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Archive for pennsylvania

The Mercer Mile

By Linda Tancs

In the heart of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is a tribute to archaeologist Henry Chapman Mercer. Known as the Mercer Mile in Doylestown, it’s an area comprising his three concrete landmarks: Fonthill Castle, Moravian Pottery & Tile Works and the Mercer Museum. Fonthill, a 44-room castle, was Mercer’s home, a National Historic Landmark with 32 stairwells, 18 fireplaces and 21 chimneys. An avid tile designer, he also founded Moravian Pottery & Tile Works, another historic landmark that functions as a “working history” museum and produces handmade tiles and mosaics in the same style as Mercer’s original designs. His love of early American craftworks is also evident at the Mercer Museum, housing artifacts representing 60 early American trades as well as large objects including a whale boat, stage coach and Conestoga wagon.

A Revolutionary Museum in Philadelphia

By Linda Tancs

The Battles of Lexington and Concord, fought on April 19, 1775, were the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War. In a fitting tribute to the “shot heard ’round the world,” today marks the opening of the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The day will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution in Washington Square, featuring the U.S. Army Old Guard and a blessing from the Oneida Indian Nation. At 10:30 a.m., an official dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony in the museum’s outdoor plaza will open it to the public. Inside you’ll find hundreds of documents, weapons, maps and paintings, a re-created privateer ship and General Washington’s original sleeping and office tent—among other treasures. Entry to the facility is by timed ticket.

Ice Boating in Erie

By Linda Tancs

Winter play abounds at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pennsylvania. Presque Isle is French for “almost an island.” Well…almost. Presque Isle actually has been an island many times over its 11,000-year history as storm waves broke through the neck to isolate the main section of the recurving sand spit. Jutting into Lake Erie, this migrating peninsula (still growing eastward at Gull Point) delights visitors during winter. For instance, the ice dunes are pretty formidable, built by the combination of lake ice, wave surge and freezing spray. And then there’s the ice boating with ice boats provided by the local yacht club. Ice skating? Sure thing. Got a kite? Then add wind skating to the list. And cross-country skiing, hiking and ice fishing, too. Now bundle up and get going.

Washington’s Only Surrender

By Linda Tancs

Fort Necessity National Battlefield is a national battlefield site in Fayette County, nestled in the Great Meadow in the Allegheny Mountains of southwest Pennsylvania. The battle at Fort Necessity in the summer of 1754 was the opening action of the French and Indian War, a clash among British, French and American Indian forces for control of a vast territory along the Ohio River between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi. The French and Indian War was the North American conflict in a larger imperial war between Great Britain and France known as the Seven Years’ War. George Washington, a 21-year-old military adjutant, volunteered as a British emissary to present notice to the French to quit their occupation of the Ohio River Valley. When the French refused to leave, Washington built his “fort of necessity” in a natural meadow while awaiting additional militia and British regulars. However, his bedraggled force was no match for the French column, and Washington ultimately surrendered to the enemy for the first and only time in his military career.

 

Japanese Woodworking in Pennsylvania

By Linda Tancs

Descended from samurai families, Spokane-born George Nakashima is recognized as one of America’s most eminent furniture designers. The George Nakashima Woodworker Complex, a National Historic Landmark located in New Hope, Pennsylvania, was his home until his death in 1990. The 12-acre complex has 21 buildings, all designed by Nakashima in the International Style infused with elements of traditional Japanese architecture. His brand of “organic naturalism” showcases the wood’s natural beauty in items such as table lamps, dining tables, wall units, desks and chairs that are coveted by collectors worldwide. The complex is open to visitors on Saturdays, and admission is free. Visitors may see examples of his work in the showroom and Conoid Studio and take a self-guided tour of three of the buildings.

Legendary Guitars in Pennsylvania

By Linda Tancs

Through six generations, Martin Guitar‘s legendary heritage has helped create music history. Located in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, their museum boasts a treasure trove of over 170 exquisitely crafted guitars that parallel the company’s history. A guided factory tour starts in the lobby of the Visitors Center, which houses the entrance to the museum. Their one-hour tours follow a guitar from rough lumber to a finished product, an endeavor requiring more than 300 steps to complete. Public and group tours are available Monday through Friday.

Second Life for Historic Ocean Liner

By Linda Tancs

In 1952, the SS United States took its maiden voyage to Europe and broke the transatlantic speed record. Over 100 feet longer than Titanic, it was the ship of choice for a who’s who including the likes of Marlon Brando, Salvador Dali, Grace Kelly and four U.S. presidents. Retired from active service in 1969, the ship has been moored in South Philadelphia since 1996. Now owned by a conservancy group, the old gal is being readied for a comeback thanks to Crystal Cruises. The luxury line recently announced plans to resurrect it as a 400-suite, 800-passenger ocean liner.

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