Robert T. Rhode

Robert T. Rhode
Robert T. Rhode

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Distinctive Museums 5: The Pennsylvania House Museum

The Pennsylvania House Museum in Springfield, Ohio ( offers tours worth taking! Sponsored for many years by the Daughters of the American Revolution, the rambling building, now a museum but once an inn, is filled with antiques representing stories from the past. When my dear friend and co-author Eleanor Y. Stewart and I visited, we were joined by several other visitors, forming a large group ably led by a docent with a talent for voicing those stories. Our tour guide highlighted two or three items in each room. Eleanor and I found her narratives fascinating. Our visit was long but did not feel long; in fact, Eleanor and I wish that we could have learned about dozens of items in every room!

The Pennsylvania House Museum in Springfield, Ohio

The structure was begun in the early 1800s with wings added through the 1850s. When he was a lad, Dr. Isaac K. Funk, a co-founder of the Funk & Wagnalls dictionary, lived in the Pennsylvania House, which his father ran as manager. Carefully researched colors of paint, architectural features throughout the museum, and original floor boards on the third floor transport visitors back to the first decades of the nineteenth century.

Once an Inn on the National Road, the Rambling Pennsylvania House

Agricultural tools, such as grain reaping sickles, exemplify the days when livestock drovers stopped at the inn, which stood at the Springfield terminus of the National Road before the highway eventually pushed on westward. Various goods symbolize the general store that once occupied part of the inn. Cooking utensils epitomize the food preparation for the many guests of the inn’s first decades. From crystal to coverlets, from silver to sewing, from dressers to dolls, the Pennsylvania House archives more intriguing items than eyes can take in while walking from room to room. Artifacts testify to the genius of our ancestors.

Building and Grounds Donated to D.A.R. in 1939

An unanticipated bonus of the tour is the room devoted to a huge collection of buttons. Prior to our visit to the Pennsylvania House, had anyone asked me if I cared to see a button collection, I would have politely declined, but the buttons are so wonderfully displayed and so amazingly diverse that they capture everyone’s fullest attention. Buttons from a wedding dress contained miniature tintype portraits of the wedding party. Asian buttons presented entire scenes painted with consummate talent.

The Pennsylvania House on National Register of Historic Places

A few items from the 1700s, countless items from the 1800s, and significant items from the 1900s speak volumes about yesteryear. If you have not toured the Pennsylvania House, be sure to put it at the top of your “to do” list.

Eleanor Y. Stewart Outside the Pennsylvania House Museum

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