In the 18th century, groups of tenant farmers and 23 enslaved Africans ran the complex. Today, visitors can get a hands-on glimpse at the activities that used to comprise the workers’ daily lives. An operational gristmill shows visitors what milling was like, and a boat on the wharf offers an example of the river trade and a glimpse at the skills possessed by a river pilot. In addition, visitors can view the process of wheat threshing at the barn, or visit the activity center to shell beans, create linen from flax, or make biscuits.
On top of its hands-on activities, Philipsburg Manor provides guided tours, including special programs for schoolchildren. Period artifacts are on display, as are reproductions that can be touched by the public. In addition, interpreters wearing period costumes share a wealth of stories, including tales about slavery and resistance in the northern colonies.