The Old Stone House is now open for the season, and we’ve been pleased to see lots of visitors in our first few weeks!  We’ve hired two new student docents,  done a little spring cleaning, and are now in the midst of totally revising all our exhibits in the display room.

This week’s Find isn’t really all that old, but is a neat look into “what might have been.”  As you may know, the Stone House was reconstructed in the 1960s, under the direction of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (and later turned over to Slippery Rock university).  What you may not know is that the Stone House was originally to serve as the anchor for a much larger “historic village” site that was to include a schoolhouse, church, small working farm, and living history demonstrations of blacksmithing, carpentry, and agriculture.

We recently discovered in our file cabinets the blueprints for a building labeled the “Old Stone House Gift Shop, Crafts, and Display Center – Bldg. #3”; a small detail for your enjoyment (click on picture for larger version):

1969 Blueprints-Old Stone House Bldg #3As the plans show, this building was supposed to have a candlemaker shop, blacksmith shop with working forge, a carpenter shop, as well as a number of displays and two windmills (not shown in this detail).

So, why didn’t it happen?  It likely had something to do with the economic climate of the 1970s, during which high interest rates, rising unemployment, and runaway inflation canceled lots of plans made during the booming economy of the 1960s. (Hmm…museums getting pinched during a recession.  Gee, that sounds so familiar…)

Some of the planned elements from this display did make it into the Stone House – for instance, we still have a display devoted to artifacts uncovered during the reconstruction of the house, and we do have the “walking wheel” and smaller “flax wheel” shown at the top of this picture, and a number of tools likely intended for the carpenter’s shop.

While it’s a bit sad to compare the grand plans to the much smaller reality, it’s a good reminder that public history sites need lots of public support to carry out their missions.  Maybe someday we can pull out these plans again and start a new building project…anyone have a hundred thousand dollars they wouldn’t miss?

Have a great weekend – should be nice weather; come out for a picnic and tour the Old Stone House!

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