Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pennsbury Manor

In 1682, William Penn came to America to "create a better world" on a 26 million acre tract of land, given to him by King Charles II, which he named Pennsylvania—literally, Penn's Woods—to honor his father.

Penn was Quaker and encouraged people of other faiths to settle in the new colony. He believed that all religions should be tolerated and all people should be respected—to the point where, although the acreage had been given to him, he paid for rightful ownership to the Lenni Lenape Indians who were the original inhabitants. Despite this, he owned African slaves, which seems at odds with his principles and religious beliefs.

He chose a piece of land on which to build his estate and named it Pennsbury Manor. Weavers, gardeners, beer makers, cooks, blacksmiths, and woodworkers kept the plantation running smoothly.

Our tour guide escorted us through the bedrooms, dining areas and kitchens in the main structure and explained that one room in particular was used as a pharmacy. If you had an ailment, herbs and other things were mixed together and used as remedies.

He said that if you had a sore throat, 3 items were crushed together in a mortar and pestle. Due to the unsettling image of the 3rd ingredient, the first two have completely disappeared from my memory.

"Dry white dog turds," combined with the other two elements, were blown into the back of the sick person's throat. Do you think it was a successful cure? I sure do. Who the heck would dare complain of a sore throat after that?

Pennsbury Manor fell into ruins in the early 1800s and by the turn of the next century, the land was completely devoid of all structures.

Archaelogists discovered the foundation in the late 1930s and the Manor was rebuilt through the WPA, by referring to William Penn's notes and drawings.

Other outbuildings were constructed, including the joyners' workshop, which is where my partner and I spent HOURS with Adam Cherubini and his fellow woodworkers in a two room building with very tall workbenches. Adam is 6' 6".

Adam invited us to use all of his tools: wooden brace (made by him) with spoon and shell bits (totally fun!); try, smooth, jack, and moulding planes; frame saw; and treadle and great wheel lathes.

He showed us how to cut a rabbet with just a chisel and demonstrated his techniques with various tools.

In the group photo, left to right, are Warren, Paul, Adam, and Dave—four woodworkers who spend their time poking fun at each other, giving demonstrations, and building things for the Manor, thus proving that the joyners have the best job on the estate.

Despite the rainy day, we had a fabulous time. If you plan to visit, take note that the joyners are in the shop the first Sunday of each month.


Bob Rozaieski said...

Looks like an awesome time! Sounds like you had a great visit. I have been meaning to get up there for years now. Several years ago, Adam offered me an invite to his house for the opportunity to use some of his tools and chat and learn and I wasn't able to visit him before we moved out of the area due to conflicting schedules, getting married and rebuilding a house. I have always regretted not making the time to take him up on his offer as he has been a huge influence on how I approach the craft. Now that we are back in the area and my kids are a little older and easier to accomodate on extended day trips away from home, I am going to try my hardest to get up to Pennsbury this season.

Larry Marshall said...

What a wonderful experience that must have been, Kari. Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us.

Cheers -- Larry

Unknown said...

Your posts are a delight to read. Keep them coming.

All the best,

Shazza said...

I'm sorry - I got stuck on dry white dog turds and cutting rabbits.

You are an odd one Kari!

Kari Hultman said...

Bob, I hope you are able to get to Pennsbury Manor AND Adam's shop sometime. He's very generous with his knowledge and tools.

Thanks, Larry and Chod!

Hey, lady, I'm just reporting what I saw and heard. hee hee

Woodbloke said...

Kari - looks like you had a great day out...hope you'll be sporting the appropriate threads now in your 'shop! - Rob

Unknown said...

As always, what an interesting post! It's especially interesting to me though, since my ancestors on my mother's side came to America with Penn some way or another. I never could figure out how though, since they were Danish. They were the Zanes of Wheeling,West Virginia and Zanesville, Ohio fame.

Kari Hultman said...

Rob, I doubt you will see me wearing an 18th c. dress in my shop, but you never know. If only there were female woodworkers back then....

Silverback, that's very cool about your family. Have you tried the National Archives to find out more information? My grandmother did that and traced our family all the way back to 15th c. Poland. I asked my partner (from WV) if she had heard of the Zanes, but she knows of the Zaines (with and "i). Any relation? You might know her family--the Gunnoes of Gunnoes Sausage.