In 1715, a Germantown blacksmith named Thomas Rutter built the first ironwork in the colony of Pennsylvania along the Manatawny Creek, setting the stage for the development of an ironworking empire in the region. John Potts’ father, Thomas, entered into business with Rutter in 1725, and the next few generations of their families came to dominate the colonial iron industry through technical skill, business acumen, and profitable marriages. In the exhibit “Forging a Lifestyle: Ironworking with the Potts Family,” the ins and outs of the early iron industry will be explored, from the physical work that was involved—mining, making charcoal, powering the forges and furnaces—to the business decisions that were made by those who owned and ran the ironworks, like the Potts, Rutter, Nutt, and Savage families.
The exhibit will kick off with Dan Graham’s lecture: “Colonial Pennsylvania Cast Iron Fire Backs, Stove Plates, and Warming Stoves, 1726-1760.” Graham has done extensive research on the Potts and Rutter families and the early Pennsylvania iron industry. His talk will focus on two of the products that came out of the early Pennsylvania iron furnaces, fire backs and stoves. He will trace the development of stoves from the simple five-plate jamb stove to the elaborate ten-plate cooking stoves and the Franklin stove. After the lecture, guided tours of the new iron exhibit will be offered.
The exhibit is open to all ages and can be viewed on a guided tour of Pottsgrove Manor during the museum’s regular hours between March 9, 2013 and November 3, 2013. There is a suggested donation of $2 per person for the tour.
Pottsgrove Manor, home of John Potts, colonial ironmaster and founder of Pottstown, is located at 100 West King Street near the intersection of King Street and Route 100, just off Route 422, in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Pottsgrove Manor is operated by Montgomery County under the direction of the Parks and Heritage Services Division of the Assets and Infrastructure Department.
Regular museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm and Sunday from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. Tours are given on the hour. The last tour of the day begins as 3:00pm. Groups of ten or more should pre-register by calling 610-326-4014. For more information and a full calendar of events, please visit the website at: http://historicsites.montcopa.org/pottsgrovemanor or like Pottsgrove Manor on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/PottsgroveManor.