10 Pennsylvania buildings that are older than the state itself

Boelson Cottage

Photo by Brian W. Schaller courtesy of CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

By Kalena Thomhave

May 31, 2024

These Pennsylvania taverns, inns, and houses are all hundreds of years old even older than the U.S. Constitution.

Considering that Pennsylvania is where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed, there are many buildings in the state that were built long before Pennsylvania even became a state. By the way, in case you need a refresher on U.S. history, Pa. officially became a state when it ratified the Constitution in 1787.

Lower Swedish Cabin, circa 1640 – Upper Darby

The oldest building that’s still standing in Pennsylvania was built sometime between 1630 and 1650, nearly 400 years ago. It is also one of the oldest — and possibly the oldest — log cabin in the United States.

The Lower Swedish Cabin in what is now Delaware County was one of the last cabins built by Swedish settlers in North America. The house’s durable craftsmanship, which relied on local trees, has allowed it to remain standing, mostly unaltered, over the centuries.

You can visit the cabin in its original location along Darby Creek in the Drexel Hill section of Upper Darby. Tours are available on Sundays between April and October.

10 Pennsylvania buildings that are older than the state itself

Photo courtesy of Smallbones.

Boelson Cottage, circa 1678 – Philadelphia

The construction of Boelson Cottage may have occurred as early as 1678, which means the cottage is likely the oldest building in Philadelphia. While Boelson Cottage isn’t open to the public, you can still view the building from the outside since it is located in public Fairmount Park.

Rittenhouse Homestead, 1707

Historic Rittenhouse Town in Fairmount Park is what remains of an early paper mill community originally founded by the Rittenhouse family. There are six colonial buildings still standing, though at the height of the 18th century, the bustling area was home to more than 40 buildings.

The oldest extant building at the site is the Rittenhouse Homestead, built in 1707 to house generations of the Rittenhouse family. The homestead has been restored to what it would have looked like in 1707 and is the centerpiece of Historic Rittenhouse Town. It’s across from the paper mill, built even earlier (around 1702), and near the bakehouse (built around 1753), which features a working period oven.

The buildings of Historic Rittenhouse Town are open every day from dawn until dusk, with a number of community events happening on the grounds throughout the year. Tours are available by appointment and cost $15 per person with a three-person minimum.

10 Pennsylvania buildings that are older than the state itself

Photo by Arwilson1128 courtesy of CC BY-SA 4.0.

Herr House, 1719 – Lancaster

After visiting the Herr House in Lancaster County, you’ll easily remember what year it was built, as its museum is known as the 1719 Museum. The early 18th century structure, which served as a Mennonite meeting house, was built with nearby sandstone. The 1719 Museum also includes other historic buildings used by early settlers, such as a blacksmith shop and outdoor bake oven, as well as a replica of a longhouse built by Eastern Woodland indigenous peoples during the period.

The 1719 Museum is open on Fridays and Saturdays between April and October. Admission is $15 for adults and $7 for children ages 7 and older. Children ages 6 and younger are free.

10 Pennsylvania buildings that are older than the state itself

Photo courtesy of Discover Lancaster.

Court Inn (Half-moon Inn), 1733 – Newtown

Newtown’s Court Inn is among the oldest buildings in Bucks County. It was originally built in 1733 to serve as a tavern and was then known as the Half-moon Inn. Today, the building has been restored with 18th-century furnishings and décor and showcases Newtown’s history. It also serves as the headquarters and workspace for the Newtown Historic Association.

10 Pennsylvania buildings that are older than the state itself

Photo by By Shuvaev courtesy of CC BY-SA 3.0.

Widow Piper’s Tavern, circa 1735 – Shippensburg

One of the oldest structures west of the Susquehanna River, the Widow Piper’s Tavern in Shippensburg is a stone building constructed around 1735; a woman called Widow Piper established a tavern there by at least 1740. She also provided lodging for travelers. In 1750 and 1751, Piper allowed the building to be used as Cumberland County’s courthouse until a courthouse was built in the county seat, Carlisle.

Today, the Shippensburg Civic Club uses the old tavern as its headquarters. The club is also responsible for maintaining the garden surrounding the building, which is open to the public.

King George II Inn, 1735 – Bristol

The King George II Inn is one of the oldest continuously operating inns in the U.S., if not the oldest. The original inn was built in 1681 to serve as a ferry house — it lodged people who were traveling across the Delaware River. Following a fire in 1735, the inn was rebuilt on a larger scale.

Today, the King George II doesn’t offer lodging, but it does offer exceptional food and drink. You can visit the restaurant to enjoy a historical ambiance alongside upscale American food.

Fort Pitt Blockhouse, 1764 – Pittsburgh

The oldest structure still standing on the western side of Pennsylvania is an old blockhouse — a small building used for military defense. The Fort Pitt Blockhouse is all that’s left of Fort Pitt, the elaborate British fort built at the confluence of Pittsburgh’s three rivers after the French and Indian War.

Today, you can visit the blockhouse within Pittsburgh’s Point State Park, which is also home to the Fort Pitt Museum, located just yards from the blockhouse.

10 Pennsylvania buildings that are older than the state itself

Photo by Warren LeMay courtesy of CC BY-SA 2.0.

Tripp House, 1778 – Scranton

The Tripp House, built in 1778, is the oldest house still standing in Scranton, and the oldest in Lackawanna County. Isaac Tripp was the first settler in Lackawanna County; his son built the now-centuries-old Tripp House. Generations of the Tripp family lived in the large and stately home until around 1900.

Today, the Tripp House, which is regularly rented out for parties and events, has been restored to resemble how it looked in 1812 and is decorated with Victorian décor.

The Oldest House, 1780 – Laceyville

The dwelling known as the Oldest House may not be the oldest house in Pennsylvania, but it is certainly one of the oldest in the state. Located in Wyoming County within the Endless Mountains, the Oldest House was built on the Susquehanna River as early as 1780.

The Laceyville Area Historical Society operates the house as a museum of regional and Laceyville history, holding seasonal tours and special events. You can visit the Oldest House on weekends between May and September.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.King George Inn & 9 more of Pennsylvania's oldest buildingsKing George Inn & 9 more of Pennsylvania's oldest buildings

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CATEGORIES: LOCAL HISTORY
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