Wednesday, August 31, 2005

History is not just in Center City

At one point, this past Saturday, before the skies opened up, we decided to go on a nature walk. And oh me oh my, we have a park in the NE - Pennypack Park! I've lived in the city for over three decades and I have never voluntarily walked through Pennypack (the Northeast uses it for walk-a-thons. Don't know if that still happens). So this was a first for me.

It was a nice little walk; it didn't last long. The skies were looking a bit threatening. The baby was walking on each...and...every...leaf...on...the...ground. I could tell she wasn't as "in to it" as Geo and I. I mean, she can sprint after a squirrel with the best of them, but not this particular morning.

Geo wanted to stop at the Pennypack Environmental Center to enter some photos he had taken of the park in some photography contest. When we got there, it was closed.


As we were leaving, I took note of this old house that was being renovated. I am talking seriously Veree Houseold. It looked like late 18th century old. Geo told me the last time he was there [at the park], he talked to one of the park guides about it. It belonged to Robert Veree; hence, the name of the house is "Veree House". It is a true historic site! It was raided by British troops during the Revolutionary War. The Fairmont Park Commission is renovating the house and, after renovation, opening it to the public.

I stood there dumbfounded. The guy from Baltimore knew more than the gal from the Northeast.

I thought of the possible route the British soldiers took to get to Veree House. They could have gone up the Delaware River to the opening of Pennypack Creek (which could have possibly resembled more of another river back in the 1700's). They would have sailed or rowed through the park and then spotted the house or one of the house's occupants. Or they could have just marched on up the dirt pathway through the woods that ran right in front of the house. That dirt path is now known as Veree Road. It wasn't all that inconceivable.

"You mean Veree Road is actually named after a person?" I felt like a total doofus. And I claim to be a history buff.

As per the park guide, the area was known for many years as Vereeville. When Geo asked where exactly Vereeville was, the guide said, "You're standing on it."

Vereeville was the land owned by Robert Veree and it now makes up a chunk of Pennypack Park and the neighborhood of Pine Valley. I was taken aback. History does that to me.

When someone asks me about the history of Philadelphia, I normally think of Center City and its many historical sites. Now I realize that Philadephia's rich treasure trove of history extends beyond the boundaries of our city's grid. And it's in the direction of the Northeast.

1 comment:

mdmhvonpa said...

Just behind my house is 232 ... also known as Huntingdon Pike. It's the road that the Brittish marched down on their way to Hatboro to do combat with GW. He marched UP 232 and across Spur Road to get there. I drive that path twice a day every week day. It's amazing.