When HPHA began the fund raising portion of our restoration of the Penrose-Strawbridge House, we took some time to reflect on restorations. Just why are we putting so much time, effort and money into the restoration of this property?
"Ditch the jargon, strip away the rhetoric and preservation becomes simply a matter of deciding that something is worth hanging on to. Maybe its an old barn or a big house with tall white columns or an ancient tree in the courthouse square ... Whatever it is, you realize that its disappearance would rob you of something important, so you decide to save it" July 2000 Preservation Magazine
When HPHA began the fund raising portion of our restoration of the Penrose-Strawbridge House, we took some time to reflect on restorations. Just why are we putting so much time, effort and money into the restoration of this property? We started this process in 1997, and if you drive past the National Historic Landmark Keith House at Graeme Park and up the gravel driveway to the house, you will see a big white home that needs some work.
We've done quite a bit already: stucco and paint, replaced windows, repaired and repainted the shutters, fixed the roof and the chimney, replaced the pent roof on one side of the house .. plus a lot more.
But we've still got work to do: uneven floors, interior paint, walls with no plaster, and on and on. - hey the interior is almost there!
Why not just tear it down and build something new? Horsham Township owns the building and the land and could do that.
Our expectation is that we will eventually put more money into this old house than it is probably worth - to some people anyway. There are other buildings that are older and more significant here in Horsham. Why not restore them? Is it because the Penrose and Strawbridge families are a big part of Horsham's heritage? Is it because the house is close to 300 years old and has withstood the test of time? Its connection to the history (and preservation) of Graeme Park and the Revolutionary War?
The Penrose Strawbridge House is a building that is special and unique. A building with much yet to be discovered about it. There is a mystery about the original one room building that wants to be solved.
And yes, they don't make em like this anymore! But maybe, finally, restoration is like H G Wells' Time Machine. A well restored or preserved building is a special experience that moves you back in time. It can transport you into the 1820's to let you experience what a Horsham Quaker farm was like and how the Penrose family lived. You and your children could be transported back 200 years to see the best of that time.
The Penrose Strawbridge House is something important. It is a monument to Horsham's farming past, our Quaker past, and finally Horsham's place in today's world.
... and its starting to look pretty sharp!