The ca. 1845 Enoch Rittenhouse Home at RittenhouseTown is a small but architecturally important Greek Revival structure. Built between 1840 and 1850, the building boasts unusually ornate interior moldings and trim that belie its seemingly simple exterior.
The history of the Enoch Rittenhouse Home mirrors the history of the early industrial village nestled in the valley of the Paper Mill Run known since the early 18th century as RittenhouseTown. While no document survives proving who lived in the Enoch Rittenhouse Home at the time it was built in ca. 1845, Charles Benner Rittenhouse, son of Isaac, and Charles’ wife, Matilda Purdy, presumably lived in the Enoch Rittenhouse Home for some time. Their children, Isaac, William, George, twins Lizzie and Ella, and Thomas were all born in the building between 1864 and 1876. Charles died in 1891 and in 1892, Matilda and some of her family including her youngest child, Thomas Purdy Rittenhouse, moved away from RittenhouseTown and settled on Kingsley Street in nearby Blue Bell Hill. In that same year, 1892, Matilda’s daughter, Lizzie married William Charles Schulz and moved to Roxborough. William and Lizzie’s child, Ella Rittenhouse Schulz, who was named after Lizzie’s twin sister, Ella, married Siebert Cohen. Their daughter is Jane Elizabeth Cohen. Thomas Purdy Rittenhouse, son of Charles and Matilda, married Ida Wilhelm. Their son, Albert Wilhelm Rittenhouse married Irma Farrow and their daughters are Christine Rittenhouse Russell and Alice Rittenhouse Miller. Thomas Purdy Rittenhouse and Ida Wilhelm Rittenhouse’s son, Thomas Purdy Rittenhouse, Jr. married Irma Farrow’s sister, Eva, & their daughter is Carol Rittenhouse Diehl and her brother, Thomas Purdy Rittenhouse III.
The family of Charles Benner Rittenhouse and Matilda Purdy were the last of the Rittenhouse families to leave the village. A series of real estate transactions transferred this property and others in the village to the City of Philadelphia and the land and buildings were incorporated into Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. The Enoch Rittenhouse Home and others served as residences for City employees until Friends of Historic RittenhouseTown stepped in to preserve and protect the surviving five Rittenhouse structures beginning in 1984. The Enoch Rittenhouse Home was carefully restored in 2003 by Friends of Historic RittenhouseTown.
Due to the generosity of the Jane Elizabeth Cohen Foundation, we have recently been able to relocate the Historic RittenhouseTown Visitor Center, Administrative Offices and Gift Shop to the Enoch Rittenhouse Home. As part of this work, we have recreated the Front Parlor to look as it might have in the late 1800’s.
The Parlor is dedicated to Jane’s mother, Ella Rittenhouse Cohen and her grandmother, Elizabeth Rittenhouse Schultz. The room will serve as a repository for artifacts donated by members of the Rittenhouse family. This spring we will restore the exterior of the structure with the Foundation’s support.
The Enoch Rittenhouse Home houses Historic RittenhouseTown's Visitor Center, gift shop and Administrative Offices as well as a restored ca. 1850 Parlor. Nearly 1,000 school age children visit each year. They make paper using the same tools and techniques as the Rittenhouse family, prepare a colonial recipe in the ca. 1725 Bake House, tour the new David Rittenhouse Exhibit and learn what life was like for children living in the village in the 18th century.