Location: Worcester, PA
Date Built: 1758
Style: Georgian (Germanic influence)
On December 4, 2010, The Peter Wentz Farmstead in Worcester, Pennsylvania will be holding their Candlelight Tour of the colonial home. The path to the home will be lit with soft glow candlelights. The Farmstead will be showcasing period music and seasonal decorations.
Peter Wentz Candlelight Tour
Peter Wentz Sr. was born about 1680 in Partenheim, Germany and was naturalized in 1730; however, tax records show he was here as early as 1704. He was hired by the English Crown to carry on operations of war at sea, essentially a licensed pirate. His sale of the captured bounty made him a wealthy man. In 1711 the elder Peter Wentz bought a 50 acre tract in Towamencin Township. By 1715 he had acquired three more tracts, bringing his land holdings to 334 acres. By 1738 he owned an additional 656 acres.
His son, Peter Wentz Jr. was born November 19, 1719 in Worcester Township. His father left him 300 acres in the central section of the original 2000 acres. which he began developing by building a stone barn and a log house on that plot in 1744. After Peter Sr.'s death in 1749. Peter Wentz Jr. began to construct a 2 1/2 story, nine room Georgian house which was completed in 1758.
Back of the Peter Wentz Farmstead with the summer kitchen in the foreground
The house was built of cut red and uncut sandstone in the English Georgian architectural style with well balance symmetry and definite Pennsylvania Germanic influence, especially with the use of color in the interior of the house. Through careful microscopic examinations during restoration in the 1970's, it was determined that the sponge, diamonds, and crescent shaped decorations in the dado of the walls were present during the the visit from George Washington in 1777. The woodwork is painted vibrant brown, dark green, vibrant blue, and gold.
Pent eaves along with a pent roof are located on the exterior of the home. There are split doors with a second story door which leads to a small balcony. Exterior decoration is simple. The windows are 6 over 6 and 9 over 9 panes. The main house has undergone several alterations but is still close to 80 percent original. Part of the kitchen wing had been a breezeway before the kitchen was remodeled about 1870. A bake oven is in the kitchen which is still used for colonial cooking. The large gable chimneys were replaced by a single smaller chimney. Most of the interior still has its finely detailed original woodwork with corner cupboards. Some of the pine floor boards remain intact. Rooms are heated with either fireplaces or five plate cast iron stoves.
Breezeway which joins the summer kitchen to the house
A large stone barn has replaced the original barn which was much smaller. Part of the barn was constructed in the mid nineteenth century. The stone gristmill was possibly constructed over the foundation of the original log cabin built in 1744. The original gristmill was used up until 1893. There may have been a courtyard during the eighteenth century. The original mill equipment is preserved in the attic. Other outbuildings consist of a sheep fold, smoke house, privy, wood shed and ice house.
Reconstructed barn to represent an eighteenth century building
Crescent moon shaped designs on the dado of the wall
Peter and Rosanna Wentz sold the property in 1784 to Devault Bieber, a distant relative through marriage, then moved to a smaller home in Whitpain Township. Bieber then sold the property to Melchior Schultz, a Schwenkfelder minister. It remained in the Schultz family until 1969 when Montgomery County purchased the property including 90 acres. The county restored the home to the time when Peter Wentz resided in it, and finally opened it to the public in 1976.
Polka Dot Sponge Decoration in the kitchen
The historical significance of the Peter Wentz is undeniable in the fact that General George Washington used the house as his headquarters on October 2-4, just before the the Battle of Germantown, then again on October 16 to the 21st. It is at the Peter Wentz Farmstead where he planned the strategy for the Battle of Germantown, although the surprise attack proved to be a mistake. Washington retreated back to Skippack Creek and stayed in the Peter Wentz home once again.
Reenactors on the Peter Wentz Candlelight Tour
An event occurred at the property which proved to be a turning point in the American Revolution. It was news that General Burgoyne surrendered to General Gates at Saratoga. The letter by General George Washington reads:
Reenactors on the Candlelight Tour
To MAJOR GENERAL ISRAEL PUTNAM
Edward Matthews wrote an article in 1902 in which he stated, "Many muskets and cannon balls, some rusty camp spades and other relics since exhumed, have testified to the presence of an army here.."
Today the Peter Wentz Farmstead is a working eighteenth century farm with dorset sheep and horses. The gardens and orchards are maintained of the same period. Special events are held throughout the year including sheep shearing, open hearth cooking, colonial day camp, food preparation, music, antique, and craft workshops. There is also a Laerenswaert (German phrase for "worth learning") event held each year to showcase colonial professions such as rye straw braiding, stone carving, hooking rugs, making butter, and beer brewing. This year be sure to visit the farmstead for the Peter Wentz Farmstead Candlelight Tour. Don't miss the visit from St. Nicholas in furs.
Dorset sheep, the type of sheep that might have been present in the eighteenth century
Source: Text and Research by Bryan Wright
Peter Wentz Farmstead Society
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