Morlatton Village has bridged the gap between old and new by updating the site with historic markings complete with smartphone shorthands.
Each of the site’s buildings is marked with signage complete with a detailed history, introducing local residents and visitors with the oldest buildings in the county. Larry Ward, a volunteer with the Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County, hopes that the markers will invite new visitors to take an interest in the roots of Berks County.
“The question I get most often is ‘what is this place and what happens here?’” Ward said.
The signs not only offer history, but provide QR codes, a computer generated code that allows visitors to connect to the Trust digitally on their smartphones at the site.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Trust, making their way into the 21st century.
The village was a bustling area in its prime and served as a place of rest for those travelling through to the City of Philadelphia during the 1700s. Located at 31 Old Philadelphia Pike, Douglassville, the village lines the Schuylkill River, tucked just behind the Douglassville Hotel.
Morlatton Village is made up of four 18th Century buildings, two which were built after the American Revolution. Complete with a store, tavern, meeting place and inn, the colonial village was a complete plantation.
The Mouns Jones House was built in 1716 and is the oldest standing structure in the county. The Bridge Keepers House was built around 1730, George Douglass Mansion was built in 1763 and the White Horse Inn was built in 1762. Douglass was the primary investor and entrepreneur in the village. The White Horse Inn served as the tavern, with a store being added around 1798. The buildings were equipped with a smokehouse, where they smoked pork on-site.
“It is hard to visualize it...even for people interested in history,” Ward said about the hustle, bustle and production of Morlatton Village. Signs now offer visitors with the opportunity to take a self-guided walking tour through the village. An additional sign indicates where the Douglassville Covered Bridge once stood, connecting one side of the river to the other.
The river served as the main artery for transportation. “The reason [Douglass] settled here was the river,” Ward explained. “It was the corridor to Philadelphia.”
Acquiring the physical signs has been a two-year process made possible through grants presented by Schuylkill River Trail and Greenway Association with matching private donations. Without support from the community through organizations and donations, the village would not be sustainable.
This summer, the Mouns Jones house is scheduled for restoration.
“The middle of the one wall is bulging, we can’t trust it to stay up,” Ward said.
Efforts to preserve historical entities run smoother with involvement from the community.
For further information on the Trust, visit historicpreservationtrust.org
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