The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 12, 2013

Joseph Priestley House: A treasure of Pennsylvania history


Daily Item

---- — The Friends of Joseph Priestley House thank The Daily Item for continuing coverage of our volunteer effort to keep the house open for tours.

Well-known in scientific circles, Priestley House regularly attracts visitors from across the United States. As your reporter noted in a Nov. 4 article, nine science teachers came from Long Island, N.Y., last Sunday to attend our Heritage Day program. Many of our 800 visitors this year lived in the Central Susquehanna Valley, but others came from other states.

The discoverer of both oxygen and carbonation, Joseph Priestley was a world-famous scientist when he and his wife Mary left England because of religious and political persecution in 1794. Settling in Northumberland, the Priestleys had carpenters construct a fine English-style mansion at a time when nearly all other buildings in the valley were made of logs.

Owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the house was closed briefly in 2009 when the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission furloughed its professional staff in an austerity move. Our organization eventually reopened Priestley House after working out a management agreement with the commission.

We have a loyal team of about 20 -- all volunteers. Their enthusiastic participation allows us to open the house for tours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from March through November. Some conduct tours; others staff the visitors center. Still others work in other areas.

By covering our events, your newspaper makes your readers aware of our activities. Your articles encourage Valley residents to visit Priestley House and occasionally inspire people to volunteer. We appreciate this.

Tom Bresenhan, President, The Friends of Joseph Priestley House