FORTY FORT — Kicking off the summer season, the Nathan Denison House and the Forty Fort Meeting House held open houses Sunday, allowing visitors an opportunity to once again connect with the Wyoming Valley’s significant past.
Taking a glimpse into a household from the 1700, Nathan Denison House on Denison Street, Forty Fort, was established by one of the region’s first 40 settlers from Connecticut.
Originally built in 1769, the home was rebuilt in 1790. With the original kitchen, including a brick oven, fireplace and musket, visitors get a sense of daily life and the dangers of mountain lions, bears and American Indians of the time.
“The Pennamite Indians frequently came through,” said Sherry Emershaw, tour guide.
Many of the original home furnishing are still in the house. From the four-poster bed upstairs to the tall case clock, the possessions show the family’s rise in social status, Emershaw said.
Nathan Denison, a colonel in the local militia, was a businessman and judge who helped in the surrender of Forty Fort to the British.
The Forty Fort Meeting House, meanwhile, is the oldest church edifice in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Built in 1807, the meeting house served the local population in the early 19th century as a worship site for the Congregational, Presbyterian, and Methodist religions, said Nancy Lychos, tour guide.
Religious services at the time would last about three hours.
“The notable residents would sit in the pews downstairs,” said Mary Babcock, tour guide. “Some had family pews. The servants and everyone else sat upstairs.”
The benches upstairs had no back rest on them, Babcock said.
The rich, dark wood in the meeting house is all original white pine, but has darkened over the years.
Last year, Emershaw said, the Nathan Denison House was very busy and the staff is hoping for the same turnout this year.
Lychos of the Meeting House said they did not have much of a turnout for the open house but she believes as the summer proceeds more will visit.