John Roberts House
Old Gulph Road, Gladwyne
The John Roberts House was likely begun ca. 1690 when the first John Roberts, a Welsh Quaker miller, married. In 1682, Roberts had been granted over 300 acres in the “Welsh Tract” by William Penn. Roberts probably first lived in a log cabin while he built his first mill in what is now Lower Merion Township property. A fragment of a later (ca 1746) mill stands near the waterfall which had attracted Roberts to the site.
The original house was a typical 1-1/2 story stone building, probably one room with a loft. Nearby were a springhouse and a forge, a portion of which can be seen in the present kitchen. An addition or renovation to the forge was possibly made later.
Although his father, John Roberts II, died before he was born, John Roberts III became very prosperous, adding mills and acreage to the original holding. It was he who added the fine 3-1/2 story Welsh-Georgian section with its high ceilings and large windows in 1752. Pent eaves encircled it; a balcony sheltered the front door. The residence and the forge building were joined ca 1905, creating the present dwelling. John Roberts III was hanged, unjustly it seems, for treason in 1778.