Toddtown tenement house in Rolling Hill Park
Toddtown Tenement House
Rolling Hill Park, Gladwyne, PA
In 1849, Henry Deringer, Philadelphia’s well-known gun manufacturer, sold Bicking’s paper mill to William H. Todd. Todd converted the mill to cotton yarn production and added numerous buildings to the site. The mill’s growing workforce was housed in two nearby, stone tenement buildings. As production grew and the company prospered, the area became known as Toddtown. In the 1880s, Todd was forced to sell at a sheriff’s sale. The mill changed owners several times and was eventually demolished in the early part of the 20th century.
Today, all that remains of the Bicking’s Mill and Toddtown is the stone skeleton of a three-story millworker’s house. Known as the Toddtown Tenement, it is found near a popular hiking trail in Lower Merion Township’s 103-acre Rolling Hill Park. The building ruins are protected as a contributing historic resource to the Mill Creek National Historic District and they are designated as a Class 1 historic resource. Despite this designation, the Toddtown Tenement is in dire need of stabilization to secure in- place its stone walls, window and door openings, and overall historic form.
A similar stabilization was done approximately ten years ago at the nearby Barker Mill tenement buildings. The Toddtown and Barker Mill Tenement ruins are actively used by Lower Merion Conservancy as outdoor classrooms for teaching local school children about the complex history of Lower Merion’s milling, industrial, and agricultural past. As physical evidence of Lower Merion’s milling history continues to incrementally disappear from the landscape, the Toddtown Tenement plays an important role in telling our local history.