The PA Dutch Woodworking Tradition
Someone once asked about Amish woodworking.
First off there is a very strong German
heritage throughout Eastern and central PA.
Commonly known as the PA Dutch (Deutsch),
of which the Mennonites and Amish are a part
of. There is stylistically, a noticable PA
Dutch woodworking tradition. Many of the pieces
were walnut, painting and inlaying were
widely used. The Seltzer brothers, especially
Christian of Lebanon are known as the premier
artists in the field of painted dower boxes.
The active tradition spans from the early days of
settlement (early 1700's) until after the
Civil war. If you visit the Lancaster PA area (and have
time for more than the weekend tour of all
of the hot tool spots, here are some places of
interest to learn about this style of woodworking.
Daniel Boone Homestead - Birdsboro PA (Reading
area) (*) Info
Ephrata Cloister - Ephrata PA (*) This
was a monastic society that was active from the
1730-40's to the early 1800's. They led a
very severe lifestyle (even more so than the Shakers).
There are several case work pieces on display,
plus lots of timber-frame and early construction.
They used iron as little as possible in their
woodwork, so many pieces have wooden hinges. Info
Landis Valley Farm - Lancaster PA (*)
Two brothers collected very heavily of the PA Dutch
heritage, buildings, tools, woodwork, etc.
They donated the site to the State. It is run as a learning
center. Some "recreater" types, last
woodworker I saw there didn't impress me, but I haven't
been there in a couple of years. The blacksmith
and tinsmith's are good. There is also a cooper
there on weekends who is very good.
Hershey Museum - Hershey PA. General
museum but with an emphasis on PA. Home of the
Apostolic Clock, a large very complicated
clock built in the 1870s (m/l) Info
PA State Museum - Harrisburg PA (*) Furniture
exhibits, plus a fully setup (although you can't touch)
example of a chairmakers and a tinners shop.
Lebanon County Historical Society - Lebanon
PA. Good exhibits, including a nice angled leg vice
The sites marked with a (*) are run by the
State Historical and Museum Commission and are not
open on Mondays.
Last but not least, if you are a history buff,
try to spend a couple of hours in Gettysburg.
It is worth the visit.
Last Updated 4/29/2003