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The 4th Celebration Includes Historic Germantown Tour

July 7, 2009

the 4th of July festivities around Philadelphia included the usual block parties, ice cream festival, concerts and many firework displays.

UBG Grave w flag 4th of Jul 09 010Meanwhile, Historic Germantown neighbors gathered to visit historic sites from the revolutionary era where guided tours were offered, the Concord School House bell was rung, and graves of soldiers were adorned with flags.

The Upper and Lower Burial Grounds were created by deed in 1692 as public, non-denominational burial grounds for the people of Germantown. Both Burial Grounds currently have Boards who are working to preserve these sites and their records.

Upper Burial Ground 4th of Jul 09 001

Upper Burial Ground

The Upper Burial Ground on the 6300 block of Germantown Ave sits behind a wall which was completed in 1774. Three officers of the Continental Army and five privates killed in fighting at the Battle of Germantown are buried there.

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Colonel William Hood Balustrade

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Lower Burial Ground aka The Hood Cemetery

The Lower Burial Ground is located at 4901 Germantown Ave was renamed the Hood Museum for Colonel William Hood had the ornate marble balustrade build at the front gate in 1850. There are 86 soldiers buried here who lost their lives on account of wars including the war for Independence, the War of 1812, Riots of 1844, Mexican War of 1847, and the Civil War of 1861-65.  The Awbury Arboretum recently took over the task of maintaining the ground and trimming the trees at this lovely site.

Cliveden, a National Historic Trust house at 6401 Germantown Ave, was built in 1767 as the country house of Benjamin Chew. British troops took over the house in 1777.  In October of that year, at the Battle of Germantown, British troops fell back to the house which they held, withstanding cannon fire, and defeating the assault of George Washington’s army.

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The Johnson House

The Johnson House at 6300 Germantown Ave, built in 1768 for a Quaker family who owned and maintained the house through 3 generations. It became a site on the Underground Railway in the 19th century. On Independence Day the Johnson House hosted a performance by reinactor, Kathy Simpson, who portrays, Oney Judge, famed slave of Martha Washington, who escaped slavery during the Washington administration’s stay in Philadelphia.

Kathy Simpson as Oney Judge

Kathy Simpson as Oney Judge

Across the street, Concord School, built in 1775, commemorated the 4th with the ringing of the school house bell. The Concord School is situated next to the Upper Burial Ground and it is believed to be on land deeded for the cemetery which was set aside for the school. This school house was the 1st school in Germantown offering education in English.

The Concord School House

The Concord School House

Several additional historic sites and markers are located along Germantown Ave between Cliveden and the Lower Burial Ground, among them the Wyck the home of or 9 generations of a Quaker family, who hosted General Lafayette when he returned to visit the newly independent nation, the Deshler-House which served as the summer ‘White House’ for President Washington.

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