Valentine's Day Serendipity

Black and white photo from 1869 of parlor at the Keith House shows fireplace with marble surround. To the right is an open door leading into a hallway where a set of stairs is visible.
Graeme Park shared this 1869 photo of the parlor by Philadelphia photographer John Moran (1831-1902) as part of their 300 year retrospective of the Keith House (photo from Library Company of Philadelphia via Graeme Park's Facebook page)

I was intrigued by the photo above, shared by the folks at Graeme Park on their Facebook page. The Keith House at Graeme Park, built for colonial Pennsylvania governor Sir William Keith, is marking its 300th birthday this year. I hadn't heard of the photographer, so I, a seasoned museum professional and intellectual, Googled him. I found a useful post on The Philly History Blog that filled in the photographer's background and his place in the history of photography ("Balancing the Books for John Moran Art Photographer" by Ken Finkel, August 11, 2014).

The blog post and Graeme Park's Facebook post both noted that the Library Company of Philadelphia holds a considerable collection of Moran's work, so off I went to their website's digital catalogue. My search led me to a long scroll of photos that included landscapes from around the Philadelphia area, building exteriors and interiors, a lot of photos with railroad bridges, and more (my search results). I didn't want to get too far down a rabbit hole, but I decided to search for other Graeme Park images. That's when I found a very timely "Valentine Poem to Elizabeth Graeme Ferguson."

I leave you with a few lines from the poem, written in 1757 by the Reverend Doctor Smith in honor of Elizabeth's February birthday:
The Graces smil'd upon her Birth;
The Cupids smote the Soul of Earth,
The fluttering [flattering?] Songsters sought the Grove;
Their Hearts to plight in Annual love
And vowd for each succeeding Year
To give that Night to Joy sincere.

Up Next

Today, February 11

  • StoryTime (in-person), 10:30-11:30 am, The State Museum of PA
    • Read "One Dog Sleigh" by Mary Casanova, learn about sleighs, and create your own jingle bells; for kids age 2 to pre-K and included in regular admission (StoryTime info)
  • Learn at Lunchtime (virtual), 12:15-12:45 pm, The State Museum of PA
    • Award-winning wildlife photographer and filmmaker Tracy Graziano will discuss documenting animals in their habitats; program is free, but you must register to receive the link (Learn at Lunchtime info and registration)

Tuesday, February 15

  • Boom Heritage Oil and Lumber series (virtual), 6:30-7:30 pm

Wednesday, February 16

  • Explore! (in-person), 11:30 am-12:30 pm, The State Museum of PA
    • Explore the causes, distribution, and control of germs; for kids in grades 3-5 and included in regular admission; space is limited, so please sign up at the Ground Floor Info Desk when you arrive (Explore! info)

Thursday, February 17

  • Winter History Class (virtual), 9 am-noon, Ephrata Cloister
    • Today's topics are "Religious Ideas that Influenced Conrad Beissel" and "Colonial Watermarks: Art, Identifiers, and Puzzle Solvers"; if you're not signed up for the full course, you can watch today's session via Zoom for $10 (Winter History Class info)
  • Family Gallery Tour: Paleontology (in-person), 11:30 am-12:30 pm, The State Museum of PA
    • Join museum educators for a family-friendly tour featuring hands-on fossils of plants and animals from the Carboniferous Period; included in regular admission (Gallery Tour info)
  • Drake Well Winter Academy (virtual), 6:30-7:30 pm, Drake Well Museum & Park
    • Natalie Pekney, an environmental engineer with the U.S. Dept. of Energy, will discuss a study of abandoned oil wells at Oil Creek State Park; program is free, but you must register to receive the link (Drake Winter Academy Zoom registration)

Friday, February 18

  • Snow-mobility Weekend (in-person), 10:00 am-4 pm, Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
    • Ride your snowmobile from Susquehannock State Forest to the museum today, tomorrow, and Sunday (10 am-4 pm each day). Enjoy a pancake breakfast tomorrow only (10 am-2 pm) in the visitor center (Snow-mobility details)

Advance Tickets or Registrations

  • Ephrata Cloister's Winter History Class continues each Thursday morning from 9 am to noon through March 31; if you didn't sign up for the full 9-week course, you can register to attend individual sessions via Zoom for $10 each (Ephrata Cloister website)
  • Graeme Park presents "The Dead of Winter" on Feb. 19 at 5:30 and 7 pm; the program reenacts an early 20th-century seance and explores the history behind this popular form of spiritualism; space is limited and advance reservations are required (Eventbrite link for info and tickets)
  • Railroad Museum of PA will lower light and noise levels for in-person visitors from 3 to 5 pm on Feb. 22 and present a virtual guided tour of three historic wooden passenger cars that evening from 7 to 9 pm. Both require advance registration (sensory hours registration and virtual tour registration)
  • The next PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase will take place on Feb. 24 at 7 pm with the theme "Unique and Rare Objects"; program is free, but you must register to get the link (Collections Showcase registration)
  • Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, in cooperation with the Potter County Conservation District, will host "Conservationist Gardener Workshop" on March 4, 11 am-12:30 pm; the workshop is free and in-person, but you must contact the Conservation District to register (Conservation workshop info)
  • Rails and Ales: enjoy an evening of craft beer among the museum's historic trains at the Railroad Museum of PA, April 9, 5:30-9 pm; must be 21 or older to attend; variety of ticket options (VIP tickets are sold out), including designated driver tickets (Rails and Ales tickets)
  • Drake Well Marathon, August 14 - this race is a Boston Marathon qualifier. Registration for a variety of categories is now open.


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