History brought to life

Must See Attractions

Enjoy true stories from Philadelphia’s past when you meet our History Makers and Storytellers.

Storytelling Benches in Historic Philadelphia

Returning Memorial Day Weekend

Settle into any of the six curved Storytelling Benches and hear some of our nation’s most intriguing behind-the-scenes stories. Trained, uniformed storytellers entertain and delight with free, 3 to 5 minute rarely heard stories. Stories of intrigue. Stories of bravery. Stories of lauded heroes and unsung everyday citizens who helped shape our American nation.

Visit all eight benches and you’ll receive a certificate and earn a special surprise in Franklin Square. Ask your Storyteller for a Storytelling Flag, have a star added at all eight Benches, and redeem for your surprise at Franklin Square.

Once Upon A Nation experiences are created in partnership with Independence National Historical Park

A Once Upon A Nation Storyteller engages a group at one of the curved storytelling benches near Independence Hall

Once Upon A Nation at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Guaranteed to educate and entertain, this one-of-a-kind Once Upon A Nation Storytelling Bench will take place at one of two locations in Valley Forge National Historical Park. Storytellers, trained at the Historic Philadelphia, Inc. Benstitute, share riveting stories of the encampment, and how it became a turning point in the Revolutionary War. Short, 3-to-5-minute stories are told for free at the signature 13-foot curved bench.

  • Visitor Center
  • Von Steuben Statue
A Storyteller holds a bell next to a Once Upon A Nation sign near the archway at Valley Forge Park

History Makers

Returning summer 2024

Don’t be surprised if you happen to meet William Penn roaming Philadelphia’s Historic District. Or the sailmaker James Forten. Or Susanna Cooke, a Colonial-era laundress. They are just a few of Historic Philadelphia Inc.’s History Makers, a sampling of the 18th century residents who have reappeared in 21st century Philadelphia. Chat with these costumed, trained historic interpreters, learn about their stories and snap some memory-making pictures.

A History Maker portraying a colonial-era soldier poses for the camera with a sword

Free Quaker Meeting House

Centuries after Betsy Ross and others met and worshiped at the Free Quaker Meeting House, Quaker philosophies still influence Philadelphia culture. Here you can learn about the Quaker religion, the Meeting House and meet some of Historic Philadelphia Inc.’s History Makers with Quaker ties. Spoiler Alert: There’s a connection between the Quakers and the creation of the U.S. Marine Corps. Stop by this Independence National Historical Park landmark and find out more!

  • First Saturday in April – last Sunday in October
    Weekends: 11 AM – 4 PM
A group of people sit in benches as a History Maker shares stories at the Free Quaker Meeting House
A Storyteller entertains guests at one of the storytelling benches along a stop of the Once Upon A Nation tours
Historic Job Opportunities
We’re always looking for the best and brightest talent to join the Historic Philadelphia team.
View Current Openings
A History Maker in colonial costume demonstrates the process for doing laundry in the Betsy Ross House
Support Once Upon A Nation
Once Upon A Nation relies on generous outside support to keep the stories going.