Lancaster County PA Realty Check: Pennsylvania: Willow Street

The 1719 Hans Herr House, Willow Street, PA

The 1719 Hans Herr House, Willow Street, PA

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania was originally part of Chester County, the westernmost of the three original Pennsylvania counties.  In 1711 the first Mennonite settlement was established, the Mennonites having passed through Germantown on their way west.  One of the homes built in the "Conestogoe" Mennonite Settlement, named after the Conestoga Indians, was the Hans Herr house.  By 1733 a "king's highway" had been completed, connecting from Philadelphia through Chester to Lancaster.  The original Mennonite settlement, once having been on the main route for anyone passing west, was now isolated.                 Hans Herr House

The Hans Herr house, built in 1719 by his son Christian, is the oldest still-standing European home in what is now Lancaster County, having been carved out of Chester County in 1729.  It is also the oldest still-standing Mennonite meeting house in the western hemisphere.

The Hans Herr House

In 1710 a settlement of 10,000 acres was granted by William Penn (1644-1718), the founder of Pennsylvania, to nine Mennonite men.  William Penn had established the Pennsylvania colony to provide sanctuary for persecuted religions.  Penn himself had been granted the charter to all of Pennsylvania (which means "Penn's Woods") to settle a debt that King Charles II owed to Penn's father.

                                                          William Penn

In 1711 seven of these men and their families moved out to settle their homes on the then western edge of Pennsylvania. The Hans Herr house itself was home to generations of the Herr family until about 1860, when it  went into use as a barn and storage shed.  In the 1970s it was restored to its original colonial appearance, and is now part of a museum complex including three Pennsylvania German farmhouses, barns and outbuildings, and a collection of early farm equipment spanning several centuries.

                              Horses graze near the Hans Herr House

The Hans Herr House is located at 1849 Hans Herr Drive in Willow Street, PA.  It is one of the most well-known dwellings in Lancaster County.  Andrew Wyeth, himself a relative of the Herrs, created a famous painting of the  house.

 

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Comment balloon 8 commentsBrian Schulman • May 17 2007 10:57PM
The 1719 Hans Herr House, Willow Street, PA
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The 1719 Hans Herr House, Willow Street, PA Lancaster County, Pennsylvania was originally part of Chester County, the westernmost of the three original Pennsylvania counties. In 1711 the first Mennonite settlement was established, the… more