If you love history like I do, you must visit LancasterHistory.org.
Located outside Downtown Lancaster, the LancasterHistory.org campus includes the historic grounds and gardens of Wheatland (President James Buchanan’s home), the Louise Arnold Tanger Arboretum (featuring more than 100 species of trees from around the world), and the headquarters of the Lancaster County’s Historical Society (including 15,000 objects, 45,000 historic photographs, and 1 million archival manuscripts).
Wheatland is the historic house museum of the 15th President of the United States, James Buchanan, the only bachelor president and only one from Pennsylvania. You will start your tour at the Wheatland Visitor Center where you can see on display rare political memorabilia and personal artifacts belonging to Buchanan and other members of the Buchanan family and watch a short introductory film in preparation for your tour. Your knowledgeable guide will take you through both the public and private rooms of the Federal style mansion, giving glimpses into Buchanan’s everyday life both as a public servant and family man. Unlike many other house museum, Wheatland has historically precise rooms and many original artifacts.
The Historical Society’s research library houses documentation of births, deaths, divorces, as well as tax records, ownership records, directories, and maps. Not only to guests to the library have access to these documents and records, they can also use the library’s Ancestory.com membership to research genealogy. Want to learn more about Lancaster County’s history and how your family may be connected? This is the place to start. If you get stuck, helpful staff members are ready and eager to assist. The current Historical Society exhibit is “Country, Commonwealth, and Country, A Guide to the Exhibition.” It intertwines the stories of Lancaster, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the United States of America. If you venture downstairs, you can get a glimpse, through an observation window, of their collection in storage.
While you’re on site, be sure to check out the frog pond next to the campus entrance. Although now artificial, it’s where Buchanan’s spring-fed pond was once located. It was his favorite place to sit and reflect. And don’t miss the green ash tree next to the drive way near the corner of Wheatland – it’s estimated to be over 350 years old!
Before you leave, stop by the museum store for your choice of historical books, period art, local goods, and more. Don’t leave without a treasure to take home.
Visit www.lancasterhistory.org to learn about special events, tours, exhibitions, lectures, and more. And remember, for those history buffs who are impossible to buy for, yearly memberships are available!