Gov. George Wolf is known in areas of the Lehigh Valley as an important historic figure.
But other than being the seventh governor of Pennsylvania, many may not realize how his actions lead to him being known as the "Father of the Free School System."
Wolf was born in East Allen Township and educated at a time when only the wealthy received an education. Higher education was reserved for other parts of the state, but in 1785, Wolf's father and other German farmers came together to build the Allen Academy, which was where Wolf received his college education.
He went from student, to teacher, to solicitor in Easton, to postmaster. And in 1814, he was elected to Congress. He was passionate about education and industry and was encouraged to run for governor, winning in 1829.
As governor, he was instrumental in passage of the Common School Act, which provided education to all.
Cool Spaces: From blight to bright
The Allen Academy later became the Wolf Academy and is one of three structures on the grounds of the Governor Wolf Historical Society campus in East Allen.
The building consists of one large room with high domed ceilings. It has served many purposes over the years - a school, a church, a barn - but it is now restored to show its original intention. All three buildings offer an interesting and cool glimpse into the past.
The largest building on the campus is the 18th century Ralson-McKeen House, which is where most of the current restoration work is focused. The Georgian-style square cut limestone house has a long history of its own but the eight rooms (with six fireplaces) feature a lot of original woodwork and trim. Particularly impressive are the original staircase and original mantels on the fireplaces. The restoration of the original kitchen, which included removing an addition and restoring the original fireplace, is near completion.
The third building on the campus is the 19th century Monocacy Schoolhouse, which now serves as a meeting place, classroom and makeshift museum.
All three offer different glimpses into the past and are lovingly and carefully taken care by members of the Governor Wolf Historical Society, an all-volunteer organization.
And while the photos here offer a hint into late 1700s and early 1800s lifestyles, all three properties will be transformed this weekend as the society gears up for its ninth annual benefit Antiques Show fundraiser. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 4, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 5. More than 30 exhibitors will be offering fine antiques for sale during the event.
A glimpse inside nation's oldest apothecary
Included in the event is a demonstration of open hearth cooking in the newly restored Ralston-McKeen kitchen by Kathy Wilhelm, who serves as president of the Gov. Wolf Historical Society. Charlotte Schneck will be on hand 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, offering antique appraisals of up to two items for $5 each.
More information about the antiques event may be found on the society's website.
In conjunction with the fundraiser, on Saturday, the third annual Chestnut Street Antiques Show will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. just down the road a bit in the 1876 Christ Church of Bath, 109 S. Chestnut St.
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