Archival Adventures in Small Repositories
Moland House: Restoration of a Revolutionary War Historic Site
As I mentioned in my last blog post, History Affiliates is sponsoring a two-part workshop for establishing a maintenance program for historic museums, houses, and sites that begins January 17. Coincidentally, Celia and I recently visited an historic house that serves as an outstanding model and success story for other history and heritage organizations.
The Moland House, a two-story structure constructed in 1750 in Warwick Township, Bucks County, served as the summer home of John Moland, King George II's appointed attorney for Pennsylvania, and eventually as the home of Moland's wife after his death in 1761. (Moland's main home was a 150-acre estate in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia. Not too shabby.)
A kitchen was added to the house circa 1760
More significantly, the Moland House served as George Washington's headquarters during the Revolutionary War in August of 1777. A Council of War was held there on August 21st as British troops were planning to march towards Philadelphia. Several men who came to play a significant role in the newly-formed country's history, including Alexander Hamilton and James Monroe, attended the council.
Room in which the Council of War took place
It was also during Washington's stay at the Moland House that the Marquis de Lafayette, pivotal in his role as a general, and in his role in securing the support of the French government, came to join the Washington's army. Polish nobleman Count Casimir Pulaski, "Father of the American cavalry" also joined during this formative period of the war.
Like many other historic houses, the Moland House, rich in Revolutionary and Colonial-era history, fell into a state of disrepair. The Warwick Township Historical Society, which formed during the mid 1990s with the purpose of preserving and sharing the history of Warwick, agreed that their first priority would be to save and refurbish the house that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. In 1997, the Society entered into a management agreement with Warwick Township, which had received ownership of the house one year prior, to restore, maintain, and operate the facility for the benefit of the public.
The Society has since met and exceeded this goal through the efforts of extremely dedicated volunteers and supportive local, national, and international members and donors. The Society has raised and spent over a million dollars to restore, maintain, and share the rich history of the Moland House.
In sharing the history of the house, the Society has focused much of its efforts on educating schoolchildren and has fostered strong relationships with many area schools. For general audiences, the WTHS runs numerous programs, events, and guided tours of the house throughout the year.
Let's hope that the Warwick Township Historical Society has continued success, and that its story inspires other historic and heritage organizations!