Restoration and Reconstruction of the Nineteenth Century Farmhouse
Through a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), DFCLT has recently completed a Historic Structures Report on the nineteenth century farmhouse (built circa 1825) on the site. With this report, we are currently raising money for the restoration and reconstruction of the fragile farmhouse for reuse as a museum. Visitors will have an opportunity to tour permanent exhibitions in the house, including vintage photographs, 19th century family artifacts, a Perkins-Dennis Family Tree similar to the Perkins-Dennis Family Family Tree in the exhibit about the family in the Smithsonian’s exhibition, Through the African American Lens; and a timeline of the generations of the Dennis Family within the context of the historical times in which they lived.
Photo left: Students from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania attend the Dennis Farm Symposium in 2014.
Photo right: Landscape Architecture students from Pennsylvania State University, University Park on a field trip to the farm in 2013.
We plan to continue to develop educational programs on subjects related to the farm, from History to the Environment.
Education is central to the Dennis Farm Charitable Land Trust’s mission. We have an ongoing partnership with Keystone College in La Plume, PA, which is near the farm. Trained student docents from Keystone give tours of the farm to our visitors, Keystone College hosts our annual symposium program and luncheon, after which attendees who come from the local community, across the Commonwealth, and out-of-state tour the farm, and the college has hosted two Dennis
- We have had individual educational programs with various colleges and universities. In 2008 and 2009, the State University of New York (SUNY) Binghamton’s Department of Anthropology conducted an archaeological field school at the farm. Under the direction of doctoral candidate, John R. Roby, Binghamton students excavated approximately 10,000 artifacts. Roby’s dissertation, Memory, Practice and Process at the Perkins-Dennis Farm, a 19th Century Free African American Farmstead in Susquehanna County, PA is based on his work at the Dennis Farm. Since receiving his dissertation he has been teaching and co-edited a book Excavating Memory that includes a chapter about the Dennis Farm.
- The Dennis Farm Charitable Land Trust has partnered with Drexel University, Pennsylvania State University at University Park, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Delaware on individual programs and projects.
The farm offers infinite educational opportunities. For example, we would like to work with a university on identifying the species thriving in the wetlands on the farm and to identify and catalogue the variety of wildflowers in the farm’s copious fields.
- With the guidance of DFCLT Board members Patrice Jeppson, PhD, and Wade Catts, MA, RPA, we are currently working with the Superintendent of the Mountain View School District to develop an educational program that will include the history of the Dennis Farm in the local curriculum. In 2018, we will also meet with representatives of the School District of Philadelphia to develop a plan for incorporating the history of the farm in the Philadelphia elementary and secondary school curricula.
- We are also seeking funding that will enable us to transport elementary school students to the farm on field trips where they will experience the countryside first hand and learn the farm’s history.
In 2019, the DFCLT, a non-profit 501(c)(3), was a recipient of the prestigious Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The DFCLT is using the grant and matching funds to restore, rebuild, and repurpose the 195-year-old Dennis Farmhouse as a museum that tells the story of this unique, historical, and beautiful 153-acre site, founded by a Free African American family more than 200 years ago, located in the scenic Endless Mountains of Northeast Pennsylvania. The NEH grant will provide $400,000 to the DFCLT, however in order to receive these funds, DFCLT is responsible for raising $1,200,000. We need your help to meet our National Endowment for the Humanities $400,000 3x matching grant to transform the 19th century Dennis Farmhouse to a museum open to the public.
For a preview of the architectural plan for the Farmhouse restoration and museum, click onto the link.