Monday, May 26, 2014

Washington's Headquarters at Valley Forge (aka The Potts House)

During the winter encampment at Valley Forge hundreds of enlisted men's wives followed the army year-round.  Some of the general officer's wives came on extended visits.  These included Martha Washington and some of her staff from Mount Vernon.

Unlike some of the officers who quartered with the general population, Washington rented this entire house for the duration of the encampment.

The rooms downstairs served as the command post for coordinating the daily operations of the army.

In addition to Martha and her staff from Mount Vernon, several of his junior officers bunked here too.

It made for a very crowded household.

Of course, George and Martha had their own bedroom on the second floor.  It was raining the day I took the picture so it's kind of dark.

The third floor of the house was used for storage and servants quarters.

An army travels on it's stomach - even if food is hard to come by.  The kitchen was seperate from the house, for safety, and connected by a walkway.  

Martha probably brought her own people to staff the kitchen.

Near the house a stable was built from the same materials as the house.

Also near the house is a statue of our first President.
 The statue wasn't the only thing erected to honor Washington.  Next time I'll post pictures of a beautiful church just down the road named in his honor.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Valley Forge National Historical Park

Last weekend we celebrated Memorial Day early by touring one of the most famous places in Revolutionary War history.  Valley Forge was the site of the 6-month winter/spring encampment by the Continental Army from December 19, 1777 to June 19, 1778.

The first day we visited it rained all day but the next day was sunny when I took a pic of the visitor's center.

 Inside the center is an excellent museum, a short film about Valley Forge and a great gift shop.  The advantage of a rainy day is that the rangers have time to answer all your questions and, in fact, are eager to talk to you.

The driving tour includes the National Memorial Arch dedicated in 1917 to commemorate the "patience and fidelity" of the soldiers who wintered here.

While experiencing a unusually harsh winter, supply shortages, exposure, and poor sanitation the men were housed, not in tents, but in a city of 2,000 plus huts laid out in parallel lines along planned military avenues.

There were many other winter encampments during the course of the war but Valley Forge remains the most famous due to the nearly 2,000 deaths out of the 12,000 men camped there.  Disease, not cold or starvation, was the true scrouge of the camp with most of the men dying during the warmer months of March, April, and May when supplies were the most abundant.

At that time Valley Forge was, in fact, populated with quite a few homes and farms.

Most of the officers took advantage of the relative comfort of a room or two in someone's home - whether the owner liked it or not.

General James Varnum occupied this early-1700s farmhouse.  It was good to be an officer!

Next time:  General Washington's Headquarters

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Staying at the Historic General Warren Inne (yes, with an e)

Over the weekend Hubby and I took a couple of days to tour Valley Forge.  While we were there we stayed at an inn that has been in operation since 1745.  It started out as The Admiral Vernon Inne but in 1758 the name was changed to the Admiral Warren after the famed Admiral Peter Warren.  He was a hero in defense of the American colony that year at Louisburg, (Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia) during the French and Indian War.

During the revolution, the Inne was owned by John Penn of Philadelphia, loyalist and grandson of William Penn.  It quickly became a popular stage stop and a Tory stronghold.  It was here that Loyalists met and plotted against the revolutionaries.

In 1786, John Penn sold the property to Casper Fahnestock.  During Fahnestock's long ownership the Inne thrived, attracting travelers because of its reputation for clean lodging and excellent food.

In 1825 an effort was made to make amends with the new nation and the Admiral Warren was renamed the General Warren, to honor the American hero of Bunker Hill.  During the 1820's it became a relay stop for mail stages and a post office.  However, in 1831, the Philadelphia and Columbia Railway opened for travel and in 1834 the last regular stage went through dooming the inn as traffic by-passed it.

In the succeeding years The General Warren Inne changed hands often, occasionally becoming a private residence.

In the mid 1980s the current owners made great strides to return the Inne to it's 18th century elegance and the upper floors were renovated into 8 suites.  This is the sitting room in the Franklin Suite - our room for the night.

We had a queen size bed in the bedroom along with a flat screen TV and a fireplace.

Then there were two bathrooms!

One had a jacuzzi tub! 

Today, the inn is busy once again with travellers.  It's also a popular place for dinner and an beautiful venue for weddings.  We highly recommend it!

Next time:  our visit to Valley Forge

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Jackson Mansion in Berwick

We are finally enjoying some beautiful weather here in Pennsylvania.  I even dug out some shorts to wear today and Maggie and I are sitting outside the trailer while I post.  On Saturday, Hubby and I drove into the town of Berwick to do a little sightseeing.

On the way into town we stopped at this great little flea market and farmer's market and picked up some early season tomatoes and eggplant. 

Finally, it was into Berwick where we saw the Jackson Mansion built in 1877-1879.  And, once again, they wouldn't allow me to take pictures inside - and it is absolutely gorgeous!

We began out tour in the carriage house where we learned that the builder of the mansion was Colonel Clarence Gearhart Jackson born in 1842.

At the age of 20, Clarence enlisted in the Union Army.  He was twice wounded and twice captured by the Confederate Army.

It was while he was in prison in Charleston that he designed his dream house, determined to build it once he got back home.  He returned to Berwick in 1865, married and had two daughters.

  The style of the mansion is Victorian with touches of Gothic and Eastlake.  The home is made of Vermont stone which was hauled here by horse and sleigh.  Unfortunately, the Colonel lived only a short time in the mansion.  He died suddenly in May 1880 at only 38 years of age.  His wife continued to live here until her death in 1913.

Upon her death, the daughters tried to sell the mansion but could not find a buyer who would pay even $10,000.  They then donated the mansion to the Borough of Berwick in 1914 in memory of their parents.  Up until four years ago the home was used as various city offices.  Finally, someone realized the historic value of the mansion and they have been working to restore it ever since.  The work is ongoing with each room being restored as funds become available.  A lot of the furniture is original to the home and the rest is period.   The Boy Scouts added the Statue of Liberty to the front lawn where free concerts are held all summer long.

We had a great time learning a little "Berwick" history.  This Friday we're off to tour Valley Forge.  Appropriately, the weather is predicted to turn cool and rainy.  We'll really get a taste of history!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Historic Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania

On Saturday, Hubby and I drove 28 miles further into the mountains to the tiny resort town of Eagles Mere.  In the 2010 census it had a population of 120 people.

It was founded in by farmers in 1877.  In 1996 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

From the 1880s to the 1940s it was primarily known for it's five large resort hotels stituated around a large lake.  

You can learn all about Eagles Mere history is a little free museum.

You could have anything your heart desired at one of the hotels including any kind of entertainment or recreation.

However, some people preferred to build their own "summer cottages" and most of them are owned today by people who still come up from the cities to enjoy the relative coolness of the mountains and lake during the summertime.

I think I could manage to rough it for a while in one of these cottages.

The "season" hadn't started yet in Eagles Mere, but on the way home we found an antique store crammed full of interesting stuff.

These are the treasures I found on Saturday, but I'm sure I'll be back to shop again!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Covered Bridges of Columbia County, Pennsylvania

On Friday, Hubby and I decided to take a little driving tour and see some of the covered bridges this county is famous for.  There are 20 bridges within the county and four on the county border.  However, there are two more counties in the state with even more bridges!

There are actually two bridges here - the only twin covered bridges in the United States.  They were constructed in 1884 for $720 and named after John Paden who operated a nearby sawmill.

This is the Stillwater Bridge, built in 1849 for a cost of $1,124.

Not too far away is the Josiah Hess Bridge constructed in 1875 for $1,349.50 and named after the Hess family who owned a sawmill and farm nearby.

You can still drive across the Patterson Bridge built in 1875 for $804.

C.W. Eves built the Kramer Bridge in 1881 for $414.50 and named it after Alexander Kramer, a local farmer who also bid on its construction.

The next day's adventure took us to a little resort town with some big houses, but that will have to wait for another post.  Doing this one on my iPad has been a struggle!