Beginning in 1995, the Society has hosted annual field trips to the Paper Mill House and Museum for all elementary schools in the Marple Newtown school district. Every fourth grade class in the four public schools (Culbertson, Russell, Worrall, and Loomis) as well as St. Anastasia, spends a half day at the Paper Mill House. In 2005, 2nd graders from Delaware County Christian School began to participate in the annual program as well. In previous years, we have also invited home schoolers for a tour. Around 450 children visit the Paper Mill House and Museum every April.
As each group crosses the bridge from the parking lot, they are stepping into the past. Girls play “graces” (a hoop game) on the lawn, boys fish from the bridge and play marbles, while other guides chop wood, wash clothes, or plant the garden. The tours have four parts, so visitors are divided into groups and explore the house in rotation.
One section of the tour takes place on the main floor of the house. The children visit the general store, and may volunteer to help the storekeeper weigh produce and keep accounts. In the front room, they may view a “fashion show” of historical dress from different time periods, or watch a skit and learn about manners in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the parlor and bedroom, they learn more about daily life in Colonial times.
Upstairs, the students gather in the tool room and are invited to guess the purposes of the different tools on display, and to compare them with the power tools that serve the same purposes today. Then they explore the rest of the museum: sometimes guides teach about a particular collection, or the students are encouraged to look for items listed on an activity sheet. This coming year we’re planning a map activity focusing on historic places and events in the township.
Downstairs, the groups visit the old kitchen, where they learn about food preparation, colonial remedies, and the challenges of living without a microwave. Then they move to the meeting room, where they participate in many hands-on activities, including, churning butter, grinding grain, papermaking, doll making, weaving, writing with a quill, and outside, washing clothes, sawing logs, and preparing a garden bed. They also have a chance to taste fresh butter, cornbread and gingerbread.
After touring the Paper Mill House, the students come back over the foot bridge where they are taken on a short walking tour of the mill ruins that still located on the property.
NSHS School Tour Highlights