the quest for freedom were unknown when they were laid to rest. Although the names of 52 of the Revolutionary War soldiers buried at the Concord School House and Upper Burying Ground are known, the names of six heroes killed during the Battle of Germantown remain unknown.

Where: Concord School House, 6309 Germantown Avenue

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30

Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church

— Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

While George and Martha Washington, John Adams and other colonial-era notables attended Old St. Mary’s Church, history also permeates the gravesite here. Commodore John Barry, founder of the American navy, is buried in the adjacent cemetery, along with General Washington’s aide-de-camp Stephen Moylan and other heroes of the Revolution.

Where: Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 252 S. 4th Street

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31

National Constitution Center

The world’s only museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution

The National Constitution Center on Independence Mall The National Constitution Center on Independence Mall
— Photo by D. Cruz for Visit Philadelphia

The National Constitution Center (NCC) picks up the narrative in 1787, three years after the end of the war, with the creation of a new government. Delegates from the former colonies gathered in Philadelphia and elected George Washington to preside over the Constitutional Convention (May 25-September 17, 1787), the result of which was the signing of the United States Constitution, ratified later that year. The NCC’s high-tech, interactive exhibitions explore how the document has evolved and influenced United States history through modern times.

Where: National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street

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32

The David Library of the American Revolution

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Everyone from the casually interested to the dedicated scholar can utilize the David Library of the American Revolution. Devoted solely to the American Revolution, the David Library boasts 10,000 reels of microfilm, nearly 8,000 books and 2,000 pamphlets among its holdings. Primary source materials include diaries, maps, muster rolls, letters, recipes and other information from the era.

 

Where: David Library of the American Revolution, 1201 River Road, Washington Crossing, PA

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33

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

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With almost 3,000 books, pamphlets and 191 archival collections dealing with the American Revolution, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania offers a vast array of primary source materials and research resources for inquiring minds.

Where: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1300 Locust Street

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34

Polish American Cultural Center

The Polish American Cultural Center offers a glimpse into the life and contributions of Thaddeus Kosciuszko, whose engineering genius helped win the Revolution.

Where: Polish American Cultural Center, 308 Walnut Street

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35

Chester County Historical Society

The library and research facilities at the Chester County Historical Society hold a wealth of information about people and events that played a regional role in the Revolutionary War.

Where: Chester County Historical Society, 225 North High Street, West Chester, PA

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Museum of the American Revolution
Carpenters’ Hall
City Tavern
Declaration (Graff) House
Independence Hall
Powel House
Harriton House
The Betsy Ross House
Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site
New Hall Military Museum
Congregation Mikveh Israel
Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial
Washington Crossing Historic Park
Stenton
Brandywine Battlefield Park
Historic Houses of Chadds Ford
Historic Waynesborough
Paoli Battlefield
Peter Wentz Farmstead
Hope Lodge & Mather Mill
Cliveden
Grumblethorpe
Wyck House
Germantown White House (Deshler-Morris House)
Thompson Neely House
Fort Mifflin
Valley Forge National Historical Park
Christ Church Burial Ground
Concord School House and Upper Burying Ground
Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church
National Constitution Center
The David Library of the American Revolution
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Polish American Cultural Center
Chester County Historical Society
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