Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pennsylvania Road Trip - Joseph Priestley House

Our Pennsylvania Road Trip was coming to a close, and as we headed home, we made one last stop, just miles from home in nearby Northumberland, Pennsylvania.  We planned to take the historical tour of the Joseph Priestley House, home of the prolific author who is usually remembered for his discovery of oxygen in England (1774-1775).

The Priestley House was built 1796-1798 by this world famous 18th century intellectual and reflects the lifestyle of this famous discoverer of gases.  He lived there with his family in self-imposed exile until his death in 1804.

The home, on its English manor estate setting, is noted for its federal architectural style and period furniture.  It features a sitting room with a bed of the type in which Priestley died,

and Priestley's laboratory - an early research laboratory in America, along with exhibits of his scientific equipment.  It was in this very lab that Priestley isolated and studied the gas we now know as carbon monoxide.

Also in the home we examined displays of his scientific equipment, including his actual microscope,

and items related to his various other interests and family life in those years.

Buttons made from deer antlers
The rooms and household items in the house are preserved as if the family had just gone away on vacation.

Dining room with period clothing displays

Stairway up to the living quarters of the household help

The family's water well
Dr. Priestley was not only an experimental chemist, but also a theologian and religious reformer, educator, historian, and political theorist.  He had influential communications with John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and other important figures of his time.

Perhaps that is the part of our tour that fascinated me the most - wondering about this man who was both a scientist and a theologian.  I definitely do not agree with all of his religious views, but I certainly went home with some challenging thoughts to mull over.  

After our tour, we headed home from what had been a very pleasant Pennsylvania Road Trip.  When we arrived home, son Caleb assured us that he had definitely liked having the quiet and privacy of the home to himself while we were away.

Caleb, working from home, while lounging in his "monkey" pajamas.  Sometimes it's hard to take this guy too seriously.
So, we are going to kindly respect his preferences, and travel more.

Starting tomorrow.  Yay!

This next trip will be a camping/sightseeing extravaganza.

Yes, the camper has been loaded and is ready to roll south.  We're heading to a campground outside of Washington D.C.  We'll be there just about a week, and we plan to explore some of the museums and other sites we haven't ever visited before.

Stay tuned and follow along!

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful and interesting tour. Sure looks like a nice old home too.

    It always amazes me that these guys could discover and invent so many things just with the primitive equipment they had. I wonder what they could do today??