A Class I Historic Resource in Schuylkill Township - buildings or structures or districts, listed in or determined eligible to the National Register of Historic Places.
Schuylkill Township Zoning Ordinance.
A large Penn land grant went to Charles Pickering in 1862. At his death, he left the land to 16 associates one of whom was John Moore with wife Rebecca. John was a collector for the Port of Philadelphia and a member of the Pickering Company. His portion was 340 acres adjoining the Pickering Creek and the Schuylkill River.
In 1729, John was to deed the land to son William Moore who was considered a gentleman of Charlestown Township. He built a frame house and saw mill and the Bull Tavern, a famous Colonial hostelry. By 1740, the present stone house was built. It remains the oldest Georgian-style house in Chester County.
William’s career is quite lengthy. He served in the General Assembly for Pennsylvania. By 1741, the governor of PA appointed him Justice of Peace of the County Court where he served to 1757. In 1748, Moore was a Colonel for the regiment “Associators” during the French and Indian Wars. 1762-65 saw him as County Assessor for Elections and 1764-79 as Council member and a Justice of the Court of Common Pleas in Chester County. He was a judge for 30 years. Moore remained loyal to King and Country (Great Britain) which did cause concern with his fellow citizens.
From 1756-57, complaints were voiced against him including tyranny and injustice. He was ordered arrested and imprisoned in Philadelphia. In three months, the governor and King intervened and he was released. He remained an ardent Tory at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War and was known for his aristocratic behavior and cultural ties to England.
During the Revolutionary War, large homes were commandeered as officers’ quarters and so was Moore Hall. Moore and his wife were relegated to a few rooms on an upper floor. General Nathaniel Greene and staff, as well as others of the quartermasters department were housed here. Colonial Clement Biddle was also headquartered here.
Between January and April 1778, six delegates from the Committee of Congress used Moore Hall. (The Continental Congress was in session in York, PA) They were to assist General George Washington with improvements to the Continental Army. Washington rode the 3 miles between the Valley Forge Encampment and Moore Hall to confer with the delegates.
William Moore died at 84 years of age in 1783 – three months before the Treaty of Peace ended the war. He left his estate to his wife. Thomas W. Smith purchased Moore Hall in 1794 and other owners followed including James Wood. By 1826, the area became known as Schuylkill Township having been divided from Charlestown Township. In 1884, Anna M. W. Pennypacker purchased the estate and owned it for the next 52 years. It became the summer residence of Governor Samuel W. Pennypacker. The next owner was Frank Weiland who, in 1930, retained G. Edwin Brumbaugh, architect, who renovated the house adding the Colonial Revival section to complete the original Georgian style and restoring it to fit the 1819 descriptions of the house.
Today, Moore Hall is privately owned and cared for. It is surrounded by farm fields plus a subdivision developed in 1998.
Built in the mid 18th century, Moore Hall possesses a sense of finesse and formal proportion rare in that period in Chester County. While Georgian in style, Federal and Colonial Revival architectural style influenced later renovations.
Moore Hall is a large substantial stone house with four rooms and an entry on the lower floor and five rooms on the upper floor. There is a large hall and kitchen. Originally there were other stone houses on the property along with the mill, barn, wagon house and other agricultural outbuildings.
The field stone house is two and a half stories in height, 5 bays across and three bays deep at the gable ends. In plan, it consists of a deep center hall flanked by two rooms on each side, with a kitchen wing to the west.
The windows on both the first and second floors are six-on-six lights. At the attic level on both front and rear elevations are two arched dormers of six-on-six lights. All first floor windows are framed by paneled shutters and topped by arched recesses within the fieldstone wall. Second floor windows of the front and side elevations also have paneled exterior shutters.
The doors on the south and west elevations of the main section are paneled with rectangular transoms above which are characteristic of the Early Georgian architecture. The freestanding portico with Ionic columns and pilasters is not original and believed added in a 20th century restoration.
The front evaluation is coursed fieldstone while the less formal rear and side elevations are random fieldstone. The gradation of stone sizes from larger at the foundation to smaller at the eaves augments the strong sense of formal proportion.
The interior detailing is very fine and largely original. There are chair rails, wide board flooring and doorways with earred architraves. Two Doric reeded columns are in the hall and the stairway has scrolled risers. There is a carved marble fireplace flanked by arched doorways with shell motif keyblocks.
Alterations include transforming two small rooms into one large room and adding a one-story porch the full length of the south evaluation. An 1890 view shows the house covered with stucco which is one gone. The 1930’s sun porch was added to the east elevation.