Oley Valley 2011 Holiday House Tour - Home of Cory and Jeanne DeLancey
Home of Cory and Jeanne DeLancey
This Christmas if
you are looking for a home tour which is rich in history and filled with stone houses and colonial architecture, why not give the Oley Valley 2011 Holiday House Tour in Oley Pennsylvania a try. It will be held on December 3, Saturday from 10-5. If you check the journal of Heinrich Gudehus that we have online, you will find that Oley was one of the first towns Gudehus came to from Germany prior to becoming a schoolteacher at Moselem Springs. His first reactions:

After two days I went to Oley, where Pastor Conrad Miller had arranged a dwelling with the previous mentioned Heinrich Spang, into which I could move immediately and in which I was to live half a year rent-free. Almost beside myself with joy I hurried to this Spang to express my thanks and then to take my way quickly to Philadelphia; but this did not go go quickly as I thought for everyone desired me to stay in his company at least a day yet. I did that then too and then hurried to this Spang to Philadelphia to bring my wife with encouraging news. Two days later, Spang sent a driver who was to bring my things and us to Oley. Oley is fifty English miles distant from Philadelphia and the way there for the most part hilly and rough...

Here in Oley I made the acquaintance of many German preachers who often visited Pastor Miller, among others the two Reformed preachers Dechand and Antiken, both were immigrant Prussians and both first chose the preaching profession in Pennsylvania...

Oley Valley 2011 Holiday House Tour - 1744 Oley Forge Ironmaster's Mansion, Raccoon Creek Antiques
1744 Oley Forge Ironmaster's Mansion, Raccoon Creek Antiques
Gudehus arrived on Oley in 1822, but of course Oley's history goes back to the 1700's when the first European settlers, primarily Germans who were seeking religious freedom, arrived in the valley where the Native Delaware Indians were residing. It was the Leni Lenape that gave Oley its name. In Lenape "Olink" means kettle which is how the Oley valley is roughly shaped.

Because if its significant architecture from the colonial period, the Oley Township Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. It is in another concentrated area of the Pennsylvania Dutch farming communities which are found in the central and southeastern region of Pennsylvania. What makes the Oley Valley area unique is that it remains undeveloped with ninety percent of its land use remaining in its original use since settlement. This is probably the most significant area in the country with the highest concentration of 18th century stone farm buildings and outbuildings. In fact, every home on the 1st Holiday House Tour was stone, including the two antique shops we visited.

Oley Valley 2011 Holiday House Tour - Bertolet House Antiques
Bertolet House Antiques
There are over 160 farmsteads with one or more buildings dating between 1740 and 1880, with well over 700 buildings built in the 18th and 19th centuries. Every farmstead which has a house and barn also has one to ten outbuildings. On the farmstead springhouses, summer kitchens, bake ovens, stone cabins, and smokehouses can be found. On the property can be found fields, pastures, orchards, gardens and locust groves.

Although ten to twenty cabins, springhouses, and small barns still exist from the 1712-1740 period, the most significant period architecturally was from 1740 to 1780 when the medieval Germanic style dominated the countryside with steep-roofed stone cabins, clay tiled roofs, stone barns with arched openings, center chimneys, bank barns, exposed beams, and numerous outbuildings. Eventually between 1780 and 1820, the 18th century farmhouse moved from the center chimney design to the well balanced formal Georgian style. This was the period when mills furnaces and forges were built which in turn led to inns and taverns.

Oley Valley 2011 Holiday House Tour - The Crooked House, home of Susan and Donald Martin
The Crooked House, home of Susan and Donald Martin
One of the oldest house on Main Street, The Crooked House was on tour last year. It was used as a tenant farmer's cottage which was on land granted to the DeTurck family in 1713 by William Penn. There was a root cellar beneath the first floor with walls chinked with mud and horsehair along with mortise and tenon beams.

Bertolet House Antiques was located in an 1800's original two story farmhouse. Within the last two years, the owners tastefully added the two story stucco addition with old wood flooring, beams, and dining room period architecture. Colonial Sense certainly made purchases there.

Another unique property was the Johannes Lesher's German Palladin House known as the Oley Forge Ironmaster's Mansion built in 1744. In a converted house on the grounds was Raccoon Creek Antiques which specialized in period Americana and Folk Art with original surfaces.

The Salem United Church of Christ is not colonial in nature, however it had a huge significance on Heinrich Gudehus at the time. It was rebuilt on the site of Oley's first log meeting house. He stated:

The Germans living in Oley were for the most part Lutherans and Reformed and had a common church in which once every fourteen days regular preaching was held alternately in addition to burials and other extraordinary events; that is if one Sunday the Lutheran pastor Miller had preached, then after fourteen days the Reformed pastor Dechand would preach. I found this to be the case in many places, and because each preacher there in the country only preached once every four weeks regularly in each of his congregations, this set-up was very good and could have remained so for many years. But the Lutherans wanted their own church for themselves for which the foundation was laid during the time of my stay in Oley and just close by the church already existing there which was very pretty and roomy. Pastor Miller told me that at the request of his congregation he went from house to house along with several of his church councilmen a short time ago to record in writing what each of the members would contribute to the building of a new church; and the above-named Heinrich Spang who was also a member of the church council there would immediately subscribe that for the building of this church he would give 1000 dollars and on the same day yet 5000 dollars were subscribed; for two other rich farmers did not want to fall back of the example of Spang and each one likewise subscribed 1000 dollars. Before I left America I saw this church which had been consecrated, and the beautiful building and the splendor of the same caused me amazement. About the building style of the churches and about the services and so forth I will further relate in a special chapter.

[The Reformed congregation (Salem United Church of Christ near Spangsville) was established as early as 1736 although its land was deeded for a church already in 1734. Although the Lutherans worshipped in the Reformed Church, it was not actually a union church. The Lutherans organized formally in 1821. The congregation is now Christ Lutheran Church near Spangsville. The two stand side by side.]

This is the second year of the Oley Valley Holiday House Tour. It is sponsored by the Oley Valley Community Library Committee which helps to create a permanent community library in the Valley. If you are looking for a wonderful home tour with colonial architecture and most of the land is in its original use, visit the Oley Valley 2011 Holiday House Tour. Make sure you stop by Glick's Greenhouse. Last year on the tour was a Poinsetta Show with more than 10,000 poinsettias on display. Live music and refreshments were served. Other stops this year are Oley Valley Interim Library, Spayd's Greenhouses, Evelyn and Harriet's Gifts, and Friedens UCC Churcy. Be sure to leave feedback on our Facebook page and let us know how you enjoyed the show.

Source: Research & text by Bryan Wright

Related Links:

Facebook: Holiday House Tour
Heinrich Gudehus' Journal
The Oley Valley Holiday House Tour

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