Winterthur Museum Curator Emerita Wendy Cooper Shares Primitive Hall’s Architecture, Furniture, and History

May 27, 2021

“Built in 1738, Primitive Hall was enormous for its time,” shared Wendy Cooper, Curator Emerita of Furniture, Winterthur Museum, at the start of her virtual tour on May 19, 2021. Wendy co-curated the exhibition Paint, Pattern, and People: Furniture of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1725-1850 in 2011 that introduced this fascinating house to many for the first time. While revisiting Primitive Hall with the Decorative Arts Trust, Wendy not only highlighted the incredible architectural survival but also eight pieces of furniture that descended in the family and are representative of Chester County design and craftsmanship. 

Mary and Joseph Pennock were the original residents at Primitive Hall. They finished construction on the house later in life, after their 11 children had grown and Joseph was 61 years old. The residence’s large scale indicates to Wendy that Joseph was “making a statement” when he built the dwelling out in the Pennsylvania countryside. He was a Justice of the Peace and an important political figure. 

Central to Wendy’s tour were eight pieces of Pennock furniture representative of Chester County, some of which have never left the home. The first object she discussed was a rail-and-stile paneled chest, likely one of the first pieces of furniture that Mary and Joseph obtained soon after their marriage in 1705. Most Quaker couples in Chester County would have owned such an item. 

Primitive Hall has acquired other Chester County-made furnishings to evoke the interiors of a regional home from the period. See more of these amazing decorative arts and learn about the Pennock’s impressive residence by watching the tour below: 

The Decorative Arts Trust hosts monthly virtual tours that give viewers the opportunity to go behind the scenes and experience incredible collections and sites. Curators, collectors, and lovers of decorative arts share fascinating objects and interiors through our tours hosted on YouTube Live. 

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Visit the Trust’s calendar of events to see upcoming virtual and in-person programs. For updates about registration openings, sign up for our e-newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. The Trust is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that appreciates the support of members and donors who make programs like this possible.

About The Decorative Arts Trust Bulletin

Formerly known as the "blog,” the Bulletin features new research and scholarship, travelogues, book reviews, and museum and gallery exhibitions. The Bulletin complements The Magazine of the Decorative Arts Trust, our biannual members publication.


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