This weekend I helped work on the Selma Mansion, the ancestral home of Andrew Porter. Mr. Porter was many things; Revolutionary War general, surveyor for the state of Pennsylvania, and founder of the Marine Corps. The Selma Mansion, located at 1301 W Airy St, in Norristown, PA is a house built in 1794. For years it has languished, vacant and gathering dust. The Norristown Preservation Society (NPS) was formed to save the property after the owner of the property died back in the 70s when it was in danger of being torn down. Several years have gone by and the organization now finally owns the mansion.
With a new infusion of members on the board, efforts are being made to stabilize the property and clean it up. This weekend’s efforts were centered on making the first floor clean and bright so the people can come and see the potential of the place. The main goal is to house a collection of Civil War artifacts and create a house museum that will highlight Norristown’s history and bring visitors to the area as well as create a place where community groups can meet. On Saturday members of the NPS board and members of the West End Association, of which I am a member of both, went into the house and scrapped loose paint, took down the wallpaper that was hanging from the walls, and cleaned up the mildew that has grow on the walls due to a leak in the basement. We also cleanup the horse carriage house and cleared up the code violations that the municipality has saw fit to charge us with. On Sunday with the help of a crew from Cabrini College, we did more of the same to the four rooms and main hall on the first floor. The place looks fantastic and is well on the way to becoming a useful property.
It was great to see the energy in the place over the weekend, despite the fact that it was cold and rainy. I know the new NPS board members are excited to see that there is so much support from the community to get this house back to where it should be. Now comes the arduous task of raising the money needed for the renovation of the property and the creation of the museum.