Collection of Earle and Yvonne Henderson, Charming Forge Mansion, Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania

Collection of Earle and Yvonne Henderson, Charming Forge Mansion, Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania


Charming Forge Mansion, located in Berks County, Pennsylvania, is nestled atop a hill overlooking a site that once buzzed with industrial activity and the clanking of a forge hammer. The forge is closed now and many of the buildings are gone but the mansion still looks out over the Tulpehocken Creek that once powered this magnificent manufacturing site. Originally called Tulpehocken Eisenhammer (Tulpehocken Iron Forge) when it was built around 1749 by John George Nikoll and Michael Miller, Charming Forge was given its present name by William Henry Stiegel and Michael Gross who acquired the forge around 1763. Prior to America’s War for Independence, the forge was producing as much as 300 tons of bar iron per year, iron which was sent to buyers as close as Philadelphia and as far away as London. Stiegel, unfortunately, squandered his wealth and, in the process, lost his ownership of the forge. In 1773 the forge was sold at public auction and was bought, in part, by ironmaster George Ege, Stiegel’s nephew. By 1780 he was the sole owner overseeing operations and he lived in the small stone home that overlooked the forge. The original home on the site had been built in the mid 1700′s but between 1780 and 1784 Ege built a massive addition creating Charming Forge Mansion.

The forge and furnace properties passed through many hands over the decades that followed Ege’s death. In 1993 The Berks County Conservancy, whose mission is environmental and historic preservation, purchased the property in partnership with two conservation buyers, Richard Levengood and Earle (Chip) and Yvonne (Vonnie) Henderson, at public sale on December 16, 1993 to protect it with conservation easements to limit future development.

The Hendersons purchased the mansion and surrounding land and for almost two decades have worked tirelessly to painstakingly restore it to its original late 1700′s Georgian appearance and maintain its historical integrity. They consulted experts and examined the home in detail before beginning their restoration work. The house was structurally perfect and only minor architectural changes had been made since the home had first been built. These changes were “fixed” by the Hendersons to bring the home back to its original state and included exposing covered up fireplaces, removing the Victorian-era porch, replacing several windows, as well as many other projects. Some of the restoration work was considered innovative for early period houses (i.e. low voltage lighting and installing interior air-conditioning condensers) but over the years the structure has been completely brought back to its original grandeur, all the while respecting the original “fabric of the structure”. The Hendersons also decorated the restored mansion with a mix of period pieces dating from 1700-1790 giving it a true late 18th century appearance. The result is a spectacular home and a beautifully preserved piece of our history.

The restoration of Charming Forge Mansion is complete and after over a decade of enjoying the results of their labors the Hendersons are ready to pursue new interests. Their beautiful home is for sale and the couple is excited to find a new owner who will enjoy and maintain the beauty of this ‘charming’ piece of Pennsylvania’s history. On October 1, 2010, Pook & Pook, Inc. Auctioneers and Appraisers will have the pleasure of presenting the Henderson’s remarkable and extensive collection of period antiques that they used to furnish their celebrated home.

courtesy of Pook & Pook

About This Site

Internet Antique Gazette is brought to you by Prices4Antiques.