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Craven Hall Historical Society records


Held at: Craven Hall Historical Society [Contact Us]599 Newtown Rd. (Corner of Newtown and Street Roads), Warminster, Pennsylvania, 18974-5211

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Craven Hall Historical Society. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Craven Hall Historical Society is a non-profit organization in Bucks County, Pennsylvania dedicated to historic preservation and history education. It was organized in 1978 as The Citizens for the Preservation of Craven Hall.

Craven Hall is a Federal/Greek Revival home built in stages between 1790 and 1845. The land on which it stands was acquired by William Bingley from William Penn in 1681, later acquired by William Stockdale, and then sold to James (Jacobus) Craven in 1726. In 1798, Giles Graven sold the property to his second-cousin, Harman Vansant. In 1871, the Vansant family sold the property to a kin, Issac Bennett; the Bennett family lived there until 1923. During the 1940s, the Lojeske family ran a commercial vegetable operation on the property and rented the house to three families, including two Japanese/American families released from an interment camp in Arizona after World War II. In 1952, the land was purchased by the Centennial Joint School Board Authority and Craven Hall was used as a junior high school and then as administrative offices for the school system. The house deteriorated and became uninhabitable in the mid-1970s and was abandoned. The Citizens for the Preservation of Craven Hall, Inc. acquired a lease to the building in 1979 and began restoring the property. Craven Hall, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

Adjacent to Craven Hall is the John Fitch Steamboat Museum, formed by the John Fitch Steamboat Museum, Inc. in association with the Craven Hall Historical Society and currently operated by the Historical Society. John Fitch (1743-1798) invented the steamboat in 1785 in Warminster, Pa., and operated the world's first commercial steamboat service. During the summer of 1790, his steamboat made three round trips each week on the Delaware River between Philadelphia, Pa. and Trenton, N.J. Fitch became engaged in disputes over patent and monopoly rights with other inventors. Robert Fulton, who launched his steamboat service decades later but much more profitably, is more widely known than Fitch.


Craven Hall Historical Society. Website. Accessed March 22, 2013.

This collection contains three series: Craven Hall restoration, John Fitch museum, and miscellaneous Historical Society records.

The Craven Hall restoration series includes records created in the process of restoring the building as well as research about Craven Hall, the Vansant family, and other property owners. Records created during the restoration include: budgets, bank statements, and other financial information; architect reports, plans, and specifications; and photographs of Craven Hall and surrounding property before, during, and after restoration work. Research compiled by the Historical Society includes research notes and copies of primary materials gathered in the process of deed searches and family history and genealogy. (Many of the original primary-source materials are held at Spruance Library, Bucks County Historical Society).

The John Fitch Museum series consists of research on John Fitch and materials relating to the construction of the museum. Research on John Fitch includes photocopies of secondary source articles on Fitch and photocopies of primary-source documents with handwritten notes. There are materials relating to the construction of the museum and its exhibition, including museum financial documents, correspondence, exhibit copy, photographs of the museum, and technical drawings of models constructed for the museum. Slides and an associated script about John Fitch, pamphlets, ephemera, newspaper clippings, and printed materials are also included in this series.

The general Craven Hall Historical Society records include administrative records, financial records, and materials relating to Historical Society events. The administrative records include meeting minutes, annual reports, correspondence, membership lists and lists of officers, grant applications, contracts, and other documents. There are also materials relating to individual committees within the Historical Society (such as the Special Events Committee, Repairs Committee, and others). The financial records include fundraising information, insurance documents, and bank statements. There is a large quantity of material relating to Historical Society events, including newspaper clippings, photographs, and pamphlets and ephemera. There are numerous photograph albums and newspaper clippings scrapbooks about the Historical Society in general, its annual festivals, and Craven Hall restoration.

The Historical Society also holds completed forms from a Historic Resource Survey for Warminster Township implemented by the Bucks County Conservancy. The forms include information about the history and features of individual properties in the area, as well as photographs of most of the properties.

Materials created by or collected by the Craven Hall Historical Society at various times.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Craven Hall Historical Society directly for more information.

Craven Hall Historical Society
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Faith Charlton through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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