Museums and Historic Sites presents news and information about the historic sites and museums of PHMC.

Budget Cuts Force Retrenchment

Ten historic sites and properties have been closed by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in order to overcome a 1975-76 budget deficiency of $648,000. They will remain closed until the Legislature provides a supplemental appropriation or local organization, such as historical societies, volunteer to assume responsibil­ity for operating them.

The hope of the Commission is that these properties can be reopened either through a restoration of operating funds in its budget and/or through the efforts or responsible volun­teer groups. The properties represent a sizable investment in acquisition and restoration costs.

Each closed property is a part of the Pennsylvania “Trail of History” and the network of historic sites and museums developed to reflect the Commonwealth’s historic and cul­tural heritage. Most, if not all, of the properties could have been expected to host an increasing number of visitors dur­ing the Bicentennial observance. Through its properties, the Commission provides many of the attractions that help to make the tourist industry important to the economic wel­fare of the Commonwealth.

In response to Governor Milton J. Shapp’s call to organ­izations to volunteer to take over the properties slated for closing, the Bradford House Historical Association has stepped forward to take over and to keep open the David Bradford House in Washington.

Scranton Iron Furnace, originally slated to be closed with the ten properties, will continue to be kept open until com­pletion of a construction project there.

In concurrent action, the Commission reduced operating schedules at seventeen historic sites and properties. It also approved a revision of operating schedules in the field at the various sites and properties. The revised schedules more nearly match the pattern of visitor traffic. Winter opening hours [in 1975] are from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. Sundays.

The ten closed properties are: Tuscarora Academy, Port Royal, Juniata County; Old Browns Mill School, near Chambersburg, Franklin County; Pithole City Museum, near Titusville, Venango County; Robert Fulton Birthplace, near Quarryville, Lancaster County; Old Custom House and Cashier’s House, Erie; Warrior Run Church, Watsontown, Northumberland County; Searights Tollhouse, near Fairbank, Fayette County; Graeme Park, Hatboro, Montgomery County; Fort Augusta, Sunbury; and Roland Curtin Mansion, near Howard, Centre County.

Properties closed Mondays under the cutback are: Valley Forge State Park; Washington Crossing State Park; Pennsylvania Farm Museum at Landis Valley, near Lancaster; Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Strasburg; Fort Pitt Museum, Pittsburgh; Daniel Boone Homestead, near Reading; Penns­bury Manor, Morrisville, Bucks County; Pennsylvania Military Museum, Boalsburg; Old Economy Village, Ambridge, Beaver County; Drake Well Museum, near Titusville, Venango County; Ephrata Cloister, Lancaster County; and Bushy Run Battlefield Park, near Jeannette.

Properties closed Mondays and Tuesdays are: Cornwall Furnace, near Lebanon; Somerset Historical Center, near Somerset; Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, near Galeton, Potter County; Old Stone House, near Slippery Rock, Butler County; and Johnson Tavern, near Mercer, Mercer County.


Associates Meet at Old Economy

Old Economy at Ambridge was the site for the Fourth Annual Associates’ meeting October 17 and 18 [1975].

Four discussions or panels were presented for the participants from the associate groups at various historic sites across the state. The panels presented were:

“Structures of Associate Groups” by Mrs. Patricia B. Reibel, Associate consultant for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; Michael J. Ripton, PHMC Bureau of Historic Sites and Properties director; and Mrs. Nathan Schwartz, PHMC commissioner;

“Interpreting Decorative Arts to the Visitor” by Barbara Booton, Old Economy decorative arts coordinator;

“Crafts in a Historic Setting” by Mrs. Leslie Anderson, Pennsylvania Lumber Museum Associates; Mrs. Helen White, Ephrata Cloister Associates; and John B. Brooks, Pennsylvania Farm Museum curator of crafts and education;

“Museum Gift Shops” by Richard Fleckenstein, Ephrata Cloister; George Stover, Old Mill Village, Inc.; William Ebbel, Landis Valley Associates; and Miss Edith Reisler, Pennsylvania Lumber Museum Associates.

The Associates meet annually to exchange ideas and expertise for their mutual benefit. The meeting moves from place to place so that the Associates have an opportunity to see one group’s operation in-depth.


Old Economy’s 19th Century Christmas

The Nineteenth-Century Christmas at Old Economy is an attempt to show what Christmas was like early in the nineteenth century when there were no commercial aspects and even one made his or her own decorations. This year it was held December 13 and 14 with a preview dinner December 12. The event, which is sold out every year, originated in 1969.

Each of the fourteen ground-floor rooms in the Great House (1826) has different decorations. A volunteer usually takes a room or several rooms and uses her own individually-made decorations. Greens, dried seeds and flowers, and fruits and colored paper, available in the nineteenth century, are utilized. The Baker House (1826), the Store (1827) and the Tailor Shop (1827) are done by couples who handle all the decorations themselves. The Store contains dried and herbs which are sold to visitors. Food is served in the Granary. An Ambridge baker prepares several different kinds of German pastries. Crafts associated with Christmas, such as lace making, toy making, wreath making and cooking are also presented.

The Nineteenth-Century Christmas, which attracts approximately 2,500 visitors, attempts to give the visitors the feeling of Christmas 150 years ago. Mrs. Charles Andrews, Beaver Falls, who was president of the Harmonie Associates in 1969, was the originator of the name and the general concept of the event. Mrs. R. W. Dunn, Beaver, current presi­dent, has been instrumental in shaping the event into what it is today.

Old Economy, located in Ambridge, is administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Daniel B. Reibel is curator.


Diplomats Visit French Azilum

French Azilum, the site of the eighteenth-century colony of refugees from the French Revolution near Towanda on the Susquehanna River, recently was the focal point of a visit by approximately thirty foreign diplomats.

The visiting representatives from the thirtieth session of the United Nations in New York were dinner guests of the French Azilum Associates at a buffet dinner and overnight guests in the homes of residents of the historic site’s area.

Maxwell Whiteman of Elkins Park, a member of the Penn­sylvania Historical and Museum Commission, which admin­isters French Azilum, spoke briefly as a representative of the Commonwealth on the development of Pennsylvania and the activities of the Commission prior to the visitor’s tour and other events.

The Azilum visit was arranged as part of a weekend trip to Pennsylvania and New York to provide the representatives of various countries throughout the world a “grass roots” experience in a rural American area. The Travel Program for Foreign Diplomats, Inc. of New York arranged the tour through Mrs. Martha Hermann, property head.

Besides the dinner at the John Laporte House, built in 1836 by the son of an Azilum founder, the foreign visitors also toured a nearby dairy farm. The Pennsylvania Farmers Association joined the Associates in hosting the dinner, featuring a variety of foods typical of the area.


Governor Dedicates Railroad Museum

Governor Milton J. Shapp dedicated the Common­wealth’s $1.8 million Railroad Museum of Pennsyl­vania at Strasburg, Lancaster County, on September 10 [1975]. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, which administers the new museum, held open house follow­ing dedication ceremonies.

The Governor noted that the popular new Railroad Museum will be listed among places of interest to Bicen­tennial visitors for next year.

Rather than the traditional ribbon cutting, the ceremony included an act appropriate to railroading. Governor Shapp rang the brass bell of the museum’s Pennsylvania-made “Centennial Engine” to signal the formal opening. The bell is that of the locomotive, Tahoe, built in 1875 at the Baldwin Locomotive Works, Philadelphia, for the Virginia and Truckee Railroad in Nevada. The restored engine also served as the backdrop for the speaker’s platform.

Also speaking was William A. Lashley, vice-president, Public Affairs, Penn-Central Railroad. He spoke as a repre­sentative not only for his firm but for the other railroads whose contributions of railway artifacts have been vital to the museum’s development.

Mrs. Ferne Smith Hetrick, PHMC chairman, also spoke and introduced Commission members. William J. Wewer, executive director of the PHMC, gave brief remarks and served as master of ceremonies.

The Lampeter-Strasburg High School Band provided music for the program. Th.e Lancaster Chamber of Com­merce and the Pennsylvania Dutch Travel Bureau joined the Commission in the dedication arrangements.

The Railroad Museum is a unique facility designed and constructed especially for displaying railway equipment and artifacts. It is one of several of the state’s museums designed to depict industries significant in the state’s economic development. Although the Railroad Museum is Pennsylvania oriented, it reflects the growth and development of the industry on a national basis.

Since the museum opened April 22 [1975], visitors have averaged over 1,000 persons daily. In addition to many other artifacts and displays, the museum has forty-five pieces of major equipment on display indoors and on the outdoor tracks. The equipment includes twenty-two locomotives, fifteen passenger and other cars and eight freight cars.

The director of the museum, George M. Hart, brings a special background to his position. Mr. Hart, who has been interested in railroads as long as he can remember, has a broad interest in railroads that includes doing historical research in various facets, owning and operating steam locomotives, and sponsoring the passenger trains to points of scenic and historic interest. In addition, he has freelanced with railroads, both in and out of the Commonwealth as he has sought items in the field.

In discussing his vocation that began as an avocation, Mr, Hart said that it “grew like topsy.” He had been self-employed in railroads for five years prior to joining the PHMC: seven years ago. In advising persons interested in pursuing; career in railroad history, he suggests following one’s own. pursuits, enabling the interest to grow or evolve on its own.

Mr. Hart, when asked who was most influential in his gaining railroad expertise, said no single person is responsible. He noted that five or ten individuals scattered across the country have most influenced his career. A teacher was, however, critical to his developing interest in America history.

State Honors General Pulaski

Pennsylvania honored General Casimir Pulaski in a color­ful ceremony 198 years from the date of the battle in which he fought. An historical marker was dedicated on September 13 [1975] for General Pulaski, the Polish volunteer who fought in the American Revolution. Fittingly, the marker was erected at Brandywine Battlefield State Park.

Unveiling the marker were Edward Mitchell, special assis­tant for Communications and press secretary to Governor Milton J. Shapp; Maj. Gen. John J. Remetta of Scranton; and Mrs. Ferne Smith Hetrick, chairman of the Pennsyl­vania Historical and Museum Commission.

The marker was erected at the site of the September 11, 1777 battle. It recognizes General Pulaski’s service to America and to Gen. George Washington. The marker states: “CASIMIR PULASKI Polish volunteer, commanded cavalry detachment helping to cover Washington’s retreat from Brandywine, Sept. 11, 1777. As brigadier general, served Sept. 1777-March 1778 as first overall commander of the Continental Army’s cavalry. He was mortally wounded at the siege of Savannah, Oct. 9, 1779.”

Mr. Mitchell spoke as a representative of the Commonwealth and the Governor at the ceremonies, held as a Bicen­tennial observance by the PHMC. He noted that honoring General Pulaski reflects all nationalities in the struggle for independence.

Representing the military as a speaker was Maj. Gen. Remetta, director of the Field Command, Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

Speaking also were Mrs. Hetrick, who introduced Mr. Mitchell; William J. Wewer, executive director of the PHMC; Dr. John J. Stoudt, chairman of the Brandywine Battlefield State Park Commission; Josef W. Wiejacz, minister-counselor, Polish Embassy, Washington, D.C.; and the Rev. Adam J. Bydlon, pastor of St. Hedwig Roman Catholic Church, Chester. Mr. Wewer presided at the program and the Rev. Bydlon gave the invocation and benediction and blessed the marker.

Present for the ceremonies were PHMC members Mrs. James John, Sen. Clarence D. Bell, Delaware County, and Rep. Samuel W. Morris, Chester County, all members of the Marker Dedication Committee.

Serving as honorary co-chairmen for the dedication were Joseph A. Borkowski, chairman of the Central Council of Polish Organizations, Pittsburgh; Henry J. Dende, editor-publisher, Polish American Journal, Scranton; Alexander S. Osowski, director of Streets and Public Improvements of Chester; and Dr. Robert G. Stanley, Media.

Troop “A” of the First Squadron, 104th Cavalry pre­sented the colors to open the ceremony. The historic mili­tary unit also is known as the First City Troop. Philadel­phia’s First City Troop participated in the Battle of Brandy­wine.

In order to give the program a flavor of the Old World, the Youth Group of the nearly 100-year-old Polish National Alliance performed. Mrs. Sophie Litwa directed the group members, who wore costumes authentic to the area of Krakow in Southern Poland. Miss Denise Litwa of the group presented Mrs. Hetrick with a bouquet.

Under the direction of Dr. Stanley, a military pageantry unit, the Pulaski Legion, performed on horseback. Dr. Stan­ley commands the mounted unit.

Also participating were Troop 86 of St. Hedwig’s Church, Chester; the Szymansky-Rywadki American Legion Post 546, Chester; and the Polish Veterans Post 104.


300 Participate in Pennsbury Forum

The pastoral atmosphere of Pennsbury Manor was tine setting for the Eleventh Annual Pennsbury Americana Forum. Approximately 300 persons from the United States and Europe participated in the event, held September 11-14 [1975].

The program, designed to present useful information for the participants, was sponsored by the Pennsylvania His­torical and Museum Commission and Pennsbury Society, Inc. Dewey Lee Curtis, Pennsbury Manor curator, was chairman.

Pennsbury Manor, administered by the PHMC, is the re­created seventeenth-century home of William Penn in Morrisville, Lower Bucks County. It consists of over fifty acres of gardens and park in a rural atmosphere. The Manor House contains the largest collection of English seventeenth-century furniture in Pennsylvania.

One of the program’s features was given by Harold M. Sack on “Authenticating American Antique Furniture: Fakes and Originals.” Mr. Sack, president of Israel Sack, Inc., New York, said that knowing what you are looking for and where to look is half the battle. He gave his practical and entertaining presentations during luncheon lectures on Friday and Saturday.

Another special highlight was a limited enrollment Furniture Conservation Workshop, conducted by John W. Melody, conservator of furniture, Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, Delaware.

Other program sessions were presented by curators of museums and art galleries and authorities on antiques from Europe and the United States. In an article in the New York Times, the forum was cited as an example of programs that have introduced American collectors to a disciplined study of their special interests in the decorative arts.

Three separate programs were held during the forum. One, a special three-day session, was organized in coopera­tion with the Delhom Gallery of Glass and Ceramics, Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina. Chairman of the session was M. Mellanay Delhom, curator, Delhom Gallery of Glass and Ceramics. A second program was held for two days on “Prints.” Joan D. Dolmetsch, curator of prints and maps of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation was chairman. The third two-day program, “The American Image of Our House Museums,” was chaired by Michael J. Ripton, director, Historic Sites and Properties, the PHMC.

The Forum Committee consisted of Mr. Curtis, chairman; James Biddle, National Trust for Historic Preservation; Dr. E. McClung Fleming, Winterthur Museum; J. Jefferson Miller, II, Smithsonian Institution; John Snowden Renninger, the Pennsbury Society; Erie de Jonge, PHMC; Mr. Ripton, PHMC, and Mrs. Sarah Bond of Pennsbury Manor, secretary.


Fall Harvest Days Held

Approximately forty-two craftsmen participated in the colorful Fall Harvest Days at the Pennsylvania Farm Museum at Landis Valley. An estimated 9,500 visitors observed activities involved in preparing a household of farm and family for the oncoming winter.

Chores included butchering, baking in the outdoor ovens, flailing, roof thatching, and drying apple schnitz and beMS in the old but newly acquired outdoor dry house. House, hold activities included spinning, dyeing and weaving for a picture of country life as it existed a century ago.

Fall Harvest Days activities are interpreted throughout the museum’s outstanding regular displays of rural Americana housed in over twenty exhibit buildings, some original and some re-created. The museum is located on a 100-acre tract in Lancaster County. It is situated on the Oregon Pike (United States Route 272), four and one-half miles north of Lancaster.