Type: Museums

The Historical Society of the Phoenixville Area

Founded in 1977, the Historical Society of the Phoenixville Area promotes the rich heritage of the Phoenixville community and is a repository for artifacts, documents and photographs of that heritage. Located in the former Central Lutheran Church (1872) at Church and Main Streets in Phoenixville, the society operates a museum and research library. Among permanent exhibits are Native American artifacts, early maps and pictures of the area, boat models and other artifacts related to the Schuylkill Canal, Etruscan Majolica pottery made in Phoenixville in the late 19th Century, and an extensive exhibit tracing the growth of the iron and steel industry in Phoenixville. The research library contains books, documents and photographs related to the history of people, places, organizations and businesses in the community. The Museum and Library are open to the public Wednesdays and Fridays, 9 AM to 3 PM, the first Sunday of the month, 1 to 4 PM, and also by appointment.

Winterthur Museum and Country Estate

Nestled in the heart of Delaware’s beautiful Brandywine Valley, halfway between New York and Washington, D.C., Winterthur is a world set apart – a place where history lives on in spectacular gardens and romantic landscapes, a fabulous mansion filled with magnificent American antiques, and a nationally renowned research library.

Created in the early 20th century by H. F. du Pont and his father, Winterthur was designed in the spirit of 18th and 19th century European country houses. Today Winterthur is one of the few surviving great American country estates, beautifully maintained as a place of discovery, delight, exploration and imagination. Every season, and every visit, promises inspired new experiences and the Winterthur tradition of hospitality.

Step into the inspiring architectural surroundings of the mansion and view magnificent vignettes of antiques celebrating the finest in style and craftsmanship. The Winterthur Galleries are full of stunning displays of everyday life, art, leisure and work. Celebrate every season in Winterthur’s naturalistic garden, a masterpiece of color and design.

Garden tram tours make stops at areas of special interest. Children thrill at the Touch-It Room as well as the crafts and storytelling events. Visit the museum stores, the library and stop by for a bite to eat at the café or cafeteria. Special events, shows, fairs and changing exhibitions enhance the visit. Don’t miss the Yuletide decorations!

Check the website or call for tickets, hours and days of operation.

The Wharton Esherick Studio

Wharton Esherick (1887-1970) was among the vanguard of artists who created an American sculpture style early in the 20th century. Working primarily in wood, he extended his sculptural forms to furniture, furnishings and interiors. Considered to be the most influential designer of the century and know as the “Dean of American Craftsmen”, his works are now in major American museums as well as private collections.

The Studio, which took Esherick 40 years to build, reflects the artist’s changing styles from organic to expressionist to the lyrical free forms for which he is best known. The building, its contents and grounds have been preserved much as they were when he lived and worked there. On exhibition are more than 200 of his works – paintings, woodcuts, sculpture, furniture – produced between 1920 and 1970. Pieces are displayed without cases and can be touched and examined closely.

The Wharton Esherick Studio is a National Historic Landmark for Architecture. Admission is charged and the Studio is presented through one hour guided tours for which reservations are required. Groups only are received Monday to Friday. Visitors are requested to wear low-heeled shoes to protect the Studio’s floors. Call to check hours and days of operation.

The Mill at Anselma Preservation and Educational Trust, Inc.

Experience America’s rich industrial and agricultural past as you step inside the Mill at Anselma. Every gear, tool and barrel tells a story of how Anselma’s millers and their families lived and worked over the centuries. You can almost hear the conversations between miller and farmer as they dropped off bushels of wheat to be milled into flour.

Today, the Mill at Anselma is a National Historic Landmark as a testament to early American industrial ingenuity. The Mill is an extraordinary example of a custom water-powered grist mill which milled flour for its local community. Its wooden power train is completely intact and functions as it did when the mill was first built c. 1747. It has operated during three centuries.

Today, the Mill at Anselma inspires people in creative ways to discover its authentic technology and importance to the community through tours, milling demonstrations and its stone ground flour. Flour-milling demonstrations feature hands-on family fun helping to sift freshly ground flour and exploring the power of the water wheel. Flour and corn meal can be purchased in the gift shop.

Admission is charged. The mill is open from April through the end of November. Call for hours of operation and the milling schedule.

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.

Kennett Underground Railroad Center at the History Station

The Kennett Underground Railroad Center (KURC) examines the role of Kennett area individuals – both black and white – in the Underground Railroad during the years leading up to the Civil War.

With its focus on an extraordinary aspect of regional history, KURC is truly a community endeavor. Put together by an all-volunteer, grassroots organization – a group of people who recognized the richness of this aspect of local history – the exhibit’s goals are simple: to highlight the brave travelers and conductors on southern Chester County’s Underground Railroad. It is the remarkable courage and determination of local citizens that allowed slaves to journey to freedom in the north.

Much work continues to be done to tell the full story of the local Underground Railroad, but here you will find a wealth of information about this unique period of America’s history.

Call for site visit information.

Hagley Museum

Located on 235 acres along the banks of the Brandywine River, Hagley is the site of the gunpowder works founded by E. I. du Pont in 1802. This example of early American industry includes restored mills, a workers’ hill, and the ancestral home and gardens of the du Pont family.

You will see exhibits and dioramas that document the Brandywine Valley’s early eras, look at the role of explosives in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century life, and provide an interactive tour of the DuPont Company’s history. A tour of the Powder Yard offers an in-depth look at the making of gunpowder. A restored machine shop brings you into the din of old metal-working tools operating with shirring belts and grinding wheels. Machinists explain what they do while they work. Workers’ Hill focuses on the social and family history of the workers who operated the powder mill. Costumed workers show what home life was like and a charming schoolhouse is part of the picture.

A highlight of the tour is the first du Pont family home built in America in a charming Georgian-style residence furnished with antiques, artwork and memorabilia from five generations of family. The Restored Garden is planted with flowers, herbs and vegetables in a traditional French style. The First Office of the DuPont Company is also located here with artifacts from the company’s earliest presidents.

The museum is open mid-March through December daily 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Winter hours are January through mid-March open weekends 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Guided tours on weekdays at 1:30 p.m. Admission fee. The Berlin House Restaurant serves lunch and snacks from mid-March through November.

Brandywine River Museum

The Brandywine River Museum is home to one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of works by N. C., Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth, three generations of artists who embody the family’s distinctive artistic legacy. Many familiar works, and many rarely on public view, are seen in regularly changing exhibitions. American illustration has deep roots in the Brandywine Valley, where Howard Pyle worked and taught such artists as N. C. Wyeth and Harvey Dunn. The artistic heritage also includes works by William Trost Richards, Jasper Cropsey, George Cope, William Michael Harnett, John F. Peto and many others.

Artistic works are exhibited in a Civil-war era gristmill converted into an outstanding art museum. The museum offers exceptional facilities and programs to enhance the visitor’s experience. The Restaurant, in a glass tower overlooking the Brandywine River, offers lunch and refreshments. The Museum Shop is known for its fine selection of books, posters, and reproductions and gifts. Outdoors, wild flower gardens – featuring plants native to the Brandywine Valley – surround the museum in glorious color from spring through autumn. Tours to the N. C. Wyeth House and Studio and the Kuerner Farm are also available. The museum is operated by the Brandywine Conservancy.

American Helicopter Museum & Education Center

Visit the home of America’s largest collection of helicopters. It is a one-of-a-kind experience. A great place for families, kids can climb aboard helicopters of all kinds for a truly unique hands-on experience. The museum’s display of over 40 civilian and military helicopters, autogiros and convertaplanes fascinates visitors of all ages. This is a museum of unique science and technology of rotary wing aviation with two of today’s three major helicopter manufacturers tracing their roots to the greater Philadelphia area.

The Museum features many of the earliest rotary aircraft including the prototype for the first mass-produced helicopter and the second successful helicopter to fly in the United States.

Appropriately, the Museum is located in suburban Philadelphia, where much of the earliest development of helicopters in the United States was centered. With its continually growing collection of documents, artifacts, films and memoirs, the Museum’s research library serves the nation as its single public source of rotary wing information.

Located just outside of West Chester, Pennsylvania, we are easily accessible from major routes. Call for additional information or to arrange to bring your group for a customized tour. Open Wednesday – Sunday.