Pine Forge Celebrates Hopewell Furnace and its 300 Years of Iron and Steel
Written by Vanessa Wilson
The National Park Service was created on August 25, 1916 and today remains one of the events slated throughout Pennsylvania’s tri-county regions. National Park units across the nation, including Hopewell Furnace, are celebrating this important occasion.
Additionally, the first iron works in Pennsylvania was established at Pine Forge in Berks County in 1716 by Thomas Rutter, a local blacksmith, who became the very first in the state of Pennsylvania to erect an iron ore bloomery. His beginning works were called Rutter’s Bloomery. Ironically, Thomas Rutter, a conductor of the Underground Railroad provided a safe haven and employment opportunities to the slaves at the Manor House which sits on the historic grounds of Pine Forge Academy, a historically Black boarding institution.
On Thursday, August 25, Phyllis Mitchell, President of the Pine Forge Historical Society and Thomas Rutter Foundation, shared remarks during the celebratory ceremony memoirs about the founding of the alliances formed between the Rutters and Pine Forge Academy. Stephen Richardson, Allegheny East Conference Ministerial Director shared long-standing momentums on the continuum of events occurring in succession leading from the past to the present of the significant milestones in our history.
The Negro National Anthem has deep roots in American history and is very sacred to African Americans. Thusly, the Pine Forge Academy Choir, under the auspices of Dr. Andrew Marshall, sang their signature opener “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” penned by James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson in 1900 to commemorate the freeing of the slaves. This musical rendition received accolades and ovations for its artsy performance among the diverse repertoire shared with onlookers.
Additional Allegheny East Conference and Pine Forge Academy personnel were supporting attendees (Cynthia Poole, AEC Associate Superintendent; A. Pearlita Jones, Archivist; Lincoln Fields, PFA Student Press Photographer and Vanessa Wilson, PFA History Teacher).
The celebration concluded with community presenters who also expressed sentiments for the Iron and Steel Corporation. As a result of this established partnership, Pine Forge Academy welcomes the opportunity to be a part in the future.