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Harriton House

Location: Bryn Mawr
Built: 1704

Harriton House was the home of Charles Thomson, Secretary of the Continental Congress and designer of the Great Seal of the United States. The area surrounding the house was the site of a minor skirmish in December 1777.


Harriton House was originally called Bryn Mawr when it was erected in 1704 by farmer Rowland Ellis. Ellis had already been farming the land, which he had acquired from William Penn in the 1680s, for 20 years before building his stately home. 

In 1719, the property was purchased by Richard Harrison, who changed the name of the property to Harriton and turned it into the northernmost tobacco plantation in the colonies. 

Harriton's most famous resident was Harrison's son-in-law, Charles Thomson. Thomson served as Secretary of the Continental Congress and is best known as the designer of the Great Seal of the United States. 

In December 1777, Bryn Mawr was the site of a skirmish between the rival armies. General James Potter was encamped at Harriton House when his troops engaged with a British raiding party led by General Charles Cornwallis. The Continental Army was marching toward Valley Forge, away from the fighting so Potter was forced to withdraw. Cornwallis opted not to pursue the fight and withdrew his men to Philadelphia. 

Today, Harriton House has been restored to reflect the Charles Thomson's years in the home. The house is surrounded by a spacious park with gardens and a stream. 

Visits are available daily Wednesday through Saturday, with advance notice requested. Admission is $6 for adults, free for students. 

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Annual Events

Beekeeping and Honey Festival



The annual Beekeeping and Honey Festival is a chance for a unique hands-on experiences. Adults and children are invited to try on beesuits, visit the hives and help extract the honey. Nature educators will also be on hand to provide special activities for children. Reservations are required for this event.

Plantation Fair



Harriton House's annual Plantation Fair celebrates 25 years in 2015. The event features many activities including craft and antique vendors, sheep herding demonstrations, pony rides for the kids, house tours, Revolutionary War reeneactors, live bluegrass music and more.