Editor’s Letter

Throughout 2015 PHMC has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of The State Museum and Archives Complex in Harrisburg with initiatives to preserve the original Midcentury Modern features of the buildings, both outside and inside, from architectural elements to original furnishings (see Hands-On History). A concurrent effort to update and revitalize the museum’s galleries also has been underway,...
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Pennsylvania Governors Residences Open to the Public

Pennypacker Mills Pennypacker Mills possesses a lengthy history dating to about 1720 when Hans Jost Hite built the fieldstone house and a gristmill near the Perkiomen Creek, Schwenksville, Montgomery County. Purchased in 1747 by Peter Pennypacker (1710-1770), the house was enlarged and a saw mill and a fulling mill were constructed. The property acquired its name for the three mills. Peter...
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Henry F. Ortlieb Company Bottling House

The Henry F. Ortlieb Company was once one of the largest beer brewers in Philadelphia. Founded by the Ortlieb family in 1869, the brewery grew considerably in the early 20th century as their market expanded. In 1948 the company’s final major building – the Bottling House – was completed to incorporate state-of-the-art bottling technology into the facility. Although most of the...
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Curating a New Home for History: A Conversation with W. Fred Kinsey and Irwin Richman

Established institutions rarely get the opportunity to hit the reset button. But that’s what happened with The State Museum of Pennsylvania in the early 1960s, after the long-anticipated William Penn Memorial Museum and Archives Building cleared its last bureaucratic hurdle. Ground was broken north of the State Capitol in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, in January 1962, and by summer Pennsylvania’s...
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Midcentury Modern Trails

From the 1950s into the 1970s, when Midcentury Modern architecture was at its height, a flurry of new construction took place on the Trails of History. Many of the visitor centers and museums from this period echoed historic forms appropriate to the sites where they were built. The visitor center at Ephrata Cloister, constructed in the late 1950s to mid-1960s, is complementary to the surviving...
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A Home for History: S.K. Stevens and the Campaign for the William Penn Memorial Museum and Archives

by Curtis Miner On December 23, 1959, Dr. S.K. Stevens (1904-74) sent out a final, end-of-the-year message to members of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC). It came in the form of a brief, typewritten memo, informing them that Governor David L. Lawrence (1889-1966) had that morning signed a spending bill for the construction of a museum and archives building. “I think this...
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Pennsylvania Farm Show

For more than 30 years before Lawrie & Green developed the design for The State Museum and Archives Complex in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, the architectural firm designed a number of other important structures throughout the city, including the Pennsylvania Farm Show building. The Pennsylvania Farm Show began in 1917. In its early years, it was held in several different locations throughout...
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Pennsylvania State Archives: Past, Present and Future

Designed by the Harrisburg architectural firm Lawrie & Green as part of the project for the William Penn Memorial complex, the current Pennsylvania State Archives building opened in October 1964. The need for a new archives building, however, dates back to when the State Archives was originally established in 1903 as the Division of Public Records under the State Library of Pennsylvania. For...
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Editor’s Letter

Names and dates. To some they’re the dreaded stuff of high school history exams. To those of us who study and preserve history, however, they’re essential keys for understanding the past. As we continue our commemoration of the 50th anniversary of The State Museum and Archives Complex at PHMC, a clarification of certain names and dates may be in order for understanding exactly what...
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The Pittsburgh Renaissance Historic District

Throughout much of its industrial history, Pittsburgh had an image problem. In 1868 James Parton wrote in The Atlantic Monthly that it was “Hell with the lid taken off.” Later, it became known as “The Smoky City.” Pollution was a big issue, but there were other problems, such as traffic congestion, flooding and blight that made Pittsburgh a less-than-desirable place to...
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