Our official event charity is Cliveden of the National Trust, Inc., a historic site whose mission is to help people understand our shared history and motivate them to preserve it by providing access to the rich continuity of history and preservation in one community and family over time, and by offering direction and knowledge about preserving our built heritage and its value. Cliveden’s fulfills it mission include heritage education, community leadership, and preservation action.
walls of Cliveden
sheltered British troops from American attack during the Battle of Germantown,
as well as seven generations of Philadelphia’s Chew family in
the years that followed. Today, Cliveden is a National
Trust Historic Site, open to the public for tours April through
December. Concerts, lectures and workshops, annual celebrations and
special events make Cliveden a vital member of Philadelphia’s
Neighborhood (Freedom’s Backyard). Cliveden tells a story
of America’s continuing struggle for freedom.
History of Cliveden
Chew built Cliveden as a summer home in the 1760s to escape Philadelphia’s
summer heat and disease, he was one of the first English-speaking residents
in the small community of Germantown.
Chew and his family were among the wealthiest Philadelphians of the
colonial period, but Chew’s wealth came from his British connections.
As an attorney he represented the interests of the governing Penn family,
and King George appointed him Chief Justice of the Colony of Pennsylvania.
When the Revolutionary War began, Chew’s loyalties were immediately
British army marched through Germantown on its way to Philadelphia in
late September of 1777. Cliveden was empty at the time, and Benjamin
Chew was under house arrest in New Jersey to keep him out of trouble.
On the morning of October 4th, British infantry troops, alerted to an
attack by Washington’s American army, broke into the house to
use it as a stronghold. The British managed to hold off Washington’s
troops for several hours, allowing time for reinforcements to arrive
from the city, forcing the Continental Army into full retreat. You can
still see scars from the 1777
Battle of Germantown at Cliveden, where 75 Americans lost their
lives trying unsuccessfully to capture the house.
Chew sold his battle-damaged house after the war, but bought it back
again near the end of his life. Chews continued to live at Cliveden
until 1972, when they donated the property to the National Trust for
Historic Preservation. Today, Cliveden is a historic house museum, one
of a group of nationally significant sites owned by the National Trust.
Cliveden is open to the public for tours from April through December,
Thursdays through Sundays 12:00 to 4:00 PM. Admission is $8.00 per person
for adults, free to members of the National Trust.