Pennsylvania celebrates its founder's 350th birthday


March 06, 1994|By Dorothy Fleetwood | Dorothy Fleetwood,Contributing Writer

Philadelphia celebrates the 350th birthday of its founder, William Penn, during 1994 with yearlong festivities including events, exhibits and tours of sites associated with Penn. King Charles II of England gave the land that is now Pennsylvania to Penn as repayment of a debt owed to his father. The Colony was founded on the principles of individual rights and religious freedom. In 1682 Penn chose a 2-square mile area between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers as the site for the Colony's capital, which he named Philadelphia, a Greek word meaning "City of Brotherly Love."

He built Pennsbury Manor, his country "dream house," in Morrisville, 24 miles north of Philadelphia. He lived there a few summers between 1682 and 1701, and today the manor house looks exactly as it did when the Penn family was in residence.

Next Sunday is Charter Day, an annual statewide celebration that marks the granting of Pennsylvania's Colonial charter to William Penn. Many museums and historic sites throughout the state will be open free of charge in honor of the occasion, and Pennsbury Manor will be among them. The public is invited to a free, open-house celebration there from noon to 5 p.m. Visitors may tour the entire 43-acre plantation, its manor house and gardens, and see the farm animals. There will be living history interpretations re-creating 17th-century life at the manor, along with period-craft demonstrations, such as joinery, blacksmithing, flax processing, spinning, soap making and open hearth cooking, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The manor is just outside Tullytown in southeastern Bucks County. Take the Bristol-Route 413 exit off Interstate 95. Call (215) 946-0400.

Birthday tributes to William Penn are offered this week at the Philadelphia Flower Show, where one of the garden exhibits is dedicated to him. The flower show runs through next Sunday at the Philadelphia Civic Center.

At the Historical Society of Pennsylvania you can see portraits of Penn, a wampum belt said to have been given him by Leni-Lenape natives as a token of friendship, his chair, Bible and other artifacts, along with a model for his statue, which stands atop Philadelphia's City Hall. The society's current exhibit, "Crossroads: Center City Philadelphia," on view through July 23, includes the 1683 plan for the city by Penn's surveyor, Thomas Holme.

The Atwater Kent Museum in Philadelphia will sponsor a presentation on Hannah Penn March 24 at noon; a family walking tour of Penn-related sites in Philadelphia on April 16; and a historic tour of Pennsbury and Fallsington on May 14.

Some of the other highlights of the year include a lecture and historic plant sale at Bartram's Garden on April 29; a traditional corn-planting ceremony (of Penn's era) at the Museum of Indian Culture, May 1; a daylong bus tour of Delaware River sites loved by Penn (held in conjunction with Philadelphia Open House) on May 2; guided candlelight walking tours of Penn-related sites from Welcome Park, May through October; the Azalea Ball on May 14; and the William Penn Birthday Party and Fair at Arch Street Meeting House, Oct. 22.

For information, contact the Philadelphia Visitors Center, (800) 537-7676.

Maple festival in Virginia

A spring ritual of the early days in Highland County, Va., was "opening" the trees and boiling down the "sugar water." For two weekends, the 36th Annual Highland Maple Festival allows visitors a glimpse of maple-sugar production in a bygone era. Activities are scheduled Saturday and Sunday and March 19 and 20.

Sugar camps in the area welcome visitors. You can pick up a map of the sugar tour from the Chamber of Commerce booth inside the Highland County Court House at Monterey. The tour winds through the Blue Grass Valley (along Routes 637 and 640), a scenic area noted for its vistas of mountains and meadows. Stop at Rexrode's Sugar Orchard on Route 637, where you can see old-fashioned production as well as the newer method. Along the same route is Puffenbarger's Sugar Orchard, where the most modern equipment is used and you can buy maple doughnuts. North of McDowell is Eagle's Sugar Camp, which has been producing syrup for over 200 years. Another attraction is the Maple Museum, a replica of an old sugar house on U.S. Route 220 south of Monterey. It is open year-round, and admission is free.

Antiques and crafts exhibits will be set up at firehouses, schools and on the courthouse lawn in Monterey and at a firehouse and Ruritan building in McDowell. Jugglers, folk musicians, fiddlers, cloggers and others will provide entertainment each afternoon on the courthouse lawn in Monterey. Dances are also planned each night from 8 p.m. to midnight at the Ruritan Building in Blue Grass and on both Saturdays at the Stonewall Ruritan Building in McDowell.

Several places in the area will be serving pancakes and buckwheat cakes topped with maple syrup along with country sausage and bacon. Many will also feature Allegheny mountain trout.

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