Centre Furnace Ironworks & Mansion Timeline

This timeline incorporates various notable Centre Furnace, Centre County, national events to provide context.


Period of Log Structure

1775—1783 Revolutionary War

1779 First schoolhouse in Centre County/Aaronsburg

1789—1797 George Washington, US President

1790—1791 Samuel Miles and John Patton acquired fifty-three land warrants covering over 16,000 acres to begin the Centre Furnace charcoal iron operation.

1791 Colonels Samuel Miles and John Patton built Centre Furnace and we believe the first home, likely a two story log home, on the site. Patton was the resident iron master and Miles lived in Philadelphia.

1792 Centre Furnace put into blast, first charcoal ironmaking operation in what is now Centre County

1799-1824 Centre Furnace Post Office starts and closes

1800 Centre County is established and named after Centre Furnace

1801—1809 Thomas Jefferson, US President

1803 Louisiana Purchase-Thomas Jefferson (3 cents an acre)

1803—1806 Lewis and Clark Expedition

1804 Joseph Miles (son of Samuel) and his cousin, Joseph Green, became managers; Miles lived at Centre Furnace

1806 Bellefonte incorporated

1808—1817 James Madison, US President

1810—1891 Moses Thompson birth/death

1809 Centre Furnace goes ‘out of blast’

1809 Boalsburg Village is laid out and developed between 1809-1848

1811 Work began on the National Road (The Cumberland Road), was the first federal highway and served as a gateway to the west for thousands of settlers.

1812—1890 Mary Irvin Thompson birth/death

1812 War of 1812

1817—1825 James Monroe, US President

1817—1825 Erie Canal completed


Brick ‘Mansion House’ Built

1825 Erie Canal

1826 Furnace reopened by Joseph Miles and Joseph Green, Joseph Green, Jr. and wife, Catherine Miles Green lived at Centre Furnace; he served as resident manager. His father, described as an architect, builder, and carpenter, is credited with building the Centre Furnace stack, the Milesburg Iron Works, and the Harmony Forge Mansion. He may have been the builder of the more permanent ‘mansion house’ at Centre Furnace during this period.

1827 First labor union established in Centre Co., the Forgeman’s Union

1828 William and Harvey Mann begin making axes, Axeman

1830 Joseph Green, Jr. and S. Miles Green served as managers of Centre Furnace during the 1830s.

1832 James Irvin and his father, John Irvin, bought Joseph Miles’ interest in Centre Furnace; General William Houston buys Joseph Green’s interest

1832 General William Houston bought Joseph Green’s interest

1834 S. Miles Green continued to serve as manager

1837-1901 Reign of Queen Victoria

1838—1839 General William Houston, joint owner with the Irvin’s, lived at Centre Furnace

1838 Moses Thompson and Mary Irvin marry, January 4

1838 First known photograph of a person – Louis Daguerre

1839 James Irvin is full owner of Centre Furnace with purchased William Houston’s interest in Centre Furnace

1839—1887 Sarah Irvin Thompson born birth/death date

1841—1915 Elizabeth McFarlane Thompson birth/death date

Thompson Period Underway

1842 Moses Thompson purchased 1/3 Irvin’s Centre Furnace interest; with wife Mary Irvin, and daughters Sara and Elizabeth, moved into mansion

1843—1916 John Irvin Thompson birth/death

1845—1848 James Thompson birth/death

1846 Back ell of Centre Furnace built

1847 New Centre Furnace stack built

1848—1912 William Thompson birth/death

1850—1905 Anna Eliza Thompson birth/death

1852—1854 Mary Thompson birth/death

1848—1852 California Gold Rush

1850 Moses Thompson owns 50% of Centre Furnace Mansion

1855 Establishment of the Farmers' High School of Pennsylvania on 200 acres of Centre Furnace land; 150 guests entertained; papers believed to have been signed in the east front parlor

1857 Panic of 1857; Irvin suffered severe financial losses, Thompson survived

1858 Centre furnace goes ‘out of blast’


Mansion Modernized to Meet New Architectural Tastes and Social Role

1859 Evan Pugh – first president of Penn State/First Class at Penn State/

1859 Bellefonte/Snow Shoe Line is the first railroad line in Centre County

1859—1865 Thompson served as secretary to Board of Farmers High School

1861—1865 Civil War

1861—1865 Abraham Lincoln US President

1862 Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1962 signed by President Lincoln

1863 Emancipation Proclamation

1862 James Irvin dies

1864 Moses Thompson acquires remaining 50% of Centre Furnace after Irvin’s death

1860 Mansion Victorianized throughout the 1860s: Gothic–style dormers added; front windows lowered; Italianate brackets added to extended roof; balconies and large front porch with gingerbread trim

1867—1874 Thompson is treasurer for Farmers High School/Agricultural College

1871 Women started to attend Penn State

1876 Completion of the transcontinental railroad, Bell introduces the telephone

1877 Boogersburg School established (Grades 1-8)

1879 Thomas Edison demonstrates (carbon filament) light bulb on New Year’s Eve

1879 Major construction of electric power plants in US 1879—1902

1880 24 million immigrants arrive in US 1880—1930

1881 Thompson sold 300 acres of land to Andrew Carnegie for development of Scotia

1881 General James Beaver and two friends established a nail factory

1883 Thompson described as largest landowner in county, including 6000 acres in heart of the valley (including virtually all of State College, most of Penn State land, and ½ of College Township).

1883 With son John, Moses Thompson laid out village of Lemont

1883 Edison Illuminating Co of Bellefonte established

1885 Lemont Granary built

1887—1891 James Beaver - Governor of PA

1890 20 acres purchased to begin Grange Tenting Fair in Centre Co

1890 Mary Irvin Thompson death date

1891 Moses Thompson death date

1895—1899 Daniel Hastings, Governor of PA

1896 State College incorporated

1898 PA Match Factory began/Bellefonte


Period of Turn of the Century Changes

1891 Mary and Moses son William and family lived in Mansion through 1912. The second story side porch was enclosed at this time.

1912 William Thompson was tragically killed in an automobile accident in NY

1914 World War I

1914 Madison Garver purchased Mansion for his son, David, two years after death of William Thompson

1919 Bellefonte second stop - airmail from NY to Chicago 1919—1927

1920 David and wife, Anita Imboden-Garver, acquire the deed, move into and remodel the Centre Furnace Mansion [at that time called “The Evergreens”]; David lived in house until his death in 1975. Garver operates a swimming pool, dance hall, roller rink, gas station, barbeque stand and boarding house at various times from the 1920’s through the 70’s.


Centre County Historical Society Headquarters

1978 Acquisition of the Mansion as a bequeath from David Garver, CCHS headquarters moves into the Mansion

1980 Centre Furnace Mansion and Stack are placed on the National Register of Historic Places

1983 As restoration begins, the Mansion begins to open to the public in stages

1989 All Thompson Family Reunion at the Centre Furnace Mansion – 105 attended

2000 Centre Furnace property now approximately 9 acres