From the Executive Director features news and reflections on the work of PHMC by its chief administrator.

William Penn first visited Pennsylvania 325 years ago this October. He arrived aboard the Welcome after an arduous journey of two months. “I am come well hither, I thank God,” he wrote, “and like the land, air and food very well.” In December 1682, he called the first meeting of the Pennsylvania Assembly that met for four days to establish procedural rules and pass an act of naturalization for Swedish, Finnish, and Dutch inhabitants, launching the beginnings of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

It’s fitting that Pennsbury Manor, Penn’s reconstructed country house on the banks of the Delaware River is operated by PHMC as one of the popular historic sites on the Pennsylvania Trails of HistoryTM. The founder built Pennsbury Manor in 1683 and made it his home during his two brief stays in his beloved province. The Bucks County attraction is celebrating the anniversary of his arrival with a newly opened visitors center (see “Destination: Pennsbury Manor” in this issue). The Commonwealth undertook intensive archaeological and architectural investigations of the site, resulting in the rebuilding of the residence and out-buildings based on available historical evidence in the 1930s. Works Progress Administration crews and youth corps worked on the restoration. Today, PHMC involves students in historical restorations through an innovative apprenticeship program that trains participants in traditional building skills so they will be able to help preserve our architectural treasures for future generations.

The forthcoming holiday season offers many opportunities to experience the Commonwealth’s rich heritage firsthand. PHMC’s historic sites and museums offer special programs that bring the past to life for visitors of all ages. Whether it’s a concert at Ephrata Cloister, Pennsylvania German traditions at Landis Valley Museum, or ethnic celebrations at Eckley Miners’ Village, there are many exciting ways to experience our diverse holiday customs. On Christmas Day, Washington Crossing Historic Park stages a reenactment of George Washington’s heroic crossing of the Delaware River.

Holiday gift-giving takes on new meaning with unusual items offered by our museum stores along the Pennsylvania Trails of History. The Pennsylvania Heritage Society will again present its Holiday Marketplace to showcase Pennsylvania articles from PHMC museum stores, the State Bookstore, and other organizations, on November 15–16 at the Commonwealth Keystone Building in Harrisburg. A gift membership to the Pennsylvania Heritage Society® shares the riches of Pennsylvania’s history all through the year with a subscription to our award-winning Pennsylvania Heritage and free general admission to all PHMC attractions.

We have much to be thankful for in Pennsylvania. Like William Penn, we enjoy the land, air, and food of this special place we call home. And, thanks to the proprietor, we share a rich history.

Barbara Franco
Executive Director, PHMC