Historically yours: Germantown is alive with history

Cliveden, central to the Battle of Germantown, has been a museum for decades. A new approach will make clearer the role of slaves in the Chew family's prosperity. (JONATHAN WILSON / File Photograph)

I have a secret to share with you. If you are looking for some historical fun this weekend, Germantown is the place to be. Our city has many hidden gems in this section of the city that have played key roles in our nation’s history all the way back to colonial times. As part of their Second Saturday series that runs through October, 16 historic sites in Germantown will be open to the public from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 12.

Take a step back into another world at Cliveden, Wyck Historical House & Gardens, Stenton, Johnson House, the Grumblethorpe estate, Historic Fair Hill and many other historical mansions and museums. Cliveden, also known as The Chew House, was the home of Benjamin Chew in the 18th century and except for a small period from 1779 to 1797, it stayed in the family for seven generations. Wyck Historical House & Gardens was the ancestral home of the Wistar-Haines , a well-connected Quaker family. Stenton is the oldest historic house in Philadelphia built and owned by James Logan, Secretary to Pennsylvania founder William Penn. The Grumblethorpe Estate also owned by the Wister family was occupied by the British during the War for Independence, while The Johnson House played an integral role during Civil War time as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Here's more information about the other sites.

On Saturday, you are free to pick and choose individual sites (regular admission fees and donations apply) to visit or you can purchase the Historic Germantown Passport and see them all. You don't have to do it all in one day though, that would be exhausting! The passport which costs $15 per person and $25 a family allows you one visit to each of the 16 landmarks and you have a year to complete your tour.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you include Cliveden, the Wyck Historical House & Garden and Fair Hill Burial Ground on your list of stops on Saturday. The Wyck Historic House is hosting a Behind the Fence Festival which will offer history and community themed programs between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., you can then bring the kids for family fun to the Community Summer Festival at Historic Fair Hill. Pony rides, a DJ, barbecue and games will entertain everyone for hours.

If you are looking to jazz up your night, Cliveden is hosting Gtown Jazz on the Ave with Bebashi Fundraising for Healthy Awareness from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Featured performers will include the Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble and various Philadelphia jazz artists, along with spoken word poet Krissy Mosley.

How many times have you driven past these landmarks without realizing their significance? Don’t miss your chance to get to really know Historic Germantown.