Recently Nancy Roberts, President of the Quakertown Historical Society took me on a tour of the three buildings maintained by the Society. These buildings are links to original Quakertown during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Two of them, Liberty Hall and the Burgess Foulke house, are important historical landmarks. The other building, the Marketplace, is a converted barn. I was impressed by the tender loving care that has main-tained the historical integrity of the buildings. Nancy's leadership was evident in her commitment to the sites and to the mission of the society.The properties are owned by the borough of Quakertown and maintained jointly by the borough and the members of the historical society. Each is climate controlled and houses many historical artifacts, most of which were donated by persons interested in preserving local history.
Liberty Hall, located at 1237 West Broad Street near the intersection with Main Street, was built prior to the Revolutionary War. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its landmark on West Broad Street is a replica of the Liberty Bell. Liberty Hall is considered to be the oldest building in Quakertown. The site is believed to have been a hiding place for the Liberty Bell when it was taken from Philadelphia for safe-keeping in Allentown in September, 1777. The stone building would have been attached to a two-room log house in back. The one room on the first floor was in use well into the twentieth century as a store and as a barber shop before it was acquired by the Borough of Quakertown for the use of the Society. Liberty Hall will be decorated in Williamsburg style this Christmas.
A more imposing building is the Burgess Foulke House, which is located at 26 North
Main Street, near the intersection with West Broad Street. Originally built by Edward Foulke, Sr., a member of the original Welsh Quaker settlers in Richland Township, the house was owned by Edward Foulke, Jr, when he was elected as the first Chief Burgess of Quakertown when Quakertown was incorporated in 1855. The term "chief burgess" was the original title for the municipal officer whose present title is "mayor."
This stone house, which was built in 1812, originally stood at the intersection of Route 309 and Trumbauersville Road. When the property was purchased for construction of the Village Square shopping center in 1974 the home was slated for demolition. The Quakertown Historical Society raised $40,000 to move it to its present site and placed on a lot donated by Dolores and William Amy. The building was moved so carefully that the only damage to it in transit was the breakage of two window panes. Photographs of the house as it was moved to its present site are displayed in the basement.
The house is of Federal style with a center stairway. Many artifacts which have been donated to the Society are displayed in the rooms on the three floors of the house. The religious orientation of the early occupants is shown by the interiors of the doors, where the design is of a cross and an open Bible. A prominent feature of the first floor is a walk-in fireplace. During the nineteenth century there was no central heating, so fireplaces were necessary for warmth. Several years ago Bucks County Community College conducted an archeological dig of the Moore pottery, and the remnants of redware pottery found in the dig are displayed. Each room has the appropriate furniture for its era.
The Marketplace, the third structure, is a former barn which has been remodeled to serve as a meeting hall and repository for historical artifacts. An old (1902) automobile built in Quakertown is on display. A wagon that had been used when a wagon train passed through Quakertown in the bicentennial year of 1976 is part of the exhibit. Over the years the Society has collected resources for historical research. The upstairs meeting room can be used as a dining room and for fund raising activities.
These historic buildings serve a direct educational mission. For example, fourth grade students in the Quakertown Community School District tour the historic area as part of the social studies curriculum. The Burgess Foulke House and Liberty Hall are important stops on the tour.
Anyone who owns and older house is aware of the amount of care that goes into maintaining your home. Imagine keeping up three old structures while preserving the historic integrity of the homes. That is the task that Nancy has assumed in her work with the Quakertown Historical Society. Officers are Nancy Roberts, President; Bruce Savitz, Vice President; Faye Wagner, Secretary; and Nancy Ackerman, Treasurer. The Society meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. in the Marketplace. For information call 215-536-3298.
Dr. Robert Leight is a member of the Quakertown Community School District Board of School Directors, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.