Saturday, February 8, 2014

New Washington Insights at Hopewell

The Landsdowne portrait

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site.

Just in time for Presidents’ Day, Valley Forge National Historical Park Archivist Dona McDermott will shed new insights into the life and times of President George Washington at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site on Sunday, Feb. 9.

Sponsored by the Friends of Hopewell Furnace, the free program will begin at 2 p.m. in the park’s Conference Center.

Using the famous Landsdowne Portrait, McDermott will discuss how Gilbert Stuart included symbols that reflected Washington’s career and legacy.

Stuart painted the portrait in 1796 and it has served as a guide for Presidential portraits ever since.

Dona McDermott manages the extensive archives and collections at Valley Forge.

A 30-year career employee of the National Park Service, McDermott has also worked at Independence Hall and Hopewell Furnace.

Before joining the National Park Service, she worked at the Atwater Kent Museum in Philadelphia and the Peter Wentz Farmstead in Worcester.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Eastern University and a Master of Arts in history and certification in Museum Studies from the University of Delaware.

In 1771, Mark Bird established Hopewell Furnace. Bird raised a militia in support of the American Revolution and sent badly needed supplies to George Washington at Valley Forge during the harsh winter of 1777-1778.

There are numerous records of Hopewell cannon and shot being used by Continental forces during the Revoluntionary War. One hundred and fifteen big guns for the Continental Navy were made at Hopewell, and ten inch morter shells from Hopewell were used in the final battle at Yorktown in 1781.

While at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site visitors are encouraged to go into the village, tour the buildings and learn about the Iron Making Industry and why Hopewell Furnace is important to our nation’s history.

With grounds accessible on Mondays and Tuesdays, the park is fully open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and is located five miles south of Birdsboro, PA, off of Route 345.

For more information stop by the park's visitor center, call 610-582-8773, visit the park's web site at, or contact the park by e-mail at

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