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Estelle Cremers collection on Welkinweir


Held at: Welkinweir [Contact Us]1368 Prizer Road, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, 19465

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Welkinweir. 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

Estelle Cremers (1925-2010) was a historian in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, who served as the executrix for Grace Rodebaugh and her property, Welkinweir (East Nantmeal Township, Chester County, Pa.)

Estelle was born to David and Elsie (Robinson) Harrop in Phoenixville, Pa. in 1925 and married William L. Cremers, Jr. Active in historic preservation, she was past chairperson for the Historical Commission of Warwick Township, helped develop the French and Pickering Creek Trust, and wrote five books on local townships. She was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Chester County and received several other awards for her historical preservation work. She was also an accomplished vocalist, graduating from the Curtis Institute of Music for voice. After winning the Voice of Tomorrow competition, she sang at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia in 1949. ("Cremers" obituary)

Estelle was a trusted friend and the executrix of Grace Rodebaugh. Born Grace M. Haspel in 1905, Grace married her high school sweetheart, Everett Rodebaugh in 1925. In 1935 they purchased an aging farm in Chester County, Pa., renamed it Welkinweir, and made significant improvements to the house structure and landscape.

"Having no children, the Rodebaughs decided in 1978 to divest themselves of ownership of the property but maintain lifetime rights. It was first given to West Chester State College [now West Chester University] with a large endowment for maintenance. The college used it [at first for uses such as] environmental courses, musicals, and conferences, [until a controversy developed regarding ownership and use of the site]. Everett Rodebaugh died in 1983, and in 1985, the property was transferred under the same conditions to Natural Lands Trust, a local conservation organization, who held it until 1997 with Green Valleys Association [another local environmental preservation organization, started by the Rodebaughs] holding a conservation easement on the lands. Wishing only to hold title to open space and unwilling to maintain the mansion and arboretum, Natural Lands Trust and Green Valleys Association traded positions of owner and easement holder. Grace Rodebaugh died in June, 1999, at which date full ownership was vested in Green Valley Association." (Cremers, NRHP nomination form)

After Grace's death, Estelle continued to work to fulfill her vision for Welkinweir. She helped establish an endowment for Welkinweir, served on the Welkinweir Management Committee and Welkinweir Master Planning Committee, and successfully nominated Welkinweir for the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.


Quoted text from: Cremers, Estelle. "National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form: Welkinweir." January 23, 2001. Accessed October 17, 2013.

"Estelle Cremers" obituary. Pottstown Mercury, November 30, 2010. Accessed October 17, 2013.

Funk, John. "Remembering Estelle Cremers." Streamlines from Green Valleys Association at Welkinweir, Volume 46, Issue 1 (Winter 2011): 2. Accessed October 17, 2013.

This collection consists of various materials compiled by Estelle Cremers about Welkinweir and the Rodebaugh estate, especially regarding her duty as Grace Rodebaugh's executrix. It includes several copies of Grace's will, letters and documents relating to Grace's finances, documents about the donation of Welkinweir to West Chester State College and resultant controversy, materials relating to establishing Welkinweir as an historic site, inventories and other papers relating to Welkinweir, and photographs and slides of the property.

Other documents relating to the stewardship of Welkinweir exist on site as part of the early records of the Green Valleys Association.

Gift of Estelle Cremers.

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 Welkinweir directly for more information.

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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