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Source: July 1941 Volume 4 Number 3, Pages 53–59

The re-creation of Penn's Manor : Pennsbury : Part II

Page 53

The southeast third floor room in the Manor House has been left unplastered in order to show the sturdiness of construction typical of the times.

All paneled doors have been made with the moulds worked on the solid and not applied.

That some of the buildings at Pennsbury were roofed with shingles is learned from the following:

Pennsylvania Journal Vol. 1 - 1720-1736 - H.S.P.
Philadelphia - 2 mo. 3rd - p. 191

Pennsbury Dr. paid xxx

Paid for 2650 shingles £ s. d. 5.6.6.

Also that cedar boards were used. Page 191, 21st of June 1736, Pennsbury Dr. paid to Robert Field for Cedar Boards and Nails
£ s. d. 10.9.10.

The same expense account shows the following:

£ s. d.
Paid John Gale for Smiths Fork at Bristol 3-12
and Richard Parker for 4 locks 15-6

All doors have the rails tenoned through, the stiles exposing the end grain of the rails at the edges of the doors and with pins to secure the joints also as was the custom. All batten doors are made with a dove tailed batten and brace let into the vertical boards.

Split oak lath have been used for all plastered interior walls and ceilings and the plastering is done with lime and sand and cattle hair.

The stairway detail has been copied from a portion of an original stair that is still in place in the Biles house, which is up the river from Pennsbury, and was built in 1726.

It is not unlikely that Biles, who was a prominent man in the community and well to do, copied his stairway, when he built his house, from what he had seen in the house of his distinguished neighbor, William Penn.

Note: There is interesting correspondence in which Penn states he is anxious to acquire some of Biles land, which William Penn feels encroaches upon his property to an undesirable extent.

In correspondence between William Penn and James Logan, Vol. 1, page 1, H.S.P., 1870, page 60, copy of a paper entitled "A catalog of Goods left at Pennsbury the 3rd of the 10th month 1701", we are given a list of the second floor bed rooms, substantiating the number of rooms that our plan provides, as follows:

Page 54

In the Best Chamber
In the next chamber
In the next chamber
In the nursery
In the next chamber
In the garretts
In the lower rooms
Best Parlor
In the other parlor
In the little Hall
In the Great Hall
In the closet and best chamber
In the kitchen

In the garretts, four bed steads and two beds could readily refer to two extra beds in one or two of the four rooms. We believe furnishings of certain of the rooms had been sent to Mr. Penn in England for his use there which accounts for the above enumeration of rooms not being complete.

Penn's old Brewhouse


The excavations at the Bake and Brew House, under Dr. Cadzow's supervision, resulted in finding very definitely the brick foundations of the outer walls of the building, also the foundations of two large chimneys. In addition indications of the ripening vat in the malt room and one of the iron hoops that evidently had been on the cedar vat. Near the southwest corner of the malt room they also found a brick formed floor drain with an outlet leading toward the outside of the building.

Also in the northeast corner of the wash room a portion of the floor was of brick on edge and with the top surface of the brick above the level of the apparent level of the balance of the floor. The same construction as this occurs in "The Sisters House" at the Ephrata Cloister in Ephrata, and it is said was used to pile the fireplace wood on.

Page 55

Such a raised floor would provide place for wood where it could be kept dryer and the brick on edge made a more durable base than if the trick were laid flat, as in the balance of the floor.

There are in existence, steel or wood cuts of the west wing of the Bake and Brew House showing the appearance of this portion of the building, and it is from these existing pictures that the present elevations have been worked out.

The position of the iron vat hoop when found in excavating gave the depth of the vat in the brew room and this depth has been followed in the restoration.

For the balance of the interior arrangement of the malt room and the brew room, an old employee was found in the Adam Scheidt brewery, in Morristown, who knew exactly how such a brewery should be arranged. By consulting this master brewer, it has been possible to build an entirely workable brewery and to retain in their exact original locations the chimney, vat, ground floor level, floor drain, etc., as well as the apparent dimensions of each of the two rooms.

William Penn in writing his instructions regarding the bake and brew house says the following:

19th 3rd mo. '85 - "A kitchen, wash house, brew house, stable will be wanted, but I know how to shift."

24th 2nd no. '86 - Vol. 10 p. 26 - Penn Papers "Let there be good out house for servts kitchen, wash house, stable, etc."

17th 9th mo. '86 - Vol. 10 p. 2 0 - "A better kitchen would do well, milk house, stable, etc. but all by degrees."

Worm. 17th 9th mo, '86 - Vol. 10 p. 20 - "If you build anything let their be low lodgings over heal; yt is of 8 foot high, be it stable, kitchen, etc. & be sure it be in uniformity and not ascu from the house."

London 18th 1st mo. 1684-5 - Vol. 9 p. 10 - "I would have a kitchen, two larders, a wash house & room to Iron in, a brew house & in it an oven for bakeing & a stable for twelve horses, 4 foot 8 inches each horse stand. Thes rooms ye demensions I told F F. Gibbs & all but ye stables 9 foot high & thos 11 foot & over head, half story. What you can do with bricks do; what you cant do it with good timbers, & case them with clapbord about five foot which will serve other things, & we can brick it afterwards."

London 25th 8th mo. 1685. "Let him wainscoat and make tables & stands for some of ye Rooms, but cheifly help on wth our out houses, because we shall bring much furniture."

Thos. Penn - Phila. Nov. 25, 1736, "The kitchen house was very open so that the servants who look after the plantation could not live warm and dry, which made me think it absolutely necessary to be at some small charge to ment their House."

Undated - "how farr have you advance with ye out housen, how & of what built, ye demsions & how they stand to ye house."

Page 56


The barn has been reconstructed on the site of and to the size of the original building, some walls of which were standing a foot or two above the ground and in some parts footings only. These old walls suggested the type of plan that has been followed which provides a barn floor forming a drive way through the building from north to south in the centre and stabling on each side of this central barn floor. This scheme of plan suited exactly the number of stalls Penn suggests in his letter as quoted above and also the width of each stall (4'-8") as per letter above.

The foundations also suited stalls of the proper length with the front feeding entry and the back entry as they have been built. The ceiling height requested by Penn as per above letter has been followed.

No tile or tile fragments having been found at the barn site, it is assumed that the barn has a shingle roof.

For the sake of economy and in order that the estimates on the entire project would not exceed the money appropriated, one side of the stable has been temporarily used as an office. It is proposed eventually to erect an administration building and to put stalls in the east side of the present barn, also it is intended to erect the other farm buildings and out buildings necessary to care for the dairy cows, sheep, pigs, poultry, etc., Penn speaks of.

Penn wrote that a suitable well be provided at a convenient location from the barn. There is an old dug well with the stone walls partially intact near the east end of the barn which it is assumed is the one that was provided as Penn requested.

London, 18th 1 mo. 1684-5 - Vol. 9, p. 10.

"be sure that you have a large & convenient well or else pump for the several offices; yt being better because of children, etc."

London, 7th 9th mo. '85.

"I like the contrivance about ye barn, & am glad to hear ye Indian field bore so well, lay as much down with hay dust as thou canst & clear a way ye wood up ye river to open a prospect upwards as well as downwards."

11th 5th mo. '85.

"I hope care is had of my mares, my bay and two white ones & their colts. I intend two or three mares & a fine hors when I come x x x a good dairy my wife will cark and love, for swine perhaps wo may buy as cheap as breed but poultry is comnenable & useful x x Pray lett there be a good convenient Pomp at a little distance from ye house towards ye out housen."

That a dog wheel for churning had been in use and is to be sent to England is learned from the following:

Logan Papers - Vol. 1 corresp. page 14 - Hannah Penn to James Logan. "and pray send by ye first Boat the Dell boards from Jno. Parsons, & our dog wheel."

Page 57

The fact that the Manor House had rain water down spouts and consequently gutters of some kind at the roof is established from the following:

19th 3rd mo. 1585 - Vol. 10 p. 12.

"Pray be carefull ye spouts wrong not ye foundation"

The down spouts evidently were to be drained away from the building or were to have proper drip stones at the base of each spout that would keep the roof water from the foundations.

From the Diary of Elizabeth Drinker an interesting description is had of the lintel over the front door:

Elizabeth Drinker - 1797 Sept. 20th.

"Reviewed the ruins of that ancient Pile. Some of the very thick walls still remaining and the Lintel that was over the door lays near the ruins dated 16 W P 83 scarcely legible."

If in 1797 the lettering and figures on the lintel were "scarcely legible" it is reasonable to assume it was of wood of some sort rather than of stone as lettering on stone would likely have remained distinct for a longer period than 100 years.

This assumption is made more likely from the fact that the Lintel from the Phineas Pemberton House built in 1687 on bank of the Delaware opposite Oreclans Island and removed in 1700 to his farm called Pemberton is of oak rather than of stone.

The Pemberton lintel is in the Historical Society, 13th & Locust Streets, Philadelphia.

The colors used for the interior painting of the Manor House were decided upon after consultation with Mr. Horace Lippincott and Mr. John P. B. Sinkler. Mr. Sinkler had made a careful study of many of the old buildings in Fairmount Park as to colors, etc., and he is also familiar with the interiors of the earlier buildings in Philadelphia. He made two trips to Pennsbury, spending several hours with the Contractor's Painter supervising the mixing of the several colors and considering the relation of each room to the other in order to get a pleasing effect that would not jar in any way.

The tile in the fireplace facings were duly considered in the color selection and in studying the above referred to Biles House from which Pennsbury's main stair has been patterned we found several original paint colors which were also helpful in arriving at a decision.

In writing the above all references in correspondence to the gardens, orchards, planting, fences, the barge, etc., has been omitted awaiting the further completion of the grounds and certain necessary out building, farm buildings, etc.

Page 58

* From the first page of part one of this article (Volume 4 Number 2 Page 3)

Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, California.

Yale University Library, New Haven, Connecticut.

Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, D. C.

Library of Congress, Division of Manuscripts, Washington, D. C.

Harvard College Library, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Mrs. Caroline Davis Hall, The Chalfonte, Cape May, New Jersey.

Princeton University, The Library, Princeton, New Jersey.

William Helburn, 15 East 55th Street, New York, N. Y.

The New York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, N. Y.

The New York Public Library, 5th Ave. & 42nd Street, New York, N, Y.

The Pierpont Morgan Library, 29-33 East 36th Street, New York, N. Y.

Mrs. Warren S. Ely, Genealogist, 326 East State Street, Doylestown, Pa.

Mrs. Harry Johnson, Fallsington, Pa.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Public Instruction, State Library, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Friends Historical Association, Mrs. Lydia Flagg Curmero, Pres., 791 College Ave., Haverford, Pennsylvania.

Mrs. Marianna Cadwallader Franklin (Mrs. Malcolm), 3 Griffin Lane, Haverford, Pa.

Mr. Lowell Gable, Paoli, Pennsylvania.

The Welcome Society of Pennsylvania, Mr. Henry Paul Busch, Pres., 1006 Spruce St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach, 2006 Delancy Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Mrs. Emily Campbell, Chester County Historical Society, Library Building, State Teachers College, West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Lady Constance Milnes Gaskill, 47 Pont Street, London, S. W., England.

Central Offices of the Society of Friends, Friends House, Fuston Road, London, N.W.1.

Mrs. Claire Okie Cox, 12 Clarges Street, London.

Page 59

Department of Prints and Drawings, British Museum, London, W.C.I.

Historical Manuscripts Commission, Public Record Office, Chancery Lane, London, W.C.2.

Public Record Office, Chancery Lane, London, W.C.2.

Miss A. May Olser, 30 Museum Street, London, W.C.1.

Enlarged sketch of drawing on Surveyor's plan of Pennsbury in 1736


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