Intern Reflections: Sailing in Style

Pennsbury Manor’s interns have been hard at work researching new stories for our 75th anniversary. As they continue to explore Pennsbury’s history, we’ll be sharing their reflections on what they’re discovering!

Over the past two months, I have been searching through the archives of Pennsbury Manor. My mission is to find points of interest that would help me in my proposal for a 75th anniversary exhibit. I must admit, the first time I looked through the archives I was overwhelmed. There were so many papers, maps, charts, and photos to look through that at times I have felt like I was going to drown with information!

Penn's Barge, 1982


But I have discovered some gems, and one of these gems is the Barge. A reproduction based on Penn’s original description, it’s currently located in an open shed right outside the Visitor Center. I noticed in following tours of the site, the barge was often glossed over, and I found myself doing the same in my own tours.  So I decided to focus much of my research on this fascinating boat. 

What I found really surprised me. The barge, which was completed in 1968, spent much of the late 70s and early 80s touring various museums and historical site as an important interpretation symbol of 17th century transportation. People even had the chance to use the boat in the water. I found dozens of documents detailing requests from other institutions such as the American Maritime Museum requesting the barge for various events. There was even a year (1988) where the barge took a month long journey across the Delaware River (for community events) with an additional trip to Erie.

One of the most interesting items I found was a Youtube video featuring the barge from a mini-series in 1986 called George Washington II: The Forging of a Nation. Check out the video at this link and look for the barge to appear around the 7:29 mark:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhkY25xfH9g

The Barge today is housed in the Boathouse behind the Visitor Center. Guests can read about the Delaware River transportation and try out knotting the ropes.


Unfortunately, all this travel took a toll on the barge, and by the early 90s it was time to either retire the barge or face the cost of major repairs. It just amazed and saddened me how the incredible journey of this object has gotten lost over the years. What I’m working on now is to answer how it came to be this way, and could anything had been done differently?

By Lindsay Jordan, Intern

Do you have memories of seeing the barge in action?  Please share in the comments!

Intern Reflections: An Evolving Story

Pennsbury Manor’s interns have been hard at work researching new stories for our upcoming 75th anniversary. As they continue to explore Pennsbury’s history, we’ll be sharing their reflections on what they’re discovering!

If there is one thing I have learned interning here at Pennsbury Manor, it is that Pennsbury is constantly evolving. As new information is discovered and new eyes set upon a topic, a fresh interpretation is born and often implemented. Pennsbury has had as many as four different interpretation plans during its 75 years, which have changed the Manor from a place that focuses solely on William Penn and his belongings to focusing on the culture of Penn’s time, while still incorporating William, his family, and the different relationships he had at his manor.

Apple trees growing along the fence

Our interpretation is not the only thing that has changed over time. The physical layout of the site and buildings has also changed as well. Some changes were minor, such as furniture bouncing from room to room as spaces are updated with a more authentic look. Other changes were on a much larger scale. A few years after Pennsbury was open to the public in 1949, a new outbuilding was constructed. Another major change was the location of Penn’s barge. The barge was initially along the river, a necessity when docking one’s boat. Today, the barge is now located next to the visitors center to prevent water damage.

View of the back of the Manor House

Pennsbury Manor is doing something that many other museums simply cannot seem to do: adapt. Pennsbury is always adapting to new information that is uncovered, and strives to become as historically accurate as possible with the little information accessible. All while honoring the man who constructed the city of brotherly love, and who Thomas Jefferson once called “the greatest lawgiver the world has produced.”

By Kyle Lutteroty, Intern

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