At the top of the list this year is the Knauss Homestead at 245 years old this month. It has taken a long time and a lot of effort to finally bring the house and barn into a place where we can truly say that it has gotten better with age.
If you haven’t seen the Homestead this past year, it is time to pay us a visit to see all of the changes that have taken place! We’ve constructed two new bluestone porches at the front and back of the house, making them not only better looking, but much safer for all our guests.
The interior of the house continues to be, and perhaps always will be, improved upon. We are in the process of converting one of the second-floor rooms into a continuing education center with ever-changing displays focused on early colonial living.
Recently, we were given some wonderful old photographs of several branches of the Knauss family tree and are in the process of restoring them and preparing them for display in the house. We’re building toward a truly magnificent resource for tracing your roots and getting to know our long-gone ancestors in a way we’ve never been able to before.
Other displays will chronicle the history of Early Colonial Seating, the history of Christmas in America, Early Colonial lighting and so much more.
The barn is also undergoing a huge restoration project and a real enhancement of the property as we endeavor to create what we hope will soon be one of the premier community event centers in the Lehigh Valley. From intimate weddings to art classes, wellness retreats, and even genealogy workshops, we’ll have a lot to offer our community and beyond.
A gorgeous (and quite large) Pennsylvania bluestone terrace has been completed in the barnyard, with plans to continue it into the first level of our bank barn. All of this work is being done at a huge discount and even some by donation from Cerminaro Stone Supply located in Bucks County.
The barn you see today dates to the mid 1800’s, with the original barn having been destroyed by fire. The upper floors of the barn are being restored by Precise Buildings, a premier Amish company that specializes in barn restoration and rebuilding.
Asbestos shingles, having long been a part of the exterior, have been removed, exposing the original wood siding. The barn is also being sealed from the outside elements with new furring strips to close gaps, and wiring and lighting upgraded and improved.
The original windows have been repaired and/or replaced with Amish-made replicas to stay with the authentic design. One significant change you’ll notice immediately is the replacement of the smaller bank doors with the original oversized doors.
All of these improvements are being made financially possible by grants from the Fischer Family Trust, led by Knauss descendant Maggie Fischer and her family, and all of the incredible volunteers leading the charge to increase the visibility of the homestead and all that it has to offer.
Springtime will see the construction a permanent bathroom facility as well as a food prep area located in a period-designed addition to the east side of the barn. Despite all of these modern safety and convenience improvements, the barn will retain its rustic look and feel while making it safe and enjoyable for everyone.
If you missed either of two festivals held at the Homestead this year, please allow us to bring you up to date. In August we held our first annual Peach Festival, and while Mother Nature kept local peaches in scarce supply, the festival was a tremendous success with lots of amazing vendors and delicious food.
October blessed us with a perfect Saturday for our first and annual Harvest Festival, with turnout exceeded our expectations. We welcomed more than 40 vendors featuring a diverse selection of art, crafts, pop-up shops, and incredible food from several local businesses. We even had Franklin Hill Winery and Rising River Brewing on hand to provide a taste of their latest creations just in time for fall.
What’s next? Well if that isn’t enough, of course we have more in store. Next month we begin celebrating our annual Old Fashioned Christmas open house. Friday night , December 2nd, we will have music provided by the Williams Duo, and of course the house will be decorated in typical early Moravian style.
Saturday will continue with more house tours and good cheer. Tickets for the event are “name your price” and count as a donation to the Homestead, which can be anything from $1.00. We hope you’ll decide to contribute to our future by donating and attending!
You can click here for more information.
We want to take this time to thank you for your continued support and contributions to making the Knauss Homestead a place of community, creativity, and education for all who want to deepen their knowledge of early life in our area and connect with their friends and neighbors.
Wishing you a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season!
Treasurer and Resident Historian
The Knauss Homestead Preservation Society