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History Comes Back to Life in Quakertown
Written by Kelly Kalb, Correspondent
2013-06-05
 
The Burgess Foulke house, located on North Main Street, is reflective of the Quaker lifestyle. The three-story stone structure is now filled with artifacts from as far back as the early 1800s.   Edward Foulke Jr. grew up in the home and became the first mayor of Quakertown in 1854.

        In recent years the dust has settled on two historic locations in the borough of Quakertown – the Burgess Foulke house and Liberty Hall building. They are just two of many places throughout the borough that tell a significant story of the past.

        The Quakertown Historical Society and Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce (UBCC) have joined forces to clean up and restore historical sites in the borough. The plan is to encourage the community to take a step back in time and enjoy what was once lost to the area – knowledge of the significance of Quakertown.
        Eventually, the organizations would like to have the historical sites open like museums for the public full-time.
        The Burgess Foulke house, reflective of the Quaker lifestyle, has been a part of Quakertown since 1812 when it was built by Edward Foulke Sr. for his family. It took a huge step in 1974 when it was moved from its previous location at the intersection of Route 309 and Trumbauersville Road to its new home on North Main Street. The property is now owned by the borough and maintained by the historical society.
        It took approximately $40,000 to move the home and lay a foundation at its new location, but the historical society was able to step in and secure the money from local banks. The move was necessary to preserve its historical significance and save it from demolition.
        The three-story stone structure is now filled with artifacts from as far back as the early 1800s. However, not all of the artifacts are from the Foulke family.
        The home itself is a huge piece of history. Edward Foulke Jr. grew up there and became the first mayor of Quakertown in 1854.
        From old photographs to redware pottery, books, toys and clothing to an old lattice-style rope bed with a thin mattress, there is no denying that artifacts are plentiful inside the home.
        It is the hope of Craig Gillahan, president of the Quakertown Historical Society, to send the community back in time and reflect on the lives of past residents.
        The journey is just beginning for properties like the Burgess Foulke house, but with Gillahan in command, the plan is not out of reach.
        “We’re working in phases to clean up the house and display the artifacts that are significant inside the Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce building,” Gillahan said.
        The displays will be open in a walking-tour fashion inside the chamber building, but the plan is to make the Burgess Foulke home and Liberty Hall accessible to the public as well, Gillahan said.
        “Phase I of the house is the exterior and phase II is the interior with the hope of securing funds through local businesses and grants,” Gillahan explained of the process and the chamber’s hopes for funding it.
        The American Native Nursery organization has already donated all the plants and labor to the outside of the historic home. Phase II will soon follow with volunteers shuffling through the old photographs, papers, clothing and other artifacts inside both locations.
        Currently, the Burgess Foulke house has several rooms filled with various items from several time periods. Gillahan plans to get better organized and remove items that have little significance. This will be an arduous process; but with the help of volunteers, the historical society and UBCC are hopeful that within the next year the walking displays will be ready.
        The Liberty Hall building on West Broad Street has withstood the test of time, as well, having been built in 1772 and being the first permanent residence in Quakertown. The two-story colonial-style home has only two rooms with boxes of artifacts filling up the majority of the second floor.
        The organizational efforts will take hold of this property and offer a walking tour with items displayed ,as well as information regarding the historical significance of the location, Gillahan said.
        In 1777, the Liberty Bell reportedly spent the night on the property hidden from the British on its way to Allentown for the remainder of the Revolutionary War.
        The borough purchased the residence in 1977 and it subsequently became a nationally registered historic place in 1978.
        Gillahan admits there are many more locations that could be placed on the registered historic locations list with Main Street alone holding an immense amount of history. Perhaps in time more locations will make the cut.
        For now, the historical society and UBCC are planning tours of both properties on Sunday, June 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to go along with the Quakertown Alive’s Garden Affairs event. Ticket information can be found at www.QuakertownAlive.com.

 

 

 

 

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