Executive Director’s Message

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

This issue of Pennsylvania Heritage contains a new feature that calls attention to the Commonwealth’s rich collection of historic sites and museums known to residents and visitors alike as the well traveled Pennsylvania Trail of History. On the back cover of each forthcoming edition we will highlight one of the twenty-eight fascinating attractions administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission with a photograph and brief background information. On the inside back cover we will continue to provide readers with calendar information together with previews for future articles.

The Commonwealth’s commitment to preserve and interpret Pennsylvania’s culture and heritage through historic sites and museums should not be taken for granted. Few states in the nation can match the quality and quantity of architectural landmarks and unparalleled collections cared for, and presented with, public support. The broad range of our historic properties is most impressive; for years the facilities operated by our agency have provided information about major themes in the Commonwealth’s history.

The colonial period heritage of Pennsylvania is amply represented along the Trail of History. The English country houses at Hope Lodge and Graeme Park, as well as the reconstructed manor house of William Penn at Pennsbury, offer a glimpse of the life and the times of early political leadership. The arrival and growing presence of German settlers in the eighteenth century is represented through the restoration of Conrad Weiser’s home, the extensive collections at the Landis Valley Museum, and the extraordinary furnishings, structures, and grounds of Ephrata Cloister. At the Daniel Boone Homestead and the Somerset Historical Center, visitors gain a perspective on life on both the eastern and western frontiers of Pennsylvania.

One of the central themes of early Pennsylvania history is toleration and the subsequent settlement of nationalities with diverse religious and political views. The historic houses of William Penn and Joseph Priestley are monuments to that tradition of individual liberty. The communal experiences preserved at Ephrata Cloister and Old Economy Village provide vivid testimony for an alternative vision of life in a new land.

Pennsylvania was a strategically critical territory for a number of military contests during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. At Bushy Run Battlefield and at the Fort Pitt Museum, the struggle with the French and with their Native American allies is carefully preserved and interpreted. Two of the most dramatic stories of the American Revolution are told at Washington Crossing Historic Park and the Brandywine Battlefield. The role of the Brig Niagara in the pivotal Battle of Lake Erie in 1813 is now portrayed through the striking reconstruction of the Commonwealth’s official flagship as a sailing museum. The many sacrifices of men and women in these wars, as well as in the world wars of the twentieth century, are recognized by exhibitions at the Pennsylvania Military Museum.

During the next several years, readers can learn more about these significant landmarks more leisurely through our various features in Pennsylvania Heritage, and by reading the excellent articles about all of our historic places that appear in each and every edition. Of course, after you finish reading I hope that you will accept this invitation to visit our fascinating attractions and experience the Pennsylvania Trail of History firsthand. I guarantee a warm welcome!

Brent D. Glass
Executive Director