Historic Rittenhouse Town

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Located in Philadelphia, Historic Rittenhouse Town is an industrial community that was erected in the late seventeenth century. The site is home to America’s first paper mill, which was built by William Rittenhouse and his son Nicholas in 1690. Six original buildings including the Rittenhouse family’s homestead, barn, and bake house are open to the public for viewing. Four Rittenhouse paper mills remained operable through the 1800s and continue to sit on the edge of Monoshone Creek. Interestingly, these mills were responsible for producing paper that was purchased and used by Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the nation. Rittenhouse paper was also used to create hats for the Pennsylvania militia during the Revolutionary War. The Rittenhouse family used scraps from a rag supplier in nearby Germantown to manufacture their paper. Prior to the establishment of paper mills in British North America, colonists secretly imported paper from France.

Friends of Historic Rittenhouse Town was established in 1984 by Hugh Hanson in order to spearhead preservation efforts for the industrial village. Some of the organization’s first accomplishments include the restoration of the Abraham Rittenhouse home and its conversion into the Visitor’s Center in 1992.


Historic Rittenhouse Town. (n.d.). About. https://rittenhousetown.org/about/

Independence Hall Association. (n.d.). Historic Rittenhouse Town. https://www.ushistory.org/germantown/upper/rittenhouse.htm

Whitten, H. (2009). The Rittenhouse paper mill circa 1690...the beginning in America. PaperAge. http://www.paperage.com/issues/nov_dec2009/11_2009of_interest_rittenhou…

Catalog ID CL0555