Author Bruce Mowday will join re-enactors on Saturday, Feb. 2Ever wonder what's behind the walls of that old stone house in front of the shopping center on the north side of Route 30 in East Caln?

The public will have an opportunity to see many of the artifacts inside Ashbridge House when the Downingtown Area Historical Society hosts a free open house from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 2. The Ash-bridge House is located on Business Route 30 in the Ashbridge Shopping Center, just east of Downingtown.

In addition to an exhibit of many items in the Historical Society's collection, the open house will include several educational programs for youngsters. They will include Revolutionary War and Civil War soldiers from local re-enactment groups, who will display and describe their authentic uniforms and equipment. Children also can participate in educational games such as trying to figure out the uses of the antique artifacts.

Chester County author Bruce Mowday will be available to sign several of his books, including a photographic history of Downing-town. Autographed copies of Jane Davidson's History of Downing-town also will be for sale.

Ashbridge House is the only building of historical significance in an area of rapid commercial development. Initially built in 1709 and expanded three times in the 18th century, it's one of the oldest structures in Chester County. An adjoining family dwelling was built in 1810, and a kitchen was added in 1855. Constructed of stone quarried nearby, the double residence has two living rooms, two kitchens with walk-in fireplaces, and a summer kitchen and oven.

The Historic American Buildings Survey stated that Ashbridge House best illustrates the development of homes of prosperous Quaker farmers in the Great Valley during the 18th century. The Downingtown Area Historical Society, founded in 1978, has continued to restore and preserve Ashbridge House since it took title to the structure in 1999.

Members of the Historical Society expect a large turnout because the open house coincides with the grand opening of the Chick-fil-A restaurant.

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