MONDAY, MAY 24, 2004


We also hired Cox-Evans Architects, and sent them drafts that Dawn and I worked up in a home architect program. The only thing we’re really doing is adding bathrooms, and originally we weren’t going to hire an architect at all, but the contractor wanted detailed plans before putting together an estimate. It’s not a bad investment, however; since we have no idea what we’re doing, having a professional (especially one sympathetic to historic renovations) review it is a Good Idea.

We read through some bathroom books and they basically said to add bathrooms, you needed to move walls and closets around to “steal” space. Well, Speedwell Forge was built before they had closets, and we’re not moving any walls, so we had to “carve” space out of the bedroom. This is terrible from a preservation standpoint, but necessary from a business standpoint. (Shared baths just don’t work in the U.S.)

Addendum: Bruce Evans, the architect threw out our plans and started from scratch. At first we were annoyed, but then we realized why he threw out our plans, and we’re glad we hired him.

FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2004


Years ago, Dawn’s mother sent us a company calendar which featured a drawing of the “Darlington Mansion.” I had tried to contact the company about permission to reprint, but they never responded.

On a whim, we googled the artist, and found her phone number. Dawn contacted her and she gave us permission for “non-commercial purposes.” I’m not sure what that covers, but I’ve already drawn up thank you cards, which look really nice.

Addendum, July 29, 2005: Found another non-commercial use: Wedding invitations! Since we are planning a very small wedding, I bought some nice stationery which my co-workers decorated with ribbon (against my wishes) and which featured the artwork shaded gray. It’s very elegant.

THURSDAY, MAY 20, 2004


[There are many people who know a lot more than I do, but here are some interesting bits that I’ve picked up so far.]

Around 1730, John Jacob Huber set up a tavern on a popular trade route through Lancaster County. (This tavern is now the Forgotten Seasons B&B.) Business must have been very good, because he then started Huber Furnace (later renamed Elizabeth Furnace) where the 501 and Pennsylvania Turnpike now meet.

James Old, owner of Quittapahilla Forge in Lebanon and part-owner of Hopewell Forge in Berks County, bought some property around Hammer Creek from Huber and built Speedwell Forge, as well as a small home for himself and his family.

Peter Grubb owned the Cornwall Iron Furnace as well as the Cornwall iron mines, the richest source of iron ever found in America. Peter Grubb hired Robert Coleman, an accountant from Ireland, who later left Cornwall and joined James Old, even living with his family at Speedwell Forge.

In the meantime, “Baron” Henry William Steigel married Elizabeth, Huber’s daughter, and took over Elizabeth Furnace five years later. He went on to buy Charming Forge in Womelsdorf, founded the town of Manheim, and then (what he was made famous for) opened a glassworks. Unfortunately we had overextended himself and was thrown into debtor’s prison and his assets were sold. Additional information about the Baron can be found here and here.

Judge George Ege (pronounced “eggy”), who owned aeveral other furnaces, bought Charming Forge from Stiegel’s creditors, and allowed Stiegel to live out the rest of his life there, teaching at the nearby school (which Stiegel had founded.)

Robert Coleman, meanwhile, married Anne Old, James’ daughter, and became an ironmaster himself when he leased Salford Forge. Later, he purchased it, as well as Elizabeth Furnace from Stiegel, Cornwall Furnace, and many others. He received Speedwell Forge from his father-in-law in 1784, but never lived in the mansion again. (Nevertheless, he expanded it, adding the eastern wing in the popular Georgian style.)