Mill Creek Road, Gladwyne
The cedar-roofed, wood-sided “1690 House” is named for the date painted under the eave on the side of the building, placed there in the 19th century to honor the house’s age. However, it more likely dates to 1684, when Quaker miller John Roberts probably built it as his first, temporary residence in the New World. The section of log cabin he constructed, still very visible inside the house, is the 1684 portion, making this one of the very first residences ever built in Lower Merion — and thus one of the most important and most historic.
In 1683, John Roberts arrived in America to help establish the “Welsh Barony,” a name for the intended colony of Quakers from Wales. The group arrived in late fall, and within months of his arrival, Roberts built Wain, his name for the stone mill building erected among Mill Creek upstream from that intersection. Here he began his career as an American miller. It is believed that in early 1684, Roberts raised the log cabin now called the 1690 House. So not only is this house important, but so is the road, as Old Gulph Road is the connection between Wain and the Gulph Mill near Hanging Rock. This road is one of Lower Merion’s first cartways, used by farmers to take their crops to one of the two mills.