Cliveden (Benjamin Chew House)

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Cliveden Mansion, Philadelphia, HABS PA-1184-88.jpg
Location 6401 Germantown Avenue
Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Coordinates 40°2′46″N 75°10′56″W / 40.04611°N 75.18222°W / 40.04611; -75.18222Coordinates: 40°2′46″N 75°10′56″W / 40.04611°N 75.18222°W / 40.04611; -75.18222
Area 5.4 acres (2.2 ha)
Built 1763–1767
Built by Benjamin Chew
Architect William Peters
Architectural style Georgian colonial
Part of Colonial Germantown Historic District (#66000678)
NRHP reference # 66000677[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966
Designated NHL January 20, 1961
Designated NHLDCP June 23, 1965

Cliveden (/ˈklɪvdən/ KLIV-dən), also known as the Benjamin Chew House, is a historic mansion at 6401 Germantown Avenue in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of the Battle of Germantown, fought in 1777 during the American Revolutionary War.


Fighting during the Battle of Germantown

Built between 1763 and 1767 by Benjamin Chew, the mansion was inhabited from colonial times by seven generations of the Chew family, until 1972.[2] Chew was head of the Pennsylvania Judiciary System under both Colony and Commonwealth, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Province of Pennsylvania. From his legal mentor, Andrew Hamilton, he inherited Hamilton's lifelong clients, the descendants of William Penn.

For Chew's safety, the Executive Committee of the Continental Congress forcibly removed him and his family from Cliveden, as his close friend, George Washington, was ordering his troops to move towards Philadelphia. British Colonel Musgrave then quickly occupied the sturdily built mansion and fought off the attack from within with muskets and bayonets. Washington's army was repelled and driven back down Germantown Avenue in defeat.

In 1961, Cliveden was designated a National Historic Landmark, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. It is part of the Colonial Germantown Historic District.[3] The National Trust for Historic Preservation operates Cliveden as a historic house museum and offers tours from April through December. Significance:

Cliveden is an outstanding example of Philadelphia Georgian architecture. Probably designed by Chew and Jacob Knor, a master carpenter, the stone masonry house has particularly fine interior woodwork.

— Historic American Buildings Survey[4]


The original estate included a number of other structures, including a stable and coach house, a smoke house, hen house, and summer house. The landscaping features statuary and gardens with over 200 varieties of trees and scrubs. In 1868, a two-story addition was added in the original courtyard. A window on the second-floor stair landing in the main house was converted into a hidden doorway to create an entrance to the addition.

The Chew Family Papers, containing an extensive collection of correspondence, documents, financial records and other materials, are available for research use at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Marion, John Francis. Bicentennial City: Walking Tours of Historic Philadelphia. Princeton: The Pyne Press, 1974.
  3. ^ Jenkins, Charles F. The Guide Book to Historic Germantown. Germantown Historical Society, 1973.
  4. ^ Listing, drawings, and photographs at the Historic American Buildings Survey

External links[edit]