@Styles.Render("~/Content/css2") Penrose Strawbridge 1721 Dining Room
Contact HPHA!

Horsham Preservation & Historical Association

...the Future of Horsham's Past

Penrose Strawbridge 1721 Dining Room

Dining Room - 18th Century Cabin

The Penrose Strawbridge House has a long history: for most of the 20th century it was the home to retired investment banker and horseman Welsh Strawbridge and his 2nd wife Margaret, and for 110 years before that it served as the home for several generation of the Penroses, but the first 90 years or so its history is less clear. We are pretty certain that the center portion of the home was likely built c1722-1737, by Governor Keith and probably before construction of the Keith House. There is some speculation that this structure may have originally been used as a distillery.

drawing of Penrose Strawbridge House with dates of construction

What remains of this one-time 18th century distillery is a one room cabin at the center of the house that we now call the 1721 Room or the Strawbridge Dining Room, and the basements. Mrs Strawbridge loved this room and used it as her formal dining room.

photo of 3 women with arms around each other behind dining table

One of the more striking features of this room is the large hearth which was likely used for cooking until at least 1856 when the final addition, which included a more 'modern' kitchen, was made to the rear of house. The mantle around the hearth includes small drawers - one for a bible and another to keep the gun powder dry. This hearth had been closed up by the Penroses, but Mrs Strawbridge is said to have had a fire going in this hearth every day, even during the summer.

photo kitchen hearth in 1712 room

The basement below this room has 2 large vaults or arches. The first vault, on the left or western side, is used to support the hearth and chimney. The 2nd vault is more of a mystery. This is used a doorway into the basement and has a brick floor above it, but isn't supporting a large load. Speculation is that this arch may have been used in the past to support something heavy like loaded barrels or distillation equipment. This, and the presence of an unusual cistern in this basement lead to speculation that this building may have one time been used as a distillery. There is an arch similar to, but smaller that the western arch in the basement under the 1810 part of the house (Penrose Room).

photo of arches 1721 Basement

Mrs Strawbridge was also fond of one of the doors to this room because it supposedly has 365 nails (we're taking her word for it) in the sign of the cross, and hinges which look like the letters "HL", often thought to meant "Holy Lord" and said to ward off evil spirits or the devil. (The Colonial Williamsburg Journal says the HL hinges served a more practical purpose, they are stronger than regular "H" type hinges and were needed to hold heavy wooden doors. (97))

The first floor has a plain post and lintel entrance door. The three windows on the first floor are not the same. One is a 6 by 6 sash, the other two are 6 by 9 sash windows. The center window may be the window from the original cabin.

photo of side door and new pent roof at the Penrose Strawbridge House

On the southern wall, adjoining the front of the house, is a closet under a winder staircase going to the 2nd floor. This staircase was probably added in 1830 when the 2nd floor addition was built. There had also been a winder staircase going down to the basement but this was removed and replaced with the closet, probably at the same time. Evidence of this staircase can still be seen in the basement.

photo of 1721 Room Winder Stairs

The closet and winder are built in front of what was probably a window, or at one time a door. This can be seen more clearly from the adjoining room, the Penrose Room. It is believed that the basement under this room, and perhaps this wall, are the oldest parts of the house, c1722. The 1810 addition on the front of the house was probably built on an existing foundation and may have used part of an existing structure, which this wall would be part of.

photo of 1721 Room Outside Wall

On the western wall there is a drawer under one of the windows. This was likely used as a cash drawer when paying the farmhands. The workers would come to the window and be give their wages.

This room, ironically since is nearly 300 years old, needed little restoration. We had the plaster repaired on the ceiling and walls and then repainted it

photo ceiling in 1721 room
x
pinterest button
Houzz
Penrose Strawbridge House Dates
drawing showing dates of construction for different sections of the Penrose Strawbridge Hous
drawing of Penrose Strawbridge House with dates of construction
x
pinterest button
Margaret 1721 Room
F__a Fagan, Madolyn Brugge from Florida, Margaret Strawbridge in the 1721 room
photo of 3 women with arms around each other behind dining table
x
pinterest button
Houzz
1721 Room Hearth
We opened up the hearth in the 1721 room for our summer picnic 2012.
photo kitchen hearth in 1712 room
x
pinterest button
Houzz
Arch 1721 Basement
Large archesin the basement under the dining room of the Penrose Strawbridge House. The archon the left is under the large open hearth cooking fireplace and chimney, but the purpose of the vault on the right is a mystery. Similar arches are in the basement under the 1810 section of the house
photo of arches 1721 Basement
x
pinterest button
Houzz
PS House Kitchen Door and Pent Roof Closeup
side door to the 1721 room and new pent roof on the east facade of the Penrose Strawbridge House
photo of side door and new pent roof at the Penrose Strawbridge House
x
pinterest button
Houzz
1721 Room Winder Stairs
Winder stair from 1721 room to the 1830 addition above. Used to be another winder going to the basement but this was removed and replaced with the closet seen here when they added central heat. Closet door features HL hinges.
photo of 1721 Room Winder Stairs
x
pinterest button
Houzz
1721 Room Wall
Margaret Choate in the Penrose Parlor showing what was originally a door, then later a window from the original c1722 room. This room probably pre-dated our 1721 Dining Room.
photo of 1721 Room Outside Wall
x
pinterest button
1721 Room Plaster Repair Ceiling
Ceilng of 1721 room in Penrose Strawbridge House
photo ceiling in 1721 room
Horsham Preservation and Historical Association
The Future of Horsham's Past
900 Governors Rd | Horsham, PA USA 19044
Email | 215-343-0659
All Pages and Content copyright ©2011-15 by Horsham Preservation and Historical Association