Isaac Manchester Farm (Day 134)

First – I live no where near this place but it so gives me an excuse for a road trip.
Manchester Farm
52 Manchester Lane
Avella, Pennsylvania

That picture was taken who knows when of some of the Manchester’s on the farm. The Manchester Farm was founded in 1797 by a man named Isaac Manchester. Today it is owned by his 5th great grand daughter Margie. The history tab on their website (which is linked up there with the address) says that Isaac moved here with his wife and their first five children from Newport, Rhode Island and bought the land from Capt. Samuel Teter.They had twelve children in all.

It also says that Isaac began building a three story brick home in 1810 and finished in 1815. There are 8 historic outbuildings on the property. This includes the following: sheep barn, still house (built in 1773 by Capt. Teter), spring house, carriage house, seed house, tool house (built 1800) and the wood shed/hay or bank barn built in 1803. They also have a family crypt on the property. The spring house is a two story building. On the lower level of the building, just to the right of the door is a wheel which was activated by a dog to churn the butter.

This is a WORKING FARM still today. They do not use pesticides and all their cattle is 100% hormone free, antibiotic free and certified organic. They sell USDA certified organic beef, 100% Berkshire pork and USDA certified organic milk. Their goods are sold at several different places in their area and they have a co-op you can buy into. We have those (co-ops) here too – I’ve debated on joining on several occasions. They also provide recipes on their website for various things like hamburger dill pickles, dried cherry chili and corn pudding. There is a Gigi’s blueberry lemon smoothie that I would like to try – sounds yummy!

I say all that to say this: Manchester Farm was listed on America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places this year for a reason I would never have imagined – mining. I could see this if the property was in distress – like buildings crumbling or something of that effect but never would I have thought it would be listed because of mining.

For more than 200 years this has been a working 400 acre farm home to eight generations of Manchester’s lineage. This is the following paragraph on PreservationNation.org about the farm and why it was listed.
In 1917, three Manchester sisters—Alice, Cora and Franceina—sold the mineral rights to most of the farm, excluding only the three acres where their family home and outbuildings stood. Because that sale took place decades before longwall mining—a method of underground extraction that causes the land to drop between four to six feet at the surface—existed, the Manchester sisters could not have imagined the potential damage that would threaten their farm nearly a century later. While the mineral rights under the historic buildings are still in the family’s hands, a coal company plans to mine within close proximity to the protected property, which also jeopardizes the farm’s water supply. The proposal also includes infrastructure additions such as ventilation shafts and access roads, which threaten the farm’s historic setting. There are alternative techniques such as the traditional room and pillar mining, which would provide better protection still for the farm, while allowing mining to occur.

If only those three sisters knew what would be happening around their family farm years later. It may not sound like a big deal to most people but I like visiting historic places and buildings and learning about what when on there. Imagine going here now and seeing 400 acres of unspoiled land still used and then imagine going there after mining has started and access roads were built and the ventilation shafts. Which would you rather prefer?

I don’t know how they can stop the mining from happening – if the family even can – but this farm needs to be protected. Not only because of the historical value of the buildings but the fact that this family still makes a living doing the same thing her 5th great grandfather did. Such a sad thing to see happening. I doubt that I would ever get there to see it the way it is now – before the mining – but it would be nice if I could.

xo – S.J.

Psstt: The picture posted was taken from the Manchester Farm website’s history page. The website is linked under the photo.

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