A Walking Tour of Newtown, Pennsylvania
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. This walking tour of Newtown, Pennsylvania is ready to explore when you are. Each walking tour describes historical, architectural landmarks, cultural sites and ecclesiastic touchstones and provides step-by-step directions. More
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. Whether you are preparing for a road trip or just out to look at your own town in a new way, a downloadable walking tour is ready to explore when you are.
Each walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to help out when those pesky street addresses are missing. Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.
When William Penn was granted all the land west of New Jersey, north of Maryland and south of New York by King Charles II as payment of a debt owed his father, he had big plans for his vast new empire. One was to establish several towns around Philadelphia to provide country homes for city residents and to support farming communities. So, the story goes that he traveled north from his “great town” in 1682 and stopped in the middle of some trees that bordered a creek flowing to the Delaware River to proclaim, “This is where I propose to build my ‘new town.’ “
Straddling what is now called Newtown Creek, the site included 640 acres. In time, the name was shortened to Newtown. Penn’s plan included 16 farm plots that fanned out from a common in the middle of 30-40 acres. Each farm lot was connected to the common by a townstead lot so settlers could be integrally connected to the going-on in town.
The small village became the Bucks County seat of government in 1725 and many substantial Colonial residences and taverns followed. Its central location made it an important supply depot during the American Revolution and General George Washington made his headquarters in Newtown from December 24-30, 1776. From this location, Washington marched his army into American legend on Christmas Eve to cross the Delaware and surprise a Hessian army in Trenton.
The county government left for Doylestown in 1813 and Newtown settled into a residential existence. Gradually the heritage farms gave way to houses and the borough was enlarged four times beginning in 1838. All the while the core of town in Penn’s original common resisted the overtures of modernization. The Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places with many of its buildings well into their third century of use.
Our walking tour of the Colonial shops and taverns and houses will begin at a relative newcomer to Newtown - the Friends Meetinghouse. Oddly for a town founded by William Penn it didn’t get it own meetinghouse for 130 years. Local Quakers were instead members of the Falls or Middletown or Wrightstown Meetings, forced to travel considerable distances to worship...