News Of History

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Restoration of an early Nineteenth Century industrial area along the Brandywine Creek has recently been undertaken by the Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation of Wilmington, Delaware. On a 168-acre tract where Eleuthère Irénée du Pont founded the Du Pont powder works in 1802, the Foundation is now establishing an industrial museum which will portray the extensive milling operations of flour, paper, textiles, and gunpowder that once flourished along the Brandywine. Also planned are the reconstruction of some of the early Du Pont powder mills.

In co-operation with the University of Delaware the Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation has established two $1,800 fellowships in American history available to candidates for the master of arts degree. Fellows spend half of each week in the research and museum activities of the Foundation and the remainder in study at the University of Delaware.

Dr. Walter J. Heacock, formerly at Colonial Williamsburg, is directing the Foundation’s restoration and research.

Berea College in Kentucky will celebrate its centennial this year by presenting Paul Green’s newest historical drama, Wilderness Road , in a series of sixty performances beginning June 25. At the base of Old Indian Fort Mountain in Berea Forest a new outdoor theater has been designed and constructed for the occasion.

Indian Fort is probably the oldest fortified mountain in the United States. Its sides are precipitous stone cliffs, at places almost 200 feet high. There was one main approach and perhaps four other open approaches to this mountain top, which when fortified made it almost impregnable. The top of the mountain is a level mesa of some 200 acres.

Remains of seventeen walls have been discovered, behind many of which are piles of stones—a form of ammunition of these early warriors. At least one rock cave and traces of others have been discovered, which were evidently burial places for the dead. Several rock houses have been found beneath whose sandy floors the dead were laid away several thousand years ago.

This Indian Fort, half a mile away, towers above the Centennial Theatre where the story of the beginning of our Westward movement will be told. As in the case of his now-famous Lost Colony and The Common Glory , Mr. Green’s drama will be presented on the site where many of the historic events it relates actually occurred.

The vine-covered ruins of the Alcazar, palace of Columbus, will be restored to their original splendor by the Dominican Republic government this year. Built by Diego, son of Christopher Columbus, the 450-year-old palace will be restored as an international museum and repository of relics of the Knights of Columbus fraternal order. Four prominent Spanish architects have been commissioned for the reconstruction.

Started in 1510, the palace is widely regarded as perhaps the most eloquent example of the architecture that Spain transplanted to the New World.

Built of massive coral rock, stones, tile, and brick by master workmen from Spain, the Alcazar has Romanesque windows, with stone Gothic seats or poyos against the walls. Festooned and multiple Isabeline-style arches are numerous, along with Doric arches whose capitals are of tile in accordance with the Renaissance fashion. Over the portals are raised designs, filagree work, in the form of vines and leaves.

In the early 1500’s, using the Alcazar as a jumping-off base, Balboa discovered the Pacific, Ponce de Leon colonized Puerto Rico and discovered Florida, Pizarro conquered Peru, and Cortez settled Mexico. The palace saw the rise and fall of the great Spanish empire, and in its heyday was an imposing flower-surrounded showplace. The historian, Ganzalo Fernandez de Oviedo, wrote then that he had never seen anything to compare with it in Spain.

With headquarters in the James Monroe Law Office and Museum in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the James Monroe Memorial Foundation is conducting a campaign which will establish a complete reference library on James Monroe and the Monroe Doctrine. The library, on a smaller scale, will be similar to the Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and proposed Harry S. Truman libraries.

A museum since 1927, the Law Office is filled with mementoes of Monroe’s career. In the course of his travels in this country and abroad, he accumulated beautiful furniture, silver, china, porcelains, portraits, and statuary, much of which has now come to the museum. A new wing will be added to the building to house the library. In addition to thousands of books relating to Monroe, there will be a large portion of Monroe’s original correspondence with other prominent men of his day on important issues of that period. The library will be made available to students of history of both this country and the South American republics.

The James Monroe Memorial Foundation hopes this work will be completed by April 28, 1958, the bi-centennial of James Monroe’s birth.

Interested citizens in and around Towanda, Pennsylvania, have formed French Azilum, Inc., to restore the French refugee village of Azilum, which was in existence from 1793 to 1803. The corporation will purchase property, erect buildings, and otherwise carry on the restoration. Plans are being made for the production of pageants and the publication of books and pamphlets.

The first attempt at restoration probably will be in connection with La Grande Maison, or “Queen’s House,” which was intended as a home for Queen Marie Antoinette. Two stories high and eighty feet long, this was reported to have been the largest log house ever constructed in America.

The site of Azilum is already a popular point of historic interest.

Vermont has established a Memorial House at North Fairfield marking the site of the birthplace of President Chester A. Arthur. The house is not an exact reconstruction of the original but is based on an old photograph which gives a clue as to its size and shape. A park of some twenty acres surrounds the house.

Arthur was born in Fairfield, October 5, 1830, but his family moved to New York state when he was quite young. As a young man, however, the future President returned to Vermont to serve for a time as principal of an academy in Williston.

A monument was erected in 1903 at the site of the birthplace and was the sole reminder of the importance of the spot until the present house was erected. It will be furnished with items of Arthur’s early period. No written description of the original house exists and no one is living who can remember it.

A minor historical feud began recently when restoration of the “first iron works in this country” at Saugus, Massachusetts, was announced. Some eighty men, it was reported, operated the iron works from about 1646 to 1670 and the restoration has cost a million and a half dollars.

George H. Kernodle, of Washington, D.C., an antique dealer who does occasional historical research for the National Park Service, registered his objection to Massachusetts’ claim in the Washington Post and Times Herald . The country’s first iron works, Kernodle maintains, were established in 1621 at Falling Creek, six miles south of Richmond, Virginia. The Falling Creek iron works, 66 miles from Jamestown, was an operation of the Virginia Company which founded the Jamestown colony. Among the victims of the Indian massacre of March 22, 1622, Kernodle points out, were 25 iron workers at Falling Creek.

The Lincoln-Free Press Memorial Association has completed its share of the project of restoring the first newspaper plant in the Indiana Territory at Vincennes. The building has now been turned over to the Indiana Department of Conservation for maintenance and visitor reception. Elihu Stout established the Indiana Gazette at Vincennes in the summer of 1804. His printing office was burned out in April, 1806, and in 1807 he began the publication of the Western Sun which continued until about 1925.