Centre Furnace Mansion: The Centre Furnace Mansion serves as headquarters for the Centre County Historical Society. The Mansion, the ironmaster’s residence for Centre Furnace, has been restored and is furnished to reflect the period of residency of ironmaster Moses Thompson and his family, 1842-1891. A mansion in miniature, identical to the original and scaled one inch to one foot, is on permanent display.
Centre Furnace site includes the Centre Furnace Mansion, furnace stack, and surrounding eight acres. This National Register site represents a small portion of the late 18th-century ironmaking village once located here. Its interpretation is based on historical documentation and archaeological research, and includes carefully landscaped grounds with walkways and period gardens. Click here for information on touring the Mansion.
Centre Furnace Stack: Still visible today, the Furnace was established in 1791 by Revolutionary War veterans Samuel Miles and John Patton who selected this prime location in the Nittany Valley, an area rich with iron ore. Centre Furnace first went into “blast” and began producing iron in 1792 using very simple technology. Workers layered the raw ingredients into this 35-foot furnace stack, made of native stone. First a burning hearth was created in the stack by filling it with charcoal. Then the furnace was “put in blast” by releasing the water wheel-powered bellows to blow a blast of air through the hearth. Iron ore, charcoal, and limestone were added from the top in alternate layers.
The Furnace and resulting iron industry fueled local development, the creation and naming of Centre County, and ultimately the formation of The Pennsylvania State University and the development of the Borough of State College on furnace lands.
Centre Furnace Gardens: The property is tucked into a hillside, secluded by large spruce, maple, walnut and sycamore trees. But it is a 250-year-old sycamore tree that dominates the landscape graced with gardens and expanses of lawn as would have been common in the Victorian Era in which the mansion has been restored.
The Centre County Historical Society received the Mansion and approximately two acres through a bequest in 1978. Beginning in 1983-1984 , the restoration of the Mansion and plans for the recovery of the gardens and grounds were underway. With the help of landscape architects, historians, and horticulturists, the gardens were researched, sited, thoughtfully designed, and cared for by dedicated Historical Society volunteers and part time gardening staff.Another nearly seven acres was added to the property in the 1990s, through purchase, a gift, and a long-term lease agreement with Penn State. With this growth and over time, there became an increasing need for consistent and more volunteer support in the gardens. In 2001, with help from volunteers from the local PSU Master Gardeners of Centre County Cooperative Extension, the Centre Furnace Mansion Garden Committee formed to maintain and develop the gardens and garden programming. Click here for more garden information.
On May 1, 1877, Moses Thompson, the ironmaster and owner of Centre Furnace, deeded property along what is now Fox Hill Road for the Boogersburg School. The schoolhouse was built that same year. Thompson wanted to ensure an education for the children of his tenant farmers who lived over two miles from the iron village. For the next 75 years, the Boogersburg School served first through eighth grade youth during some very significant times in our nation’s history.
In 2004, the school was given to the Centre County Historical Society by Society members Bob Struble and Susan Crary. Prior to 2004, the school was closed for many years, then used as an art studio by sculptor Sybil Grucci, until its purchase by the Strubles. The Strubles, recipients of a 2003 CCHS Historic Preservation Award, have beautifully restored and furnished the building for use in interpreting school life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
It has become a favorite museum resource for the many local elementary school children who have visited the school to experience a typical late 19th century school day. With the help of our volunteer “school marms”, we welcome hundreds of school children every year. CCHS looks forward to continuing to offer rich educational experiences and opportunities for children (and adults) that the Strubles have so successfully initiated and carried out.
The Boogersburg School is located on Fox Hill Road in Patton Township. Click here for information on visiting Boogersburg School.