Virtual walking tour of the Conestoga Area Historical Society grounds

The Conestoga Area Historical Society

Typically open on Saturdays and Sundays between 1 and 4 pm, the Conestoga Area Historical Society is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization dedicated to preserving the history of the Penn Manor area. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has prevented local museums and historical societies like the CAHS from opening.

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Conestoga Wagon on display at the CAHS

Instead, let’s take a virtual walking tour of the historic buildings on their grounds that serve as excellent examples of early architecture in the region.

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The Graver Tobacco Shed

This is the Society’s original building. It was re-located in 1993 from the Graver Farm on Stone Hill Road in Conestoga. It was a working tobacco shed dating back to the 1870s. When it was opened at the society’s site in 1996, it was re-cycled into exhibit areas. The former curing floor is now the location of changing exhibits.

The Stephen Atkinson Log House

Steven Atkinson Log Cabin
Steven Atkinson Log Cabin

This structure was the Lancaster County home and office of Philadelphia wool merchant, Stephen Atkinson. Likely constructed around 1733, it is Germanic in style and has a floor plan similar to 1719 Hans Herr House.

Basement entrance to the Steven Atkinson Log Cabin
Basement entrance to the Steven Atkinson Log Cabin

The building was originally located below the South Duke Street Bridge in Lancaster City and re-located on the grounds of the CAHS in 1997. The first floor is furnished with Lancaster County 18th century handcrafted reproductions. The basement also serves as the Cellar Museum Shop and Bookstore.

 

A German four-square garden with privy and smokehouse is located to the rear of the house. Click here to learn more about the Stephen Atkinson House.

The Squirrel Tail/Beehive Bake Oven

Beehive Bake Oven circa 1798
Beehive Bake Oven circa 1798

This circa 1798 beehive bake oven was removed from a farm that was purchased by an Amish family and was scheduled to be destroyed. It was saved by the CAHS to become a part of its historical complex.

The Stehman Blacksmith Shop

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Stehman Blacksmith Shop circa 1890

The Tobias “Thaddeus” Stehman Blacksmith Shop was an outbuilding on the Stehman family farm in Pequea Township circa 1880. At the turn of the 20th century, it closed when the blacksmith died. The structure sat unused for nearly one hundred years before the building, with all its contents, was donated to the historical society. It is now a working heritage structure.

 

Personally, I love the smell inside. It reminds me of the grandfather’s garage.

The Michael Harnish Stone House

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Harnish Stone House circa 1748

It is believed that this house dates from about the 1740s. The original Harnish family operated a tavern in the lower level kitchen. The Harnish family, who underwrote the cost of moving and restoring their ancestral home, gifted this structure to the CAHS in 2000.

 

The fireplace inside is used to demonstrate open-hearth cooking on special occasions. I have had tasty treats from that fireplace more than once. In addition, Harnish family historical exhibits are housed on the upper floor of the building.

Cucumber Pump

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Cucumber Pump

Pumps like these, often located outside the kitchen and used to provide water for the family, were called a cucumber pump because they were traditionally painted green.

Planning Your Visit

The Conestoga Area Historical Society is located at 51 Kendig Rd, Conestoga, PA 17516.

 

For more information about the CAHS, visit their website.

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