The land we now call Riverbend sits within Lenapehoking, the ancestral homelands the Lenape tribe have inhabited for thousands of years. Based on written records describing Lenape land at Black Rocks in the mid-18th century, local historians believe that Lenape communities used the riverbank at Riverbend as a fishing site during summer months. The arrival of settlers and their appropriation of Lenape land through force and fraudulent treaties displaced the Lenape both to other areas within Lenapehoking and into diaspora in Canada, the Midwest, and Oklahoma.
The 1682 William Penn land grant of 5,000 acres to British settler Joshua Holland included the land that became Riverbend. When clearing new land for agriculture, it was common practice for farmers to remove large stones from the ground as they prepared for planting, and these stones were often used to construct walls. Walls like this are still found at Riverbend and at many of the surrounding properties.
The property on which Riverbend sits was eventually transferred to Welsh Quaker Morris Llewellyn, Sr., a farmer with substantial land holdings. At this time, the land was known as "Indian Fields." The names given to what is now Bryn Mawr, Gladwyne, and Bala Cynwyd reflect Welsh influence during this period. At this time, Spring Mill Road led to a ford and later to a ferry crossing the Schuylkill River. This served as a transport connection to Spring Mill Road on the Conshohocken side of the river. Although remnants of the old road are still visible on Riverbend's property, access to the river was cut off by the construction of the Schuylkill Expressway in the 1950s.
In 1864, the Union Army leased land from farmers on the south side of Spring Mill Road to establish Camp Discharge. This camp housed Union soldiers released from Confederate prison camps before they returned to civilian life. A sentry house from Camp Discharge still stands near Riverbend’s entrance.