Iron & Steel Museum

The history of the American iron and steel industry was shaped by the personalities involved in the founding of the industry. Isaac Pennock founded the Brandywine Iron Works and Nail Factory in the early 19th century, reasoning that the area, located along the Brandywine River, had the right run and depth to power a mill. The company would eventually expand to become Lukens Inc. Pennock’s son-in-law, Dr. Charles Lukens, a physician by training, gave up his medical practice to partner with his father-in-law in the iron business.

Dr. Lukens’ successful foray into iron plate production passed to his wife after his untimely death at the age of 39. Rebecca Lukens, a young mother, demonstrated the foresight to eventually modernize the mill and make it capable of responding to the demands of the industrial revolution. She rebuilt and expanded the mill through the 1820s and 30s and became the nation’s first female industrialist. A long line of family members continued with the business in addition to the company’s countless men and women who were involved in the day-to-day operations of the mill.

Today you can visit this National Landmark property along South First Avenue which includes several key residential and office buildings that played a significant role in the development of Lukens. The proximity of these homes and offices to the mill reflects the Lukens and Huston families’ long-standing commitment to living and working close to the factory and the community.

The Brandywine Mansion is the oldest structure in the Lukens Historic District dating to the mid-1700s. Rebecca Lukens built Terracina in 1850-51 for her daughter Isabella who married Dr. Charles Huston. The Martha Gibbons House/VFW was built for daughter Martha. The C. L. Huston House was where Charles Lukens Huston lived while he was vice president in charge of operations at the mill. Of course, Graystone Mansion is the most architecturally significant residence in the district. Located nearby are the steel making mills and steel rolling mills. You can also get a glimpse into the operations of this steel company by visiting the Lukens Executive Office Building.

Come and visit this iron and steel complex. Together, the company, the Lukens family and the City of Coatesville offer a view of how small town steel developed, struggled and survives. Guided tours are given. An archival collection is open for researchers. A calendar of events includes specialized tours, concerts, lectures, a Victorian ice cream festival and Holiday events. Call for hours and an appointment.