Pennsylvania’s Historic Homesteads & Museums

Pennsylvania has no shortage of famous historic sites. Here are just a few suggestions for those who want to dig even deeper into the state’s rich past with tours of historic homes, fascinating museums, and unique historic locations dedicated to the stories of yore.
Featured Trip Ideas
Greys Towers in Milford
Tour the exquisite 1880s home of Gifford Pinchot – the former governor of Pennsylvania and first chief of the U.S. Forest Service – at Grey Towers in Milford.

Historic Home Tours in Pennsylvania

Grey Towers National Historic Site in Milford encompasses the mansion and gardens of the nation’s first chief forester, Gifford Pinchot. Tour landscape and forestry trails as well as the impressive mansion.

Visitors can experience colonial life at Pennsbury Manor in Morrisville, the reconstructed home of state founder William Penn along the Delaware River, through demonstrations of daily life as it existed 300 years ago. 

Built in 1816, Drake Log Cabin is the oldest building in Apollo and one of the few remaining log structures in Armstrong County. Tours are available by appointment.

Guided tours and educational programs are available at the Pearl S. Buck House, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s 68-acre estate in Perkasie.

The Shriver House Museum in Gettysburg offers a glimpse into the area’s famous battle through the eyes of a family who lived through the event. View bullet holes in the exterior walls, letters written by the Shriver family, and wartime medical supplies.

The home furnishings, portraits, tools, and weapons of the Boal clan – an influential American family with connections to Christopher Columbus – are on display at the Boal Mansion in Boalsburg.

The former home of Colonel Clarence G. Jackson, the Jackson Mansion in Berwick offers a peek into the lives of an affluent family in the late 1870s. The restored manor now houses the Berwick Historical Society.

Birdsboro is the site of the Daniel Boone Homestead, where visitors can see what rural life was like for 18th-century Berks County residents (including its most famous one!). Experts interpret both the early Boones and the saga of settlers’ contrasting lifestyles in rural Pennsylvania. 

Explore the oldest surviving house in Lancaster County and the oldest standing original Mennonite meetinghouse in the Western Hemisphere at the 1719 Hans Herr House in Willow Street, where you can also see a rare replica of a Native American longhouse.

History Museums

Visitors can tour the reconstructed and restored Fort Ligonier to see where George Washington’s military career began (including his actual saddle pistols), artifacts from the French and Indian and Seven Years’ wars and the parlor room of a 1700s estate.

Harold F. Pitcairn Wings of Freedom Aviation Museum in Willow Grove highlights aviation history in the Delaware Valley through aircraft displays and nearly 40 exhibits.

Highlights of the Eldred World War II Museum include a working submarine periscope, life-size bunkers, and mock battles visitors can command.

Admire a large collection of antique clubs and golf artifacts spanning nearly three centuries at the American Golf Hall of Fame at Foxburg Country Club. Foxburg Golf Course is the oldest continuously operating course in the U.S.

The Fort Pitt Block House is Pittsburgh’s oldest architectural landmark. Constructed 250 years ago, it served as a military redoubt during the French and Indian War, a trading post, a family home, and even a candy shop.

Korb House Museum in Curwensville, Grice Clearfield Community Museum in Clearfield, and Coalport Area Coal Museum in Coalport are just a few places to delve into Pennsylvania history in Clearfield County.

The Harmony Museum’s eight properties, which encompass 250 years of history, include a Mennonite meetinghouse and cemetery, interpretations of George Washington’s 1753 visit to the area, a collection of 19th-century sporting rifles, and the Harmony Museum's Weaver's Cabin.

At The U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center in Carlisle, visitors can test their marksmanship at a digital shooting range, parachute into Normandy during the D-Day invasion, and experience a Korean War night attack.

The Blairsville Underground Railroad Museum honors the enslaved men, women, and children who found the path to freedom through the Underground Railroad and the Blairsville residents who supported the cause. Special tours will be offered on June 15, 2016.

Historic Sites in Pennsylvania

Visitors can learn how America won its independence at Washington Crossing Historic Park. The visitor center’s exhibits tell the story of George Washington’s midnight crossing of the Delaware River and the 10 crucial days that followed.

The home and farm of General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his wife Mamie welcome history lovers to Gettysburg at the Eisenhower National Historic Site. Self-guided, audio, and ranger tours are available.

Twenty authentic historic sites make up Historic Moravian Bethlehem, a community founded in 1741 by members of a Protestant denomination. See a 1752 apothecary, drug store, and five-story log structure that served as a home, church, and school.

Train buffs can board a York County replica of the Civil War steam locomotive that carried Abraham Lincoln to deliver the Gettysburg Address at Steam Into History.

The ruins of the Austin Dam – which burst in 1911, engulfed the town of Austin and claimed 78 lives – still stand today. Amid the tragedy, a beautiful memorial park has emerged for hikers, picnickers, and campers.

Find out how 12,000 soldiers became united under the leadership of General George Washington at Valley Forge National Historical Park, the winter encampment of the Continental Army in 1777 and 1778.

The Priesthood Restoration Site and Visitors’ Center in Susquehanna County honors the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Significant sites include the reconstructed home of church founder Joseph Smith and his wife.

National Historic Districts

Established in 1741 by members of the Moravian Church, Bethlehem has six historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places. Stroll through the Central Bethlehem Historic District to see Moravian communal buildings adorned with 18th-century Germanic architectural elements and the stately homes of the many wealthy industrialists who transformed the city in the mid-1800s.

Most of the structures in the Midtown Harrisburg Historic District, Harrisburg’s first urbanized neighborhood, were built between 1860 and 1910 and exhibit a mix of architectural styles, including Federal, Italianate, and Romanesque.

The Huntingdon Historic District comprises more than 500 structures built between the late 18th century and the early 20th century. Notable buildings include the 1872 Union Depot and the eight-story 1889 Blair Building – once touted as the tallest building between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.  

A mixture of architectural styles can be spotted in New Castle’s North Hill Historic District, including Victorian, Queen Anne, and Tudor Revival. Don’t miss the 1924 Scottish Rite Cathedral and the 1917 Hoyt Center for the Arts.

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