Valley Forge’s Civil War Past

It seems like there is so much to learn about the Philadelphia area. My muse, in the form of my SO, has been here all his life. He grew up in Philadelphia and then moved to King of Prussia at the tender age of 18 before the huge developments took over in the form of King of Prussia Mall and all that surrounds it. I constantly tease him about his North Philadelphia origins.  I tell him that he actually grew up in Bucks County since his family was able to cross the street and change locations. To say he his a hard core Philly guy is an understatement.  One of my favorite people, Susan, grew up not far from him and they went to high school a few blocks from each other. Philadelphia is indeed a small world.  I love listening to them reminisce about life in Philly.

Allen and I were driving through Valley Forge Park recently. There is a huge building right on 422 near the park’s visitor center which has sat abandoned for quite some time. It was once a restaurant called Kennedy-Supplee and he wondered if something would come of it.  It is quite an imposing building with architectural flair.   The mansion sits silently staring at the traffic on the 422 corridor and Allen wondered about its future and past.  After dinner, we were reclining on the sofa looking for a documentary to watch, Allen began to search for information on the old restaurant. He found a website called  It’s a local organization that seeks to preserve all of the history of the area.  Of course, theis peaked my interest.

I started looking through the website and found some interesting information about the history of the Valley Forge area.  It is well known as the Continental Army’s winter home under the supervision of General George Washington.  Valley Forge Park highlights that history through the preservation of locations and information.  There is so much more to the area than being the winter home of the continental army.  Port Kennedy was an important Civil War era site.

Port Kennedy Village flourished due to limestone production,  The Kennedy family established the village as one of the leading manufacturers of limestone in the US due to its proximity to the Schuylkill River, the canal, and Reading Railroad station.  The village grew to include a three-story hotel, a blast furnace, a stone house, workshops, a Reading Railroad Station, wharfs, a Presbyterian Church with a cemetery and several homes.  The village was named after John Kennedy who owned 14 kilns and several quarries in the area.  The village eventually declined by World War I and 600 people were displaced and 160 structured demolished when Valley Forge Park expanded.  The park grew to 1500 acres when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania declared the park should encompass the area that George Washington occupied including his army’s outposts.  The mansion, railroad station, church/cemetery, and one house are all that remains of Port Kennedy.

Kennedy built his Victorian Italianate home  “Kenhurst” in 1852, which he used to promote the use of lime based plaster. The property included a barn which was not only used for agriculture but for monthly livestock auctions.  Kennedy was involved in agriculture and livestock through the Montgomery County Agricultural Society and the Montgomery County Grange.   He was a community leader through his involvement with Port Kennedy Bridge Company, which developed a bridge connection between Port Kennedy and the Betzwood area, the Farmer’s and Merchant’s Bank in Phoenixville, and the Upper Merion Township School District.  Kennedy died of a heart attack in 1877 and the property was willed to his son.  Kennedy’s widow, Margaret, continued to live there until her death in 1886.

Kennedy-Supplee Mansion (NPS picture)

The mansion has gone through several changes and owners.  It’s future is yet decided.  This is not a location that offers tours or entry, so, be aware of potential trespassing.  Hopefully, I will be able to update this blog with news on this grand mansion’s revival.

1852-1860:  John Kennedy built Kenhurst

1911 to 1936:  J. Henderson Supplee (died as the last Civil War veteran in Montgomery County).

1919:  Port Kennedy was acquired by the NPS through eminent domain in order to expand Valley Forge Park when the VF Park Commission received a 250,000 grant to condemn the village.

Port Kennedy Inn

1950’s:  An apartment building

1960s:  The construction of the 422 corridor divided the property

1976:  Valley Forge State Park became Valley Forge National Historic Park

1978: The National Park Service acquired the property through eminent domain.  The mansion was  used as housing for park employees.

1983 (June 21):  The Kennedy-Supplee Mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

1986: Kennedy Supplee Associates LP signed a 55-year lease with the NPS and began restoration.

1983-2004: The national historic landmark opened as a 130 seat restaurant called the Kennedy-Supplee Mansion Restaurant.

2004:  The VF Park Commission drafted a ‘request for proposal’ to lease the national historic landmark

2005:  The Kennedy-Supplee Associates entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy

2006:  The VF Park Commission held an open house inspection for prospective bidders

2006:  The Kennedy-Supplee Associates auctioned off all assets

2007:  The VF Park Commission selected Piazza Management and Thomas Drauschak’s lease proposal as a restaurant, professional offices, special events, and conferences and catering.  The company operates the Westover Country Club in West Norriton.

2022:  Projected completion of the Kennedy-Supplee project




John Kennedy

Port Kennedy’s Demise,_Pennsylvania


Abandoned WWII POW camps

I am shocked.  I was researching some sites for future trips and tours when I stumbled across some interesting locations at  Some I had seen before but most I hadn’t and the one that caught my eye was the Camp Michaux/Pine Grove Furnace Prisoner of War Interrogation Camp in Michaux State Forest in Fayetteville, Pennsylvania.  I have found it called by both names but it looks like it was officially name is Camp Michaux.  Camp Michaux is 1 of 9 POW locations in Pennsylvania.

There were POW camps in 47 states and imprisoned 425,871 German, Italian and Japanese prisoners.  Most camps were in the South due to the cost of heating.  The state with the most camps was California with 106 and then Texas with 80.  All enlisted men received a space equal to that of a conscripted US solider, officers received larger accommodations and the 43 captured generals and admirals stayed in private bungalows.  The US strictly followed Geneva Convention guidelines and ensured that prisoners received, food, housing, weather appropriate clothing, and medical care.  Perks like beer, wine, recreational and religious facilities, and entertainment were provided.  Most prisoners were allowed to visit nearby towns.


Prisoners were expected to work as long as it was non-war related due to a labor shortage.  Approximately 90% of the Italians POWs volunteered for the Italian Services Unit and worked on Army depots, in arsenals and hospitals, and on farms.  Prisoners were paid which allowed them to purchase extras like beer and wine and to take money home after the war.  Some prisoners were loyal Nazis and later on in the war segregated into special camps to protect prisoners who the loyalists felt were too friendly with the Americans.  Camp Huntsville in Texas and Camp Alva in Oklahoma were two of the first segregated camps for loyal Nazis.  Escapes occurred and more than not the prisoners were caught.  Two prisoners escaped after the war was over and hid in the US.  George Gartner avoided capture for 40 years and turned himself over to authorities in 1985.


After the war, the U.S. began to repatriate all POWs.  Some stayed in the US and became citizens while other who were born in the US but conscripted while in Italy and Germany before US involvement were deported to those countries to await their citizenship hearings.  Some prisoners did not want to return because they lost their homes to the war or were in soviet controlled areas and some were killed upon return to the Soviet Union.  Some POW’s married US citizens. These marriages were not allowed in the US and the women were chaperoned  to Italy to marry after which they were allowed to bring their new husbands back to the US.


This was eyeopening for me.  I knew about the camps in California and didn’t realize how many others were spread across the US.  This has opened up a whole new area of investigation and travel and will I’ll be looking further into this and identifying some spots around the US as part of some future road trips.  For now, Camp Michaux is part of my road trip to Knoxville in October and I am really looking forward to this adventure.



POWs in the USA — 10 Surprising Facts About America’s WW2 Prisoner of War Camps



Camp Huntsdale

Camp Michaux

Camp New Cumberland

Camp Olmsted Field

Camp Reynolds

Camp McMillan Woods

Indiantown Gap Militay Reservation

Valley Forge Military Hospital

Tobyhanna Military Resevation

Abandoned Williamsburg Pottery

I remember going to the Williamsburg Pottery years ago when it was behind the new Pottery strip mall area.  There were old buildings and a greenhouse with so many wonderful plants, garden accessories and random stuff.  It was a fun way to spend some time and find unique items.  I was particularly enamored by the greenhouse and garden section.  I am an avid gardener and am always looking for unique plants and accessories.

In 2012, the old Pottery was abandoned in favor of a new strip mall that houses the same goods.  I drove past it the first time since the parking lot was empty.  I parked and looked up the Pottery and found the changes.  I was interested but concerned since half of the parking lot was blocked off and there were no other cars there.  There are two sections divided by a fountain and there is a view of the old grounds behind the fountain.  The old buildings are still in the back and it abandonment reflects the traffic of the new strip mall.  It was disappointing to see the changes and decline.

I spent about an hour going through what was left of the Pottery.  There were various household items, wine, some plants, outdoor accessories and food items.  Approximately 50% of the new buildings are occupied and it is not stocked like the old Pottery whose shelves were overburdened by product and finds.  The new mall has a small percentage of the old Pottery’s stock and lack the abundance of curiosities that were once there.  I bought a delightful little bunny planter for the front porch, but frankly there was little else.   There were only a few other people there and little prospect of more and I don’t see longevity in this venture.  This is one place to skip In Williamsburg.


Williamsburg Pottery Entrance and an empty lot


A shot towards the empty 1/2 of the mall


A few outdoor items


A peak into an empty store


Wine area with empty shelves


Partially stocked



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