Category: Chester County

Winterthur Museum and Country Estate

Nestled in the heart of Delaware’s beautiful Brandywine Valley, halfway between New York and Washington, D.C., Winterthur is a world set apart – a place where history lives on in spectacular gardens and romantic landscapes, a fabulous mansion filled with magnificent American antiques, and a nationally renowned research library.

Created in the early 20th century by H. F. du Pont and his father, Winterthur was designed in the spirit of 18th and 19th century European country houses. Today Winterthur is one of the few surviving great American country estates, beautifully maintained as a place of discovery, delight, exploration and imagination. Every season, and every visit, promises inspired new experiences and the Winterthur tradition of hospitality.

Step into the inspiring architectural surroundings of the mansion and view magnificent vignettes of antiques celebrating the finest in style and craftsmanship. The Winterthur Galleries are full of stunning displays of everyday life, art, leisure and work. Celebrate every season in Winterthur’s naturalistic garden, a masterpiece of color and design.

Garden tram tours make stops at areas of special interest. Children thrill at the Touch-It Room as well as the crafts and storytelling events. Visit the museum stores, the library and stop by for a bite to eat at the café or cafeteria. Special events, shows, fairs and changing exhibitions enhance the visit. Don’t miss the Yuletide decorations!

Check the website or call for tickets, hours and days of operation.

West Chester, PA

The Borough of West Chester has been the seat of government in Chester County since 1786 although it wasn’t incorporated until 1799. In the heart of the town is its courthouse, a classical revival building designed in the 1840s by Thomas U. Walter, one of the architects for the Capitol in Washington, D. C. Legal offices abound throughout. Today West Chester is part of the rapidly growing suburban complex surrounding Philadelphia.

The area was originally known as Turk’s Head after the Inn of the same name located in what is now the center of the borough and was settled principally by members of the Society of Friends. Today the downtown is filled with art galleries, unique retail shops, and a full array of restaurants to please gourmand tastes.

West Chester University, the fourth largest Philadelphia-area university, offers undergraduate and graduate programs. The West Chester Historical Society interprets the history of Chester County with programs and exhibits and a collection to serve researchers. Extraordinary Bed and Breakfast facilities are located in and around the West Chester historic countryside to welcome visitors.

Valley Forge National Historical Park

Valley Forge National Historical Park commemorates the 1777-1778 winter encampment of General George Washington and the Continental Army. Here you can explore the rolling landscape that helped create a nation.

There are parade grounds, fortifications, woods and open fields. You can peek into a soldiers’ hut to see what life was like during this long, cold winter. Monuments throughout the park help to tell the story of this perilous time.

A visit to the Welcome Center is a must. There are films about the encampment, lectures and displays that help to illustrate this revolutionary time. The gift shop is packed with books and items that share this time in our nation’s history. Park Rangers provide a wealth of programs and demonstrations that tell the story and are family friendly. Bus and trolley tours are available. The new Once Upon a Nation storytelling program illustrates the story of the Revolutionary War experience.

Washington’s Headquarters is another must stop on a tour of this national park. A hiking and biking trail encompasses the site and provides recreational activities for residents and visitors alike.

Check the website for a wealth of programs and activities at Valley Forge National Historical Park.

The Wharton Esherick Studio

Wharton Esherick (1887-1970) was among the vanguard of artists who created an American sculpture style early in the 20th century. Working primarily in wood, he extended his sculptural forms to furniture, furnishings and interiors. Considered to be the most influential designer of the century and know as the “Dean of American Craftsmen”, his works are now in major American museums as well as private collections.

The Studio, which took Esherick 40 years to build, reflects the artist’s changing styles from organic to expressionist to the lyrical free forms for which he is best known. The building, its contents and grounds have been preserved much as they were when he lived and worked there. On exhibition are more than 200 of his works – paintings, woodcuts, sculpture, furniture – produced between 1920 and 1970. Pieces are displayed without cases and can be touched and examined closely.

The Wharton Esherick Studio is a National Historic Landmark for Architecture. Admission is charged and the Studio is presented through one hour guided tours for which reservations are required. Groups only are received Monday to Friday. Visitors are requested to wear low-heeled shoes to protect the Studio’s floors. Call to check hours and days of operation.

The Mill at Anselma Preservation and Educational Trust, Inc.

Experience America’s rich industrial and agricultural past as you step inside the Mill at Anselma. Every gear, tool and barrel tells a story of how Anselma’s millers and their families lived and worked over the centuries. You can almost hear the conversations between miller and farmer as they dropped off bushels of wheat to be milled into flour.

Today, the Mill at Anselma is a National Historic Landmark as a testament to early American industrial ingenuity. The Mill is an extraordinary example of a custom water-powered grist mill which milled flour for its local community. Its wooden power train is completely intact and functions as it did when the mill was first built c. 1747. It has operated during three centuries.

Today, the Mill at Anselma inspires people in creative ways to discover its authentic technology and importance to the community through tours, milling demonstrations and its stone ground flour. Flour-milling demonstrations feature hands-on family fun helping to sift freshly ground flour and exploring the power of the water wheel. Flour and corn meal can be purchased in the gift shop.

Admission is charged. The mill is open from April through the end of November. Call for hours of operation and the milling schedule.

Springton Manor Farm

Springton Manor Farm is a 300 acre William Penn Manor, in agricultural use since the 1700’s. It overlooks centuries-old sugar maples, open pastures and stately Penn Oaks, which grace the lower pond. A Victorian garden, gazebo butterfly house and tiled terrace enhance the ambiance of this historic Chester County home.

Here families can experience life on a farm with livestock in the pastures and barn plus exhibits of antique farming equipment. Catch and release fishing is enjoyed in the pond and hiking trails add to the visitor experience. Special events are scheduled throughout the year along with educational school programs and summer camps.

The Manor House is also available for weddings, business meetings, family gatherings, class reunions or other special celebrations. Host your event surrounded by old world elegance and warmth in the Victorian period rooms. Full catering facilities are on-site.

Springton Manor Farm is a facility of the Chester Country Parks and Recreation Department. Call for information.

People’s Light and Theatre Company

Now in its 32nd season, the People’s Light and Theatre Company is a non-profit, professional theatre founded in 1974. The theatre includes two black box theatres with 375 and 180 seats, respectively. It produces eight or nine plays per season, mixing world premieres, contemporary plays, and fresh approaches to classic texts for its Main Stage Series and Family Discovery Series.

The theatre offers special talkbacks with artists and staff. It offers partnering opportunities with cultural and religious organizations in the community, behind the scene tours of its facilities, pre and post show receptions and access to its beautiful grounds and award-winning gardens, as well as discounted tickets for new groups.

The People’s Light and Theatre reaches new audiences through its nationally recognized arts education program, Project Discovery. This program serves 35,000 young people each year through in-school residencies, student matinees for free and special projects tailored to specific youth communities plus a year-round Theatre School for both young people and adults.

Be sure to visit PLACES ! – The Bistro at People’s Light & Theatre – with changing menus to bring you the freshest cuisine possible, cordially served in an intimate setting. Whether sitting by one of the fireplaces before or after the performance, or simply enjoying the gardens with some al fresco dining, you will be welcomed. Call 610 647-8060 for reservations.

Call the box office for tickets or subscriptions to this outstanding venue of artistic excellence. Check the website for the newest season of productions.

Iron & Steel Museum

The history of the American iron and steel industry was shaped by the personalities involved in the founding of the industry. Isaac Pennock founded the Brandywine Iron Works and Nail Factory in the early 19th century, reasoning that the area, located along the Brandywine River, had the right run and depth to power a mill. The company would eventually expand to become Lukens Inc. Pennock’s son-in-law, Dr. Charles Lukens, a physician by training, gave up his medical practice to partner with his father-in-law in the iron business.

Dr. Lukens’ successful foray into iron plate production passed to his wife after his untimely death at the age of 39. Rebecca Lukens, a young mother, demonstrated the foresight to eventually modernize the mill and make it capable of responding to the demands of the industrial revolution. She rebuilt and expanded the mill through the 1820s and 30s and became the nation’s first female industrialist. A long line of family members continued with the business in addition to the company’s countless men and women who were involved in the day-to-day operations of the mill.

Today you can visit this National Landmark property along South First Avenue which includes several key residential and office buildings that played a significant role in the development of Lukens. The proximity of these homes and offices to the mill reflects the Lukens and Huston families’ long-standing commitment to living and working close to the factory and the community.

The Brandywine Mansion is the oldest structure in the Lukens Historic District dating to the mid-1700s. Rebecca Lukens built Terracina in 1850-51 for her daughter Isabella who married Dr. Charles Huston. The Martha Gibbons House/VFW was built for daughter Martha. The C. L. Huston House was where Charles Lukens Huston lived while he was vice president in charge of operations at the mill. Of course, Graystone Mansion is the most architecturally significant residence in the district. Located nearby are the steel making mills and steel rolling mills. You can also get a glimpse into the operations of this steel company by visiting the Lukens Executive Office Building.

Come and visit this iron and steel complex. Together, the company, the Lukens family and the City of Coatesville offer a view of how small town steel developed, struggled and survives. Guided tours are given. An archival collection is open for researchers. A calendar of events includes specialized tours, concerts, lectures, a Victorian ice cream festival and Holiday events. Call for hours and an appointment.

Longwood Gardens

The world’s premier horticultural display garden offers majestic trees, exquisite gardens and conservatories, concerts, educational opportunities, illuminated fountains, flower shows, festivals and holiday displays.

In 1906, industrialist and philanthropist Pierre S. du Pont purchased an old Quaker farm near Kennett Square, PA, to save centuries-old trees from being cut for lumber. The farm became his country estate, with gardens planned to “exploit the sentiments and ideas associated with plants and flowers in a large way.” Recalling the great pleasure gardens of Europe, Longwood exemplifies a contemporary approach to Old World traditions.

Today the property encompasses 1,050 acres including woodlands and meadows, 20 outdoor gardens and 20 garden rooms inside a four-acre conservatory complex. The horticultural and performing arts programs invite visitors to experience the art of horticulture in an unforgettable setting. Acres of spring explode to delight and welcome one to the rebirth of the land; summer fountain festivals bring the fun of the season; the charms of autumn showcase the brilliant fall hues, the harvest spectacle and the exotic chrysanthemums. A Longwood Christmas with a holiday wonderland of 420,000 lights sparkling outdoors, exquisite plants and designer trees inside and strolling carolers and joyous music add to the festivities.

Longwood Gardens is open every day of the year. Admission is charged with group rates and guided tours available. Call for information and hours. The Gardens are open on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday evenings between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Kennett Underground Railroad Center at the History Station

The Kennett Underground Railroad Center (KURC) examines the role of Kennett area individuals – both black and white – in the Underground Railroad during the years leading up to the Civil War.

With its focus on an extraordinary aspect of regional history, KURC is truly a community endeavor. Put together by an all-volunteer, grassroots organization – a group of people who recognized the richness of this aspect of local history – the exhibit’s goals are simple: to highlight the brave travelers and conductors on southern Chester County’s Underground Railroad. It is the remarkable courage and determination of local citizens that allowed slaves to journey to freedom in the north.

Much work continues to be done to tell the full story of the local Underground Railroad, but here you will find a wealth of information about this unique period of America’s history.

Call for site visit information.