Saturday, July 11, 2015


This column first appeared in the July 2015 issue of GreeneSPEAK!   

With Liam Corry, Assistant Curator of Agriculture, Ulster-American Folk Park, at the Uriah Hupp log house.

A log house from Greene County, Pennsylvania is a prized building in the Ulster-American Folk Park in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It was built in Clarksville, Greene County, in the 1800s for the Uriah Hupp family.  In 1985, it was dismantled and shipped to Ireland under the supervision of antiques expert Peter Chillingworth of Scenery Hill, PA. There it was re-built in the “New World” section of the open-air museum that tells the story of Irish emigration on both sides of the Atlantic.

View approaching the Hupp log house.   On the right is the Cunningham spring house from Allegheny County, PA.

In Greene County today, it is little known or remembered that this piece of local history is now in Northern Ireland. Even more obscure is knowledge that the American Frontier section of the park is based on Greene County.  In 1973, after being named American advisor to development of the park, Professor Henry Glassie of Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, led a major field study in Greene County, PA, examining 40 log buildings. His objective was to learn the technical details of early log construction to communicate to the Irish craftsmen reconstructing and replicating buildings in the park.

Side view of the Hupp log house with Cunningham spring house on the right.

Professor Glassie summarized his findings in a 180-page report entitled “Architecture in Log in Southwestern Pennsylvania.”  No copy of this report exists in local archives but one remains in the library at the Folk Park. 

The Folk Park's replication of a Southwestern Pennsylvania log barn based on Dr. Glassie's research in Greene County.
With the goal of seeing the Hupp house and finding the report, my sons and I set out for Northern Ireland in May. We were able to procure a copy of the report, thanks to written permission from Professor Glassie and the kind assistance of Folk Park staff.  
Next we toured the park, beginning in the “Old World” area where we wandered through thatched-roof houses, past a stone meeting house, schoolhouse, blacksmith’s forge and weaver’s cottage. Along the way we were greeted by costumed guides demonstrating traditional crafts and explaining Irish culture. 

Exploring the historic Ulster village with sons Franz and Tom. 

Arriving at a village of traditional Ulster storefronts, we followed a cobblestone street to a full-size replica of an early 19th century sailing ship upon which we “departed” for America. Reaching the “New World,” we passed through a Baltimore streetscape on our way to the American frontier, an agrarian landscape dotted with log buildings and split rail fences. It is in this section that the Hupp Log House is the star.

Interior of the Hupp log house, rebuilt in Ireland in 1999.
There are many links in the Folk Park to southwestern Pennsylvania, representing the large number of Ulster Irish who settled in this part of the American frontier in the 18th and early 19th centuries.  In fact, the park is located on the site of the original Mellon family homestead where Judge Thomas Mellon was born in 1813. Five years later, he immigrated with his parents to Westmoreland County, PA, where he grew up to become the banking and industrial magnate of Pittsburgh. One of his sons was Andrew Mellon, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury from 1921 to 1932.  

The Mellon ancestral homestead. Photo courtesy of the Ulster-American Folk Park.
Since the 1960s, the Mellon family has been involved in restoration of the homestead and development of the park. Major donors have included Dr. Matthew T. Mellon, Richard K. Mellon, Paul Mellon, Ailsa Mellon Bruce and Richard Mellon Scaife. The Park opened July 4, 1976, in Europe’s largest celebration of the American Bicentennial. Today, it is part of the National Museums of Northern Ireland.

1 comment:

  1. I believe this is the house that was located on the Strohman farm located just above Clarksville. I was in the house a few times as a kid.