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Jacobsburg Historical Society

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Visitors to Boulton, the Henry family estate on the Bushkill Creek, can spend a few hours or a full day touring the many buildings on the site, all managed by the Jacobsburg Historical Society.

They can visit the historic Henry Homestead, now the internationally-known Pennsylvania Longrifle Museum (PLRM). The PLRM features a substantial collection of original, hand-crafted Pennsylvania longrifles and items related to the making of longrifles from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Particularly important displays include Henry firearms produced at the gunworks at Boulton (no longer standing) for the American fur trade, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.

Visitors can also tour the magnificent 1832 J. Joseph Henry mansion, a fascinating house museum that was home to five generations of the Henry family. The mansion still contains 200 years of Henry family furniture, musical instruments (including the family’s 1868 Chickering piano), clothing, books, tools, and toys. The most important history painting produced in colonial America, the “Death of Socrates” that a young Benjamin West painted for William Henry of Lancaster in 1756, hung in this home until the family donated it to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania several decades ago. (A full-size photographic reproduction still hangs over the mantle.)

Near the mansion stand the family’s original summer kitchen and its carriage and sleigh barns, still filled with the vehicles that Dr. Thomas Stites and his wife, Mary Adeleine Henry Stites, used to travel for business or pleasure. Also on the site is the nineteenth-century gunshop of Nicholas Hawk (1782-1844) one of the most talented makers of Pennsylvania longrifles. This gunshop sat on the Hawk property in Gilbert, Monroe County, just across the Blue Mountains from the Henry gunworks at Boulton. When the structure was threatened with demolition in 2003, volunteers from Jacobsburg Historical Society dismantled the old gunshop, timber by timber, and transported it to Boulton. Reassembly and restoration was completed here in 2008.

Jacobsburg Historical Society also has an Early American craft education program. The craft education program began over a decade ago when the Master Gunsmiths of Jacobsburg Historical Society began sharing their knowledge of hand crafting Pennsylvania longrifles. Since then the program has been expanded to include the Gunsmith Apprentice Program, craft your own Powder Horn, create a leather hunting bag, and a Basket Weaving Workshop.

The museum season opens in May with a new Revolutionary War Living History Weekend. Jacobsburg Historical Society also presents two more annual living history encampments: an 18th century Market Faire & Rendezvous in October and a WWII Living History Weekend in June. The season ends with a very special Christmas at Boulton Open House in December.

The museums are open one weekend a month for special events and/or for summer museum open house weekends May to December. Small and large group tours are also available throughout the year.

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