Category: Chester County

Hopewell Furnace National Historical Site

In America’s industrial infancy, tall stone structures venting smoke and flames were a familiar part of the rural landscape. These charcoal-fueled iron furnaces produced the versatile metal crucial to the nation’s growth. For over a century, Hopewell was one of the hundreds of “iron plantations” built around this technology. Here generations of ironmasters, craftsmen, and workers produced iron goods during war and peace – ranging from cannon and shot to the well-known Hopewell stove and domestic items such as pots and sash weights. Shared social and family bonds in an atmosphere of reasonable cooperation made these plantations stable and productive communities, the base on which America’s iron and steel industry was founded.

Mark Bird built Hopewell Furnace in 1771. Early colonists had carried blast furnace technology to America in the mid-17th century and by the time of the Revolution, American forges, furnaces and mills were turning out a seventh of the world’s iron goods much to the chagrin of England. Pennsylvania was the most important iron-producing center in the colonies. Over the years with several different owners, the iron production declined. The Civil War era gave the furnace a temporary reprieve, but the old rural charcoal-fired and water-powered furnaces were transformed to urban concentrations of steam-powered, hot-blast coke and anthracite furnaces. In the summer of 1883, Hopewell Furnace made its final blast.

Today, the site is restored to the period of 1820-40. A tour will interpret the role of the ironmaster and the founder and demonstrate the iron-making process. When “in blast”, the community worked in rhythm to assure the quality of the product. A tour of the park will show you life at the furnace including the ironmaster’s mansion, the springhouse and smokehouse for storing and curing foods, the tenant houses and boarding houses for the workers, the schoolhouse ruins. The blacksmith shop is operational to show the work produced there and the cast house also demonstrates the moulders casting iron into stove plates and other products.

Hopewell Furnace is open daily except for most federal holidays. In summer, activities depicting village occupations are presented. Guided tours are given. Check the website for special events and programs. Nearby French Creek State Park has picnicking, camping and swimming facilities.

Historic Yellow Springs

Nestled among gentle knolls and guarded by centuries-old trees, the historic village of Yellow Springs is a tranquil reminder of our American heritage. Located in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, Yellow Springs stirs the imagination of all who visit. For more than 275 years, it has been a contributor to our nation’s history, tradition and folklore.

From the earliest days, when Lenape Indians recognized the mystical yellow water bubbling up from the ground as having unique curative powers, to the year 1722 when a colonial health spa was opened, Yellow Springs was establishing a mission of encouraging harmony between man and nature. This was the site of the only Revolutionary War hospital commissioned and built by the Continental Congress and provided medical aide to General George Washington’s beleaguered troops at Valley Forge. The establishment of the Chester Springs Soldiers’ Orphan School and Literary Institute continued to provide comfort.

The exceptional landscape was attractive to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts when they established a country school on the grounds. Further creative energies flowed forth when the site became home for the film production efforts of Good News Productions.

Since 1974, Historic Yellow Springs has accepted the responsibility for preserving, sharing and celebrating the important heritage found in our 18th and 19th century architecture and encouraging the study and enjoyment of art and nature in this unique setting.

The village is open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on weekends for programs and events. The grounds are open dawn to dusk. The largest art show in Chester County is held here each spring as well as an antiques show in the fall. A jazz festival, children’s camps and many educational programs are held throughout the year. Check the website for dates. Self-guided walking tours and hiking trails are available; guided group tours are by reservation.

Historic Waynesborough

Waynesborough is a magnificent country manor house in the Georgian style located five miles from Valley Forge National Historic Park. Its most famous occupant was Major General Anthony Wayne (1745-1796), a Revolutionary War hero. Wayne served with General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, led the Pennsylvania Line in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown, weathered the Valley Forge encampment and fought on Monmouth. He was elevated to the status of national hero after his decisive victory in 1779 at Stony Point on the Hudson River.

After the war, Washington appointed Wayne first commander of the Legions of America (United States Army). He fortified and defended the western frontier against further encroachment by the British and Indians, and defeated the Indian nations at the Battle of Fallen Timers, thus opening the territory for settlement. Fort Wayne, Indiana and countless smaller towns, townships and counties in Pennsylvania and today’s upper Midwest bear his name as a stamp of his presence in those years. The nickname “Mad Anthony” for which he is remembered, was thought to have been earned by Wayne for his battlefield daring.

With the Paoli Massacre fought on its doorstep, Historic Waynesborough sustained little damage and was expanded over the centuries. This spacious farmhouse features General Wayne’s uniform, Revolutionary War maps and an impressive collection of three centuries of Wayne family furnishings. An introductory video shown in a converted carriage house tells the story of the Battle of Paoli.

Advanced reservations are required for tours and school field trips. Many aspects of the war, daily farm life, furnishings and silver, architecture and 18th century children’s life are explained. In addition, facilities are available for business conferences in the carriage house or weddings or other social functions on the grounds. Call for information, hours and fees.

Historic Kennett Square

Kennett Square may revere its past but there is much to do in the town today.

A leisurely walking tour through the town of Kennett Square’s historic district will give you the feel for what the borough was like 200 years ago. Travelers found the village a good place to stop, including Baron Wilhelm van Kynphausen and General Sir William Howell, who stayed one night before marching to the Battle of the Brandywine in 1777. Incorporated in 1855, the borough played an important role in the Underground Railroad and many of its prominent citizens helped and comforted slaves on their passage towards the North Star. The story of the Underground Railroad is on display at the History Station. This historic station began operations with passenger and freight service in 1859 and was a vital part of Kennett Square life for almost 100 years. Today, it is home to permanent and rotating exhibits regarding the major influences on the area.

Historic Kennett Square exemplifies the best of small town America. Many of the houses and buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It also offers plenty of cultural and recreational activities and combines elements of tradition with a commitment to revitalization. You can enjoy browsing, dining and shopping in the many delightful stores and restaurants. This is a wonderful place to visit and explore.

Be sure to check the Calendar of Events online. From First Friday Art Strolls, theatre in the park, mushroom festivals, candlelight holiday home tours and a holiday parade, there is something for everyone.

Hagley Museum

Located on 235 acres along the banks of the Brandywine River, Hagley is the site of the gunpowder works founded by E. I. du Pont in 1802. This example of early American industry includes restored mills, a workers’ hill, and the ancestral home and gardens of the du Pont family.

You will see exhibits and dioramas that document the Brandywine Valley’s early eras, look at the role of explosives in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century life, and provide an interactive tour of the DuPont Company’s history. A tour of the Powder Yard offers an in-depth look at the making of gunpowder. A restored machine shop brings you into the din of old metal-working tools operating with shirring belts and grinding wheels. Machinists explain what they do while they work. Workers’ Hill focuses on the social and family history of the workers who operated the powder mill. Costumed workers show what home life was like and a charming schoolhouse is part of the picture.

A highlight of the tour is the first du Pont family home built in America in a charming Georgian-style residence furnished with antiques, artwork and memorabilia from five generations of family. The Restored Garden is planted with flowers, herbs and vegetables in a traditional French style. The First Office of the DuPont Company is also located here with artifacts from the company’s earliest presidents.

The museum is open mid-March through December daily 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Winter hours are January through mid-March open weekends 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Guided tours on weekdays at 1:30 p.m. Admission fee. The Berlin House Restaurant serves lunch and snacks from mid-March through November.

Brandywine River Museum

The Brandywine River Museum is home to one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of works by N. C., Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth, three generations of artists who embody the family’s distinctive artistic legacy. Many familiar works, and many rarely on public view, are seen in regularly changing exhibitions. American illustration has deep roots in the Brandywine Valley, where Howard Pyle worked and taught such artists as N. C. Wyeth and Harvey Dunn. The artistic heritage also includes works by William Trost Richards, Jasper Cropsey, George Cope, William Michael Harnett, John F. Peto and many others.

Artistic works are exhibited in a Civil-war era gristmill converted into an outstanding art museum. The museum offers exceptional facilities and programs to enhance the visitor’s experience. The Restaurant, in a glass tower overlooking the Brandywine River, offers lunch and refreshments. The Museum Shop is known for its fine selection of books, posters, and reproductions and gifts. Outdoors, wild flower gardens – featuring plants native to the Brandywine Valley – surround the museum in glorious color from spring through autumn. Tours to the N. C. Wyeth House and Studio and the Kuerner Farm are also available. The museum is operated by the Brandywine Conservancy.

Brandywine Battlefield

Brandywine Battlefield is where General George Washington’s courageous troops battle the British, in the heat of September, 1777, for control of strategic territory near Philadelphia. It was the largest single day land battle of the American Revolution. Although the Americans were defeated at Brandywine, their courageous stand helped convince France to form an alliance with the rebels – a union which turned the tide in favor of the Americans. It was here that young General Marquis de Lafayette fought his first American battle.

The Brandywine campaign comes alive for today’s visitors as they walk through fascinating exhibits and dioramas in the Visitor Center. Two historic Quaker farmhouses, which housed officers during the battle and served as Washington’s headquarters, stand much as they did in 1777. Guides help visitors appreciate the effects of war on the citizens of the peaceful valley.

Picnic tables are available to visitors on 52 acres of rolling Delaware County countryside. This site is administered by the Brandywine Battlefield Park Commission in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. For information about visiting hours or special programs call 717 787-1019. Open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and Noon – 5 p.m. on Sunday. Closed on Monday. Closed Monday to Wednesday in December, January and February.

American Helicopter Museum & Education Center

Visit the home of America’s largest collection of helicopters. It is a one-of-a-kind experience. A great place for families, kids can climb aboard helicopters of all kinds for a truly unique hands-on experience. The museum’s display of over 40 civilian and military helicopters, autogiros and convertaplanes fascinates visitors of all ages. This is a museum of unique science and technology of rotary wing aviation with two of today’s three major helicopter manufacturers tracing their roots to the greater Philadelphia area.

The Museum features many of the earliest rotary aircraft including the prototype for the first mass-produced helicopter and the second successful helicopter to fly in the United States.

Appropriately, the Museum is located in suburban Philadelphia, where much of the earliest development of helicopters in the United States was centered. With its continually growing collection of documents, artifacts, films and memoirs, the Museum’s research library serves the nation as its single public source of rotary wing information.

Located just outside of West Chester, Pennsylvania, we are easily accessible from major routes. Call for additional information or to arrange to bring your group for a customized tour. Open Wednesday – Sunday.