The original mill was destroyed by a flood around 1701. A second mill, Homestead and Bake House quickly followed. For the next 200 years, while eight generations of Rittenhouse family members continued to live and work all along Paper Mill Run and Wissahickon Creek, the focus of the community remained this intimate cluster of buildings enclosing both public and private space.
From the early 18th century, Rittenhouse Street linked the early settlement at Germantown with Rittenhouse Town and brought a constant stream of people, horses and wagons into the community past the Homestead on their way to the mill. Weavers transformed flax grown in Germantown into linen textiles and when the fabric was reduced to rags it was brought to RittenhouseTown to be made into paper. Paper produced at the Rittenhouse mill was sold to printers in nearby Germantown, Philadelphia and New York for use in Bibles and newspapers.
As the Rittenhouse family expanded, so did the village of Rittenhouse Town. In later years, the Baptist Chapel located just yards from the Homestead’s front door welcomed mill workers who lived in the tenement building directly across Rittenhouse Street.
By the mid 19th century, over 40 buildings populated this busy self-contained industrial village, including numerous residences for family members and mill workers, several mills producing paper, textiles, rugs, and blankets or grinding grain, a school, firehouse, general store and smithy.
Until the construction of the Walnut Lane Bridge in 1908, Rittenhouse Street continued to be one of only a few routes linking Germantown with Roxborough, Manayunk and the Schuylkill River.