Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Road Trip - Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Town

Mennonite William Rittenhouse (1644-1708) immigrated to Pennsylvania from Holland & settled on the north bank of Monoshone Creek around 1690, opening one of the first paper mills in British North America there with his son, Nicholas. A second mill, homestead, & bake house quickly followed, and for 8 generations the family lived & worked all along the Monoshone & Wissahickon Creeks. The Rittenhouses went into partnership with William Bradford, Philadelphia's early printer.

In nearby Germantown, colonial weavers were busily transforming flax into linens for the surrounding community. When the fabric shredded into rags, locals would bring them to Rittenhouse Town to be made into paper. Paper produced at the Rittenhouse mill was sold to printers in nearby Germantown, Philadelphia, and even far away New York to become Bibles, broadsides, newspapers, & almanacs.

Seven of the early 18th-century German buildings survive. In the early 19th century, John Fanning Watson wrote of these early Dutch structures. "Most of the old houses in Germantown are plastered on the inside with clay and straw mixed, and over it is laid a finishing coat of thin plaster." Historic Rittenhouse Town is now a National Historic Landmark.

Rittenhouse Paper Mill & Homestead

Jacob Rittenhouse Home

Rittenhouse Homestead

Enoch Rittenhouse Home

Rittenhouse Paper Mill

Jacob Rittenhouse Home

Abraham Rittenhouse Home

Enoch Rittenhouse Home

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