A Capital Idea! A Brief and Bumpy History of Pennsylvania’s Capitols

A mere one hundred or so miles separate Philadelphia’s Chestnut and Harrisburg’s Third streets. But the path­ – metaphorically, at least­ – between the Keystone State’s first and final capitol build­ings seems far longer and rockier than geography suggests. From the Commonwealth’s earliest days, when the government met in Philadelphia’s elegant State...
read more

Shorts

“A Portrait of an American City: 200 Years of New Castle History,” chronicling the founding and settlement of the first community laid out in present-day Lawrence County, is on exhibit at the Lawrence County Historical Society through May 1999. Laid out by John Carlysle Stewart in 1798, New Castle was incorporated as a borough in 1825 and recognized as a city in 1869. “A...
read more

The Boat Ride that Changed America: Washington Crossing Historic Park

The characters a seem straight out of a big screen military blockbuster: the protagonist, a distinguished squire turned military commander, appearing outwardly controlled, yet besieged by internal doubts; his antagonist, a general whose redeeming qualities are negated by his arrogance and complacency; a comely widow; heroes, cads, and a supporting cast of thousands. The plot is also...
read more

Executive Director’s Message

Remembering the twentieth century has become a preoccupation bordering on obsession. As the lists of greatest moments and most important people grows daily, I am equally intrigued not only by what we choose to recall but the way in which we decide to commemorate the past. Over the past one hundred years Pennsylvanians have remembered their history by constructing a stunning array of statues,...
read more

Muckraking the Governor: Samuel W. Pennypacker Battles Philadelphia’s Press

“… the country press endeavors to ascertain and further the interests of the people around them. In the large cities, what is popularly called ‘Yellow Journalism,’ with its gross headlines, its vulgar and perverted art, it’s relish for salacious events and horrible crimes, and all the other symptoms of newspaper disease, is gaining foothold.” – Governor...
read more

The Value of Pennsylvania History

George W. Bush won the presidential election of 2000 because the fifty states cast more electoral votes for him, even though more people actually voted for his opponent, Albert A. Gore Jr. The election reminded Americans about a curious institution called the Electoral College, and an equally peculiar system known as federalism in which each state conducts elections according to distinct laws...
read more

Executive Director’s Message

This edition of Pennsylvania Heritage pays tribute to The State Museum of Pennsylvania on its centennial. The museum was developed as one of the first comprehensive state museums in the nation. Sylvester K. Stevens (1904-1974), the legendary executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), brought the agency to new, unparalleled levels of professionalism. Under his...
read more

An Impressive Legacy: A Half-Century of Historic Preservation in Pennsylvania, 1955-2005

A quarter-century ago, James Biddle (1929-2005), president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, from 1968 to 1980, was named chairman of Pennsylvania’s first State Historic Preservation Board. Jimmy, as the scion of one of the Commonwealth’s most notable families was known – especially to fellow preservationists, many of them working at the grassroots level –...
read more

Bookshelf

Literature in Stone: The Hundred Year History of Pennsylvania’s State Capitol Edited by Ruthann Hubbert-Kemper and Jason L. Wilson Pennsylvania Capitol Preservation Committee, 2006; 384 pages, cloth, $29.95 The Pennsylvania Capitol Preservation Committee knows how to celebrate a milestone, dramatically evidenced by its publication of Literature in Stone: The Hundred YearHistory of...
read more

Dr. Henry C. Mercer’s Fonthill

Henry Chapman Mercer (1856–1930), scion of a wealthy Doylestown, Bucks County, family was known for many characteristics and traits: well-bred, handsome, inquisitive, erudite, and — to townspeople — decidedly eccentric. He was known for his contributions as a master ceramicist, local historian, writer, archaeologist, ethnologist, museum curator, amateur architect, collector, horticulturist,...
read more