This district is associated with Rebecca Lukens (1794-1854), who played a leading role in the 19th-century American iron industry, and her family legacy. The firm she owned and managed--Brandywine Ironworks (later Lukens Steel Company)--was one of the industry's major firms in the decades before the Civil War. She was the only woman in the antebellum period to head a heavy industry that had interstate and international interests. Lukens prefigures a pattern which would become more common in the late 19th and early 20th century, in which family business gave women entry to management or ownership of large concerns. Rebecca Lukens served as matriarch of this industrial dynasty; her family continued her commitment of fairness to workers, innovative technology, and personal interest in fine architecture.