Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
History Quarterly Digital Archives

Source: October 1980 Volume 18 Number 4, Pages 128–130

Notes and Comments

Page 128


Easttown Township Takes Title to Waynesborough

In ceremonies last June, Waynesborough, the birthplace and home of General Anthony Wayne, held for more than 250 years by members of the Wayne family, was transferred to Easttown Township by Mr. and Mrs. O. W. June. The funds to purchase the historic property were raised by a local committee, called The Committee to Preserve Waynesborough, of which John G. Harkins Jr. and ELeanor Morris Illoway were co-chairmen. Contributions towards the purchase were received from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, foundations, corporations and businesses, patriotic and historic societies, and many individuals.

Speakers at the closing ceremonies included James Biddle, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Ed Weintraub, State Historic Preservation Officer, and Dr. Caroline Robbins, professor emeritus at Bryn Mawr College. Among others in attendance were several state, county, and township government officials, as well as several members of the Tredyffrin Easttown History Club.

At the ceremonies it was also announced that several historic documents and other artifacts had also been purchased and donated to be kept with the house, including Anthony Wayne's Commission, signed by George Washington; Wayne's certificate of induction into the American Philosophical Society, with the signature of Benjamin Franklin; Wayne's army coat; and several original deeds to the property.

Page 129

Upon acquisition of the property by the township, it was then leased to the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks, which will maintain and operate the house as a public museum.


Long Range Plans for Valley Forge Park

For the past several years the staff at Valley Forge Park has been engaged in an "environmental assessment" to develop a series of alternatives for the management and future use of the park.

While noting that the United States Congress, in establishing Valley Forge as a national park, had determined "That the restoration and strengthening of the historic integrity of [the] Valley Forge site should be the first priority", in this study recognition was also given to the recreational activities for which the park is now and traditionally has been used, to traffic patterns within the park, with existing roads that "are both confusing and dangerous" and carry heavy traffic that "intrudes on the historic buildings and the visitor experience", and to development surrounding the park and its impact on it.

Three alternatives were developed and presented for consideration in a series of public meetings over the past few months, with the suggestion that the final proposal might well combine elements from each of the alternatives.

Under the first alternative, the status quo or a "continuation of existing park management practices" would be emphasized. Historic structures would be preserved and protected, with elimination "wherever possible" of physical and visual intrusions, to restore the setting, but at the same time "nonconsumptive and spontaneous recreation could be allowed to take place in historically significant open space". New development would be kept to a minimum.

Under the second alternative, the primary emphasis "would be on the preservation and restoration of the historic scene to the encampment period of December 1777 to June 1778", with an ongoing restoration program, some clearing of forested areas and restoration of landforms. "Intensive recreational activities" would be concentrated in specific areas north of the Schuylkill River, and "nonintensive recreation" would be limited to only the periphery of the historical/cultural core area.

In the third plan, both historic structures of the emcampment period and later buildings and resources (including the observatory tower) would be retained, with adaptive use of historic structures stressed and the primary interpretive efforts at the major cultural sites. Recreational use would again be controlled, but not to the extent of the second alternative.

Page 130

In both the latter two plans, a number of roads within the park would be blocked off, with an intrapark mass transit system developed for transportation within the park and roads bypassing the park, site constructed to accommodate the through traffic.

Following the public hearings and further review by the park staff, it is expected, that the final proposal will be available for additional public comment in the summer/fall of 1981. It is also estimated that "the entire program may take ten years to develop" and to implement.

Valley Forge, incidentally, ranks seventh among all 320 U.S, national parks and monuments in the number of visitors each year.


Local Fiddlers Win National Twin-Fiddle Contest

Two young "yankee" fiddlers from Easttown Township — Palmer Turnburke, of Berwyn, and George Huhn, of Devon — won first place in the national twin-fiddling championship competition held at Fiddler's Grove in North Carolina this summer. Although both of them were graduates of Conestoga High School in the Class of 1975, they had not played together until just a few months before entering the national competition. Actually, from an early age, they both received training as classical violinists, and were "self-taught fiddlers" as a result of their attendance at various festivals.

Their winning performance included a selection of Irish waltzes and spirited old-time dance tunes, showing a versatility in their performance of both kinds of music that perhaps helped them beat out thirteen other pairs from all over the United States,

Despite their classical training, they both also play with local bands: Miss Turnburke with a 'group called Homespun, and Mr. Huhn with the Cedar Hollow String Band.


Strafford Resident First Women Party Chairman in Pennsylvania

The new chairman of the Pennsylvania State Republican Committee is Martha Bell Schoeninger of Strafford, the first woman to be elected chairman of either major political party in Pennsylvania.

Starting her political career as a precinct captain when she first moved to this area twenty-five years ago, she literally "worked her way up through the ranks". In 1975 she was named vice-chairman of the state committee after serving as a representative to it for several years. Commenting on her political philosophy, Mrs. Schoeninger has stated that she believes in an "emphasis on government at the local level, as opposed to big government" and in working "as a team, trying to produce for the citizen".


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