6401 Germantown Ave., 215/848-1777
HOURS: Thurs.–Sun. noon–4 p.m. Apr.–Dec., and by appt. all year
COST: $8 adult, $6 student, 2-for-1 with AAA
Georgian-style Cliveden was built 1764–1767 as the summer home for Benjamin Chew. He sought relief from the summer heat in a slightly cooler area that was then a suburb. A marker at the corner of Cliveden Street and Germantown Avenue reads “6 to P,” meaning six miles to Philadelphia ; before railroad or automobiles, that was a significant journey.
One of the first English-speaking residents in the predominantly German neighborhood, Chew was an attorney who represented William Penn’s family. Appointed Chief Justice of the Colony of Pennsylvania by King George, he was often in opposition to Ben Franklin because of his British ties. He was naturally distrusted when the war began, and was moved to New Jersey and placed under house arrest.
This was lucky for him, since it meant he was absent during the bloody battle that took place on the grounds of his home, the Battle of Germantown.
In October 1777, British troops were passing through on their way to Philadelphia  when they got word of an impending attack by the Continental Army. They broke into Cliveden for protection and hid behind the thick stone walls for several hours while American troops fired muskets and cannons from Upsala across the street. Backup eventually arrived and the British ultimately won the battle.
After the war, Chew was accepted into American society and led a life of public service. He sold his devastated house but bought it back again near the end of his life. Descendants of his family lived in Cliveden until 1972, when it was donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Inside, you can see the family’s extraordinary collection of 18th- and 19th-century furnishings, decorative arts, and artifacts.
Upsala remains one of Germantown’s finest examples of classic federal architecture. John Johnson Jr., a descendant of Dirk Jansen, one of the area’s first settlers, built the home in 1798 on land that was in his family for four generations and lived here through the 19th century. In 1944, a group of Germantown citizens led by preservationist Frances Anne Wister raised money to purchase and restore Upsala. In 2004, the foundation merged with Cliveden, but Upsala is currently closed to the public.