The history of
the old mill
Rose Valley was included in land grants by William Penn in 1681 to three Vernon brothers - Thomas, Robert and Randal - while they were still in England. They all arrived here the following year. Robert's grant was confirmed by patent in 1684, Thomas's in 1702 and Randal's in 1711. The three brothers' lands were contiguous, and each had considerable frontage on the east side of Ridley Creek. Robert Vernon's home is thought to be the three-story stone house on Old Mill Lane, now known as the Bishop White House, getting that name from William White who sent his family here from Philadelphia during an epidemic of yellow fever in 1793. This house is currently a private residence that you see as you wind your way toward the Old Mill.
The power of Ridley Creek was harnessed in 1789 when Nicholas Stimmel built his snuff mill where the Old Mill now stands. After snuff went out of fashion, the mill was used to grind bark to make fever medicine and then converted to a paper mill. The mill stood unused and deserted for a decade until Antrim Osborne bought it in 1861 to manufacture woolens. To provide housing for his many workers, Osborne built twelve six-room houses, six in a continuous row on the east side of Rose Valley Road just outside the Old Mill, and three double houses across the street. The houses were completed in 1870 and they still stand. At the peak of his wool business, in 1879, Osborne bought Hutton's mill, now Hedgerow Theatre located across the street. Osborne died in 1890.
The era that makes Rose Valley unique among the Philadelphia suburbs is that of the Arts and Crafts movement. Generally defined as the English revival of decorative arts, it was one aspect of a many-sided reaction against the Industrial Revolution and the diminished role of the craftsman in the production of goods. You will notice many of these Arts & Crafts details inside the mill and adjoining buildings. Today, the Historic Old Mill at Rose Valley is on the national registry of historic sites and we are proud to offer a beautiful, serene setting for life's most wonderful events.
- Information courtesy of The Rose Valley Borough Historic Society