MANSION RESTORATION PROJECT
Many of you know the Centre Furnace Mansion as a place you have supported as a member, donor, volunteer or student intern or visited on a tour. Perhaps you attended a talk or event, visited to do research, or even toured the Mansion as an elementary school student. Maybe you were among the supporters for the first restoration of the Mansion in the 1980s after it was saved from demolition by a community that knew its significance to Centre County. The Mansion is a beautiful historic treasure and community resource that has drawn many people for many reasons, and now we need your support to help preserve it. The Centre County Historical Society (CCHS) has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s (PHMC) Keystone Historic Preservation Grant program to support urgent restoration and repair work on the Centre Furnace Mansion. The work includes replacement and repair of the mansion’s 33-year old cedar roof and restoration of the porches.
This project is supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s Keystone Historic Preservation Grant, a program funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Funding provided in part through a grant provided by the Centre County Board of Commissioners and Happy Valley Adventure Bureau.
The Centre Furnace Mansion was listed in 1979 on the National Register of Historic Places and dates to the 1820s when the simple log home of Centre Furnace founder and ironmaster Col. John Patton was replaced by a five-bay Georgian mansion. Moses and Mary Irvin Thompson moved into the home in 1842 and added an ell in 1846. The Thompsons continued to update the mansion by adding Victorian features in the 1860s including a two-story covered porch added to the ell.
In 1920 the Mansion and grounds were purchased by Penn State professor Madison Garver for his son, David B. Garver, who later capitalized on the post WWII housing shortage by turning a portion of the Mansion into apartments. When the Centre County Historical Society accepted the Centre Furnace Mansion in 1978 as a bequest from Mr. Garver, it assumed an enormous obligation to preserve this historic site. The Society began its work in the early 1980s to restore and rehabilitate it.
The Centre County Historical Society was an all volunteer organization in 1978 when the small group was entrusted with owning, restoring and managing a grand building and expansive grounds in great need of repair. The site of Centre County’s pioneering iron furnace settlement, dating from 1791, would have been lost to the 322 Bypass transportation project had it not been for an ambitious community effort to preserve the site and see to its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Discussion about planning for future uses of the site and how its restoration would be funded and executed would feature largely in CCHS Board and community meetings for years to follow. We now are honored to carry the torch of preserving this historic treasure for future generations.
Why it Matters
Challenge and Opportunity
Now, nearly 40 years and 170,000 visitors later, major repairs are needed to secure the Mansion for the future. Urgent repair projects will stabilize the Mansion from continued deterioration, including the replacement and repair of the 33-year-old cedar shingle roof, the removal of a honey bee colony in the front soffits, and extensive repair on the Mansion’s porches and balcony.
The Centre County Historical Society has recently updated its anticipated project budget to over $300,000 due to the current and significant increase in the cost of construction materials. We have been awarded a $100,000 matching grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) Keystone Historic Preservation Construction Grant program and a $6,000 Tourism Grant from the Centre County Board of Commissioners and the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau.
The Mansion restoration projects are on track to take place in the late spring through the fall of 2021. CCHS must raise enough funds to match the grants it has received and beyond to meet its project budget goal. The current project timeline requires an increased urgency to fundraising efforts in order to cover the cost of construction and materials. This restoration and repair effort will be the first phase of a multi-year fundraising effort to continue with the restoration of the Mansion’s windows and painted brick siding. Our hope is that this current fundraising campaign will provide seed funds for future projects once the roof, porches and balcony are restored.
Alan Popovich, AIA, at APA Architects, LLC is a member CCHS Board of Governors since 2015, is the project’s restoration architect. Mr. Popovich has an extensive background in historic preservation and preservation technology and has worked on numerous historic sites in Centre County and beyond. He has completed an overall project evaluation, is preparing and coordinating the completion of bid documents, will secure local construction approvals and permits, and will provide project construction administration.
Roofing consultant, William Marcum — Vice-President, Martech Associates, Inc. also brings decades of experience in working with roof projects on historic structures. Mr.Marcum has contributed professional services to prepare the conditions assessments of the Mansion’s roof and prepare repair and replacement documents accordingly. His firm, as a consultant to APArchitects, will finalize roof drawings. Mr.Marcum was instrumental in securing a donation from Sunbelt Rentals, Inc. who contributed the use of a lift during the planning stage.