PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA
Landmarks participating in Charter Day include Graeme Park in Horsham, Pennsbury Manor in Morrisville, Hope Lodge in Fort Washington and Washington Crossing Historic Park in Washington Crossing (shown above).
By Megan Badger
Wire Managing Editor
Pennsylvania is rich in history.
And each year on Charter Day, people can experience the region’s many historic sites for free.
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission hosts Charter Day to commemorate Pennsylvania’s birthday, the day King Charles II granted the land that is now Pennsylvania to founder William Penn on March 4, 1681.
Charter Day, which takes place each year on the second Sunday in March, is celebrated by looking back at the history and heritage of the commonwealth.
In this area there is no shortage of historic sites. From Washington Crossing Park to Hope Lodge, Bucks and Montgomery counties are full of significant landmarks. On Sunday, March 10, each of these landmarks will participate in Charter Day by offering free admission and, in some cases, tours, reenactments and activities from earlier time periods.
Graeme Park, Horsham
Graeme Park and the Keith House, built in 1722, will be offering free tours on Charter Day. The self-paced tours will provide a brief history of the house, which some believe to be haunted by former resident Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson. The Keith House, the former home of Sir William Keith, is the only surviving residence of a colonial Pennsylvania governor.
Graeme Park is located at 859 County Line Road in Horsham. Tours will be available from noon to 4 p.m., with the last tour at 3:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.graemepark.org.
Hope Lodge, Fort Washington
The Hope Lodge mansion, adjacent to Fort Washington State Park, will offer guided tours and free admission on Charter Day. Samuel Morris, a Quaker entrepreneur, built the Hope Lodge between 1743 and 1748. The mansion is an example of early Georgian architecture and showcases decorating styles from two time periods: Colonial style and Colonial Revival style.
Hope Lodge no longer offers regular tours, except on Charter Day and during other special events. Hope Lodge is located at 553 S. Bethlehem Pike in Fort Washington. For more information, visit www.ushistory.org/hope.
Pennsbury Manor, Morrisville
Pennsbury Manor will celebrate Pennsylvania’s birthday with free admission and a day of historic demonstrations. Open hearth cooking, beer brewing, and joinery and blacksmith demonstrations will all take place on the property during Charter Day. There will also be actors performing The Voyage of The Welcome, a play based on the actual account of William Penn sailing on a ship called The Welcome. Tabitha Dardes, public relations director for the major, said the events will take place both inside and outside, and will continue rain or shine.
“We’re also holding a food drive to benefit the Penndel food pantry,” Dardes said. “Since it’s free admission, we’re asking people to bring non-perishable food items to help out.”
Pennsbury Manor is located at 400 Pennsbury Memorial Road in Morrisville. The manor will be open from noon to 5 p.m., with activities from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.pennsburymanor.org.
Washington Crossing Historic Park, Washington Crossing
Washington Crossing Park will host a grand opening celebration of its new $5 million visitors center to coincide with Charter Day. Washington Crossing Park was founded in 1917 to preserve the site from which General George Washington and the Continental Army crossed the Delaware River to make a surprise attack on Hessian troops at Trenton, N.J., in December 1776.
A temporary exhibit will be available to visitors and will feature the letter that George Washington wrote to Colonel John Cadwalader from the McConkey Ferry on Dec. 25, 1776 — from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania — as well as muskets, pistols and other American, Hessian, British and French military accoutrement, from the American Revolution Center, and the sign by Edward Hicks that hung on the Pennsylvania side of the Washington Crossing (formerly Taylorsville) bridge that was flooded in 1841, from the Mercer Museum.
Washington Crossing Historic Park Visitor’s Center is located at 1112 River Road in Washington Crossing. The park will be open to visitors free of charge from noon to 4 p.m., with the grand opening ceremony at 1:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.ushistory.org/washingtoncrossing.