Nitre Hall is a 19th-century building built shortly after 1800 on the banks of Cobbs Creeks by Israel Whelen. Years later, he established a partnership with William Rogers. They built the Nitre Hall Powder Mills when our nation had a growing need for explosives. During the War of 1812, the mill had an output of 800,000 pounds of explosives. Rogers and Whelen conducted the business jointly until Whelen died in 1825. The quantity and quality of black powder produced by Nitre Hall Mills was second in the United States to the Dupont Mills on the Brandywine. William Rogers ran the operation and was considered the powder master. Nitre Hall served as his home. According to the 1820 census, Nitre Hall employed 20 people. At its peak, this power mill included a number of buildings which included 2 stamping mills, dry house, press house, the powder master’s hosue, barrel mill, magazine, and 10 tenement houses for workers.
The powder mill closed in 1840. The property was bought by Dennis Kelly, who converted the buildings to the manufacture of textiles. These days, Nitre Hall is preserved as part of Powder Mill Valley Park. Nitre Hall remains the headquarters of the Haverford Township Historical Society and is located in Havertown, PA. It houses its reference library, archives, and also collections of artifacts and photographs relating to local history.
Nitre Hall is the only building that remains from the industrial era of the valley. In the 1980s, the ground level was converted into an apartment for the caretakers. Currently, there is no one living in Nitre Hall. Work has been done to restore this area to its original layout. On the second floor, the parlor is furnished with Empire style. The Historical Society Library is located across the hall. It contains reference books and materials on the history of Haverford Township. In the Historical Society Library, furnishings are Victorian. On the third floor, there are rooms that are used for exhibits. These rooms are changed from time to time. There is a room that is used for the Colonial Living Experience. This is a large room that is also used as a classroom.
Nitre Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nitre Hall is open to the public from May through October. In December, it is open for special events and by appointment. The building’s primary use currently is for school and group field trips. The historical society puts on a “day in the life” show for the township’s fifth graders.
Nitre Hall is located at 1682 Karakung Dr, Havertown, PA 19083.
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