Visitors explore local history at Primitive Hall
By CHRIS BARBER
WEST MARLBOROUGH >> The London Grove Friends Meeting, which is celebrating its 300th anniversary this year, joined with Primitive Hall for an open house celebration on Sunday.
Primitive Hall, at the intersection of routes 841 and 842, was the home of one of the meeting’s founders, Joseph Pennock, and his family. It was constructed in 1738.
Pennock was a justice and active in the affairs of the Pennsylvania Assembly. He was not modest about displaying his position, having built that large and impressive home, according to the brochure that is distributed to visitors there.
The dwelling has survived its 276 years quite nicely, thanks to the efforts of the Primitive Hall Foundation, a non-profit organization made up of Pennock family descendants and members of the community. Their function is to fund and preserve the integrity of the grand old house.
The weather was kind to the event organizers on Sunday, with clear skies and comfortable temperature. Lots of visitors showed up, many of them with questions about history for the hosts.
The host group, incidentally, consisted of many Pennock descendants, who still live in the area.
They are largely Quaker and bear names like Pusey, Brosius, Swayne, Thompson, Sharpless and Yeatman.
Mark Myers, one of the trustees of the foundation, said even Hall of Fame baseball great Herb Pennock, who lived in Kennett Square, was part of that family.
Those hosts were ready with answers for the guests and even offered refreshments in the historic old kitchen.
Myers said the hall is open for lectures twice a year and has other special events, mostly designed around its history.
The London Grove Friends Meeting began in 1714 when a group of local Quakers began the meeting at the home of John Smith, who lived on Street Road not far from the present meetinghouse. Later the present meetinghouse was constructed.
It is immaculately preserved, and recently a bathroom was added with running water.
Sandy Reber is head of the 12-member committee charged with celebrating the three-century mark, with events which began with a piano concert in June.
Last month there was a tour of all the meetinghouses in the area led by veteran London Grove Friends member Ruth Thompson.
Thre will be a potluck lunch on Sept. 21 which Reber said will feature fresh, home grown produce.
October is the actual anniversary of the first gathering of the members of the London Grove Friends Meeting, and that will be a big event. Reber said there will be tours of the graveyard, exhibits, antique cars and a chicken dinner by reservation only. Christopher Densmore of Swarthmore will give lectures on London Grove and its connection with the peace movement and with the abolition of slavery.
On Nov. 8, Chester County Preservation Officer Karen Marshall will talk about Quakers and their early development of Chester County.
And finally on Dec. 6, meeting member Gillian Grassie will give a concert on the Celtic harp after a potluck dinner.