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The Paper Mill House and Museum is a historic three story stone building along Darby Creek in Newtown Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania that contains an 1850’s era general store, and three levels of a local history museum containing artifacts representing the history of Newtown Township. The original building was constructed in 1828 to house four families that worked at the local mills along the Darby Creek. An addition was built in 1845 to contain a general store that served the community that grew up around the mills. In the immediate area of the site were the William Crosley Woolen Mill (1828-1861) and Casper S. Garrett’s Union Paper Mill (1869-1889). The building overlooks the creek and a stone bridge that carries St. David’s Road over the creek. A modern wooden pedestrian bridge over the creek connects the building to the parking area for the site. Along the creek in the area are archeological remains of both old mills, including building foundations, the millrace, and other traces of the mill activity. The site was recognized as historically significant in 2002 when it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The structure stood in ruins in the early 1980’s, without a roof, without a use, and destined for demolition. However, the history of the building and the site was recognized by a small handful of civic minded Newtown residents, Stan Short, Jim Crossan, and Sid and Jan Elston, and through their efforts and those of many other volunteers, the building was acquired by the Township, and then enclosed to protect it from the elements. Over the last 25 years, the Building has been restored, inside and out, and now houses a recreated general store from the mid-19th century, and a museum containing artifacts collected and donated by Newtown residents that represent some of the history of the Township and its people. The community efforts to restore the Paper Mill House led to the formation of the Newtown Square Historical Preservation Society, and the Society and Newtown Township now maintain the property through a cooperative effort that has made the Paper Mill House a center for educational activity.
The Paper Mill House serves as a museum for local history, and a meeting place for local neighborhood groups. Each year, the six elementary schools in the local school district send their 5th graders to the Paper Mill House for a half day of instruction on local history and mills. The program, operated by the Historical Society, also brings together the home schooled children in the community who act as guides in period dress, perform skits, and bring to life the history lessons taught that day.
The Society is embarking on the next phase in the preservation of the building and the site, by identifying additional improvements that need to be made to provide better public access to the building, and to begin the process of uncovering the remnants of the various mills that existed along the creek, cataloging and preserving what is found, and then creating an outside “museum” that explains and interprets the history of the site to the visitor.
The Paper Mill House Museum is open Saturdays in July and August from 1 – 4PM.
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