PAPER MILL HOUSE & THE SQUARE TAVERN
Saturdays in July & August 1:00-4:00 pm
Paper Mill House & Museum, 2 Paper Mill Rd, Newtown Square, PA 19073
In 1860, Newtown Township was largely a farming community, full of Quaker descendants of Welsh Quakers who bought their original farms from William Penn and moved here in the late 1600’s. The census for that year shows 841 people in Newtown, most living on farms spread out throughout the township. But in one small corner of the Township, the census taker found a veritable beehive of activity: more than 100 men, women and children living along the banks of the Darby Creek, skilled weavers and crafts people, many recent immigrants from England and Ireland, working at several textile mills turning the wool from local sheep in woolen blankets and other goods that were sent throughout the country.
Today, those mills are ruins along the creek, but one of the mill workers homes, and a museum of local history, including a period 1850’s general store, can still be found along the banks of the Darby Creek in Newtown.
The Square Tavern, Newtown Street Road (Rt 252) and Goshen Road)
In the summer of 1748 at the local tavern in Newtown Square, the proprietor’s 11 year old son had been practicing his drawing, using his school pen and any available surface to sketch birds, flowers, and whatever else caught his fancy. Native Indians still populated Pennsylvania, and in summers they would return to Delaware County to live. They noticed the young artist and his work, and shared with him how to mix local materials to make the red and yellow colors with which they decorated their ornaments. A whole new world opened to the young boy, one that eventually led him to London, where in time he became court painter to King George III, the co-founder of the Royal Academy of Arts, and one of the greatest painters of the day. The boy was Benjamin West, the father of American painting. The tavern? Still at the same corner since 1742!
The Museum and the Tavern are open to the public each Saturday in July and August from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Tour guides are present at both locations. Please take advantage of this opportunity to tour the museum and walk in the steps of those early millworkers, and the artist, Benjamin West.
Admission is free; but donations to the Newtown Square Historical Society are cheerfully accepted.