Pride of Place
For most of us, the pull of home is strong,
even if we’ve traveled abroad or settled far
from our birthplace. We often run across
that essential truth when we interview
homeowners and learn what attracted them
to a particular house in a specific place.
The homeowners who invited us into
their homes for this issue share that same affinity for their
roots. After Harry Goetzmann completed his military tour of
duty, he and his wife, Sylvia, started looking for a permanent
home in which to raise their family. They didn’t return to any
of the towns where Harry had been posted, instead focusing
their search in New York State, where both had grown up.
They split the difference in distance between
Amherst, a suburb of Buffalo where Harry grew up, and
Albany, where Sylvia was raised, to settle along Skaneateles
Lake, one of the Finger Lakes in central New
York not far from Syracuse, where they met in college.
There they bought a home old enough to suit their collection
of late-1700s and early-1800s antiques and modern
enough to accommodate a family of five children.
Joseph Miller left home for college then toured
Europe for a time, but family and familiarity tugged him
back to Petersburg, Virginia. “I was born here,” he said
simply. And so he returned to follow the family tradition
of revitalizing the town by restoring its historic properties.
His efforts to reunite the three separately modernized
sections of the mansion called Strawberry Hill
earned him a National Preservation Award.
Though not born there, I give Pennsylvania pride
of place among the states as the birthplace of many in
my extended family, including my parents, my husband,
and our daughter. It’s also home to America’s system of
government, and the site where immigrants we call the
Pennsylvania Dutch developed or adapted many of their
cultural traditions and shared them with America at large.
We examine two of those traditions in this issue.
If you like pottery—and who among us doesn’t have
a shelf or two of crockery or fine china on display somewhere
in our home?—we give you a glimpse of earthenware
pieces that haven’t been found in any scholarly text
or museum catalogue.
In March, Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum
opened its gallery doors to Thrown, Fired, and Glazed: The
Redware Tradition from Pennsylvania and Beyond. The exhibition
showcases some of the finest redware known—and
unknown. Many of the pieces, first discovered by dealers
and collectors in the early 20th Century, often were
tucked away solely for their owners’ enjoyment.
The exhibition is so vast it will remain on view for two
years to give visitors a chance to see the approximately
400 pieces curators Jennifer Royer and John Kolar assembled,
half this year and the other half next year.
Those colorful, industrious Pennsylvania Dutch gave
us something even more practical than everyday tableware
when they crafted a wagon that could carry tons of
goods across the Appalachian Mountains. The Conestoga
wagon, distinctive for its gracefully curved body, pulled
by a sturdy team of six horses, helped open up the Ohio
Valley and beyond for settlement, transporting raw and
finished goods back and forth across the mountains.
With the wagons and their constant presence along
rudimentary roads in the first half of the 19th Century
came other traditions, many accepted, some possibly
apocryphal. In either case, the Conestoga wagon and its
drivers earned their place in our early history.