Sunday, April 29, 2012

Save the Date for Senior Seminars

We've added a Senior Seminar Series to our calendar on October 3-4. In  the 18th Century Elizabeth Graeme invited her friends to her home for evenings of  poetry, music, and learned discussion.  She called these gatherings "Attic evenings," referring to the Greek region of Attica and the classical Athenian tradition of thinking and enlightenment.  The Friends of Graeme Park are continuing the tradition into the 21st Century by inviting you to Elizabeth's home for two days of lectures, seminars, and discussions on a wide range of topics. Breakfast, lunch, and tours of the house and property will also be included. We're still working on the details of the speakers and topics, and will have an update soon, along with the costs and times.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

WWII Weekend - Revised Schedule

Hello all! We're coming up on the WWII Weekend next weekend - it's supposed to be beautiful weather, so please plan on coming out for a great time with lots to do and see. The schedule has been tweaked a little since we last published it here and in our Graeme Park Gazette Newsletter, so please go by the schedule below to make sure you don't miss a thing!

Saturday, May 5

10:00 - Tour camps & Keith House, shop with Sutlers
11:15 - War Stories with WWII Vet Herb Levy (Normandy Beach; Battle of the Bulge)
11:40 - Senator Stewart Greenleaf
11:50 - State Rep Todd Stephens
12:00-1:45 - Battle Reenactment - American & German Troops
2:00-3:00 - Society Music Makers Swing Band
3:00-4:00 - Tour camps & Keith House, shop with Sutlers

Sunday, May 6

10:00 - Tour camps & Keith House, shop with Sutlers
11:45 - State Rep Tom Murt
12:00 - War Stories with WWII Vets Alex Horanzy & Mario Chairolanza (Pearl Harbor) 
1:00 - Military Honor Guard Flag Presentation
1:15-2:00 - Tour camps & Keith House, shop with Sutlers

Also there will be plenty of delicious food to purchase, so don't worry about being here during lunch. We've planned a menu of sausage and pepper sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, hot dogs, fresh soft pretzels, baked goods, soda, water, coffee, and I believe donuts for our morning arrivees.

Admission cost is $10/teens & adults, $5/kids 12 and under, and free for WWII vets.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Happily Ever After?

On December 7, 1771 Elizabeth’s friend Benjamin Rush brought a Scotsman named Henry Hugh Fergusson to one of her attic evenings. Well-educated and handsome, Henry did not own property, nor was he in a position to inherit any. This, and their age difference (he was 11 years younger than she) made him a bad match in the eyes of her father, Dr. Graeme. After a brief, clandestine courtship, the couple married at Old Swedes’ Church on April 21, 1772, without the knowledge of Dr. Graeme. Dr. Rush attended the wedding, which was held outside in the garden. It was said that after the ceremony Elizabeth stumbled on a grave and one of the guests wrote that it was an “ill omen for the future,” which indeed it proved to be.

After the wedding, Henry returned to Scotland on family business while Elizabeth continued on in her father’s home. She planned to tell him of the marriage one day in September and while she watched from the window, Dr. Graeme fell, apparently of a heart attack, and never regained consciousness. He died a few days later on September 4, 1772 never knowing Elizabeth’s secret.

In November of 1774 Elizabeth wrote “An Advertisement” after Henry was to spend the day in Philadelphia and remained away for a week without telling her where he was or when he was coming home. While we have no images of Henry, Elizabeth describes him in the poem as tall, blue eyed, with light brown hair and dimples, and while she seems smitten with his appearance, does note that he is somewhat careless about her feelings and doesn’t always look others in the eye. She seems to excuse these flaws as having to do with his youth and feels his virtues outweigh them and that he’ll mature and outgrow his vices. The reference to "Laura" is to Elizabeth; Laura was the pen name she often chose.

Lost, Strayd, or Stollen, from my arms!

Which fills my mind with boding harms;
A Swain, for Husband suits not Rhyme
Yet sure I am that he is mine
As fast as holy Priest can bind
He to his Laura firm is joind!

His height above the common Size!
His look not Simple nor onwise!
Health Blooms vermillion on His Face
Where native Innocence you trace:
His eyes the true Cerulean Blue

But seldom raise to meet your view;
His mouth, But here I know I’m vain
For there a thousand graces Reign
When e’er he smiles sweet Dimples play
Mild as the southern Breath of May!
His Hair the palest Brown just shades
The Brow, and his Complexion aids.

This Modesty– I there may dwell
For sure in that he does excel,
But yet a certain careless air
Makes all His merit seem less fair

A kind of apathy is joind
With Indolence of Mien combind!

(The following stanzas are other fragments of the above poem, in no order)

His years too few, I wont them tell
The numbers would not sound so well,
If eer the writer should be known
At least I would conceal my own.
But let that little Error pass
I cant forget I keep a Glass!

Yet that assiduous air to please
That Joy to give to others ease
Which tender Friendship ever Claims
And points with order all our aims
I think you do not find my Swain
Within this Breast all that retain
And tho not void of Social Love
He often does regardless prove.

But time these finer flaws will cure
Mean while His virtues stand Secure
Like paintings by an artist done
Advance in worth as years Roll on

During the Revolution Henry served with the British, and as a result Elizabeth’s home and property were confiscated. Most of her personal property was sold at auction and she was allowed use of a small portion of her furniture and paid rent to continue living in her ancestral home while it was prepared for sale; the remaining household goods to be sold at the same time. Henry returned to England, and while he wrote occasionally the first few years, was never to be reunited with his wife. To learn the outcome of the story and the fate of Graeme Park, why not stop by for a tour? We’re here Fridays—Sundays.

(The previous, with the exception of the text of "An Advertisement," was printed in the April-June, 2011 Graeme Park Gazette)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Gone but Not Forgotten: The Joseph Kenderdine House

It stood on the corner of Keith Valley and Davis Grove Roads for some 277 years, originally providing shelter for Joseph Kenderdine and his family who built and operated the mill on the opposite corner. The success of the mill meant the opening of Keith Valley and Davis Grove Roads so as to provide the local farmers with easier access to the mill, and the increasing circumstances of the family meant the enlarging of the home by a later generation, when the piece to the left was added on, more than doubling the space. The house is part of the Kenderdine Mill Complex which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. Part of the description of the house in the nomination form reads as follows:

Its easternmost portion shows the steep roof pitch of pre-Georgian design. Its massive corner fireplace and winder stair are typical of early eighteenth century plans as well. Although the stair has been replaced on the first floor, it survives on the second floor into the attic. In the basement, the timbers of that early portion of the house are hewn and pit sawn, corroborating the antiquity of the forms and the plan. The house was enlarged with a two room deep "two thirds Georgian" Federal wing in the early nineteenth century, probably at the time that the mill was sold to Shay. Federal mantels, door and window surrounds, and chair rails establish the period of the addition while the old, single room house became the hall and kitchen...Both the mill and the early house show the character of the early eighteenth century, only a decade after the completion of nearby Graeme Park. The later Federal addition....[is] graced by mantels and trim which show the influence of Benjamin Latrobe's work in Philadelphia and mark the evolution of local building from craft to design.

When the mill was sold in 1810 to John Shay, the house was parcelled off to remain in the Kenderdine family while the Shays built an impressive stone farmhouse on the opposite corner and continued the operation of the milling business. It was most likely around this time that the enlargement of the original house took place. The land around the Kenderdine House continued to evolve through the 20th century, the dirt roads that provided access to the mill were eventually paved, the township built a large multi-use park across the street, a few more modern houses became its neighbors and a golf course became its back yard. The old sycamore by its front door, probably as old as the house, continued to grow, the house began to decline.

Not properly mothballed, water and animals were allowed to infiltrate, the once handsome Federal trim around the doors began to peel and separate from the walls, the window glass got broken, the shutters fell off one by one and vines crept up the masonry walls, digging their roots into the soft limestone stucco and the mortar that glued the stones together.

On Monday, April 16, 2012 Commonweath Country Club, the owners of the c. 1735 Joseph Kenderdine House, tore it down. The backhoes were still moving the earth around on Friday morning when the below photo was snapped, but give it a little more time, some grass seed, and the Commonwealth landscaping crew, and you'll never know it was there, save for the old sycamore keeping watch over his longtime companion's buried stone foundation.

The remainder of the Kenderdine Mill Complex -- the 1734-35 mill with mid-19th century addition, the early 19th c. Shay House, and the mid-19th c. carriage barn -- are all beautifully preserved and adapted for modern living and under different ownership. Hopefully they will continue on for a long time as an enduring testament to the Kenderdines and the Shays and the early industrial, architectural, and developmental history of Horsham Township. The National Register nomination lists the significance of the complex as:

An example of a remarkably well preserved, industrial complex surviving on its original site and dating from the first years of the settlement of Pennsylvania. Its evolution over more than a century denoted the continuing agricultural heritage of south-eastern Pennsylvania. Its construction stimulated the opening of many of the roads of the region including the Horsham Road, Keith Valley Road, and Davis Grove Road which made it possible for local farmers to reach the mill....the complex of buildings display the characteristics of the evolving architectural character of the region from the primitive Colonial buildings of the early eighteenth century towards the sophisticated Federal designs of the early nineteenth century.

A now an early piece of this history is gone.

For more information on the Kenderdine Mill Complex, see this article, information for which was taken from the National Register nomination, and the recent real estate listing, which shows that careful stewardship and sensitive adaptation can make these old buildings as liveable and useful today as they were to their earlier inhabitants.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

World War II Weekend Preview

Don't forget we have a World War II encampment and mock battle coming up the weekend of May 5 and 6. We've just confirmed the headliner band as the Society Music Makers, who are a 17-piece big band. You may have seen them locally at one of the "concert in the park" series in the area. They will be performing in the big, newly landscaped event tent on the grounds of Graeme Park at 2:00 pm and visitors can sit around a table and enjoy the music or take to the dance floor and show off their lindy or their jive moves.

Opening for the Society Music Makers at 1:30 pm will be the Fubar Boys, who are members of the 9th Division WWII Preservation Society. They're sure to have you remembering the good ol' days and toe-tapping along. You can view sample videos by linking to their site or this one from YouTube, below.

We didn't get any video of last year's reenacted battle, but this one from Fort Indiantown Gap involves a lot of the same units and was taken in 2010. Feel free to skip ahead - it's loooong, but better quality than most.

For the full schedule, see our previous post here.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Garden Path


Things have been progressing nicely with the landscaping around the Open Aire Affairs tent. The sides of the new gravel path have been graded with dirt and seeded and the beds around the entrance to the tent have been planted with two small ornamental trees (not sure yet what they are), some ornamental grasses and some small, white flowering bushes (again, not sure yet of the specific plant varieties).

The rear of the tent has also been fancied up with red gravel around the existing trees, which were cleared out and cleaned up last year. Around the trees a bunch of rhododendrons have been planted and they should grow fairly large and fill in the area nicely with color and greenery. Further back a screen of forsythia will help disguise some of the brambles and additional seeding has been done in the areas where it looks like it is just dirt, so that should grow in nicely and give us a bright green lawn area back there too.

Friday, April 6, 2012

First Friday Fotos - April 2012

Believe it or not it's April already, and you know what that means - time for First Friday Fotos. Things are looking a little more green today, with whatever that plant is growing in the corner of the near bed seeming to perk up and start growing a bit, although his cabbage friend that's appeared in previous photos is gone. It should be time to start planting soon, and we should start seeing some real progress out there. The photo was snapped around 8:30 this morning.

Just for fun we're adding a quarterly wrap-up so you can see all of the shots in one place, or if you want to see them full-sized you can link to January, February, and March by clicking on the links. I think so far January is my favorite.

Path Progress

So here is the path with the gravel and they've also put in a small paver entrance and marked out where new planting beds will be going in on either side of the glass doors.

Our Path is Clear

With the nice weather we've been having, Open Aire Affairs has been able to get started on the new gravel path that will connect the wedding and party tent to both the back door of the Visitors' Center and the existing macadam pathway that leads to the parking lot and the Keith House.

They've removed the sod, laid weed-blocking landscape fabric, and put in the edging. They're working right now on raking in the red pea gravel that will compose the path, so we'll hopefully have a completed path to show you shortly. The plan with the edging is to bank dirt along the outside and reseed so that we'll be able to drive over the path to access the barn ramp and provide a more natural transition. Our first wedding of the season is scheduled for June 16.
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