Archive for 'Federal'

Wheatland (1828)


On our second day in Lancaster County PA, I visited Wheatland, the estate of President James Buchanan, which is in the city of Lancaster itself. Buchanan is usually considered one of the worst presidents, but he is the only president from Pennsylvania and his restored house is definitely worth a visit. It’s a Federal style house, built in 1828, which is furnished in the Victorian style to reflect the era when Buchanan lived there, from 1848 to 1868. I didn’t watch the introductory video, which had some info about Buchanan’s political career. Visitors are told to walk from the visitor’s center down to the house, where a guide wearing a hoop skirt period dress gave the tour, which focused on domestic issues rather than politics. Even if one is not thrilled by Buchanan himself, there is also the interesting story of the unmarried president’s First Lady, his niece Harriet Lane, who later inherited the house. The house is adjacent to the Lancaster County Historical Society, which has an exhibit gallery and a book store.

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Boal Mansion (1789) and Columbus Chapel (1909)

Boal MansionBoal Mansion

I visited Pennsylvania a few weeks ago and went to a number of historic sites, starting with the Boal Mansion and Columbus Chapel, in Boalsburg just outside of State College. Nine generations of the same family have lived in the house and the museum displays a wide variety of objects acquired over two centuries. In the fourth generation, George Jack Boal married Malvina Amada Buttles, whose brother-in-law was Theodore M. Davis, an Egyptologist who discovered the tomb of the great grandparents of King Tutankhamun. Objects from the tomb are on display in the house. In the fifth generation, Colonel Theodore Davis Boal married a French-Spanish heiress, Mathilde de Lagarde. She was a descendant of Josephine, the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, and the museum has a lock of Napoleon’s hair on display. Mathilde’s aunt, Victoria Montalvo, was married to Diego Columbus, a direct descendant of Christopher Columbus. Mathilde inherited from her aunt the Chapel from the Columbus Castle in Spain. In 1909, the Chapel interior, which includes Columbus’ desk and two pieces of the True Cross, was moved to the Boal estate and placed inside a new building by Col. Boal. The museum also has exhibit rooms containing displays of farm implements and weapons. › Continue reading…



I’ve been to Boscobel twice, the second time as part of a group tour. The picture above is the best one I took, although members of the group are plainly visible. It’s a Federal-style mansion on the Hudson River with extensive grounds and an excellent view of West Point. Inside, the house has a great collection of Federal-style furniture. I have a particular liking for the Federal style, so this must rank as a top recommendation among the many historic house museums in the Hudson River Valley. Boscobel was built in 1804-1808 for the wealthy States Dyckman, a loyalist during the Revolutionary War, who did not live to see the mansion’s completion. His wife and son then lived in the house. The house originally stood in Montrose, New York, but was later taken down and eventually reconstructed in Garrison and reopened in 1961. When I was last there, over a year ago, the gift shop had three particularly notable books about the site: one was a picture book of the house, the second a book on the home’s Federal furnishings, and the third a biography of States Dyckman. The two picture books are excellent examples of the types of attractive guidebooks historic houses should have available. As a showplace of the Federal style, Boscobel ranks with such other houses as Gore Place, in Waltham Mass., and the Gardner-Pingree House in Salem, Mass.

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