Historic Nathan Denison House in Forty Fort opens for summer tours

By Ralph Nardone - For Times Leader
The Nathan Denison House in Forty Fort opened Sunday for summer tours. - Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Some typical 18th century foods and earthenware are displayed on the table in the Nathan Denison House kitchen. - Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Sherry Emershaw, chairwoman of the Denison House Advocates, stands in the living room of the historic Nathan Denison House waiting for guest to arrive for tours on Sunday. - Fred Adams | For Times Leader

FORTY FORT — The Nathan Denison House provides an example of the rich history of Northeast Pennsylvania. And starting this Sunday, the historic house at 35 Denison St. will be open every Sunday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m. for tours through the last Sunday in September.

Each year, more than 1,000 people visit the house, according to Mark Riccetti Jr., director of operations and special events for the Luzerne County Historical Society. With the help of volunteers, visitors can view up close what a typical 18th century colonial-era family home of the time was like, Riccetti said.

Most people think of northeast Pennsylvania as the “breadbasket of the industrial revolution,” Riccetti said. But before that, it was literally the “wild west,” he said. The residents of the area had to deal with harsh conditions without any of the modern day conveniences, he added.

History buffs toured the house to get a glimpse of life “back in the day,” according to Joseph and Lisa Ridkowski, who brought their two young children to the tour. Both said they were impressed by how much the members of the community had to “rely on each other to survive.”

Several volunteers dressed in period attire took tour visitors to the various rooms, including the kitchen, a central room which served as a gathering place for visitors, and the bedrooms upstairs. They demonstrated the methods used to cook food and make crafts and discussed the typical daily life of the residents there.

Originally built in the in the late 1700s, the house was owned by one of the most influential people who lived in the Wyoming Valley, Riccetti said. Nathan Denison, who owned the house, hailed from Connecticut. A successful military man who served in the Revolutionary War, Denison eventually became a local judge. The Articles of Capitulation were signed with the British ending the Battle of Wyoming on the table that still sits in the house today, Riccetti said.

The house has stood this many years because of its “flood-proof location,” the efforts to keep it maintained during its life by the Denison family and others, and the restoration projects that took place once the house was taken over as a historical site, he said.

Along with a tour of the home, visitors can purchase memorabilia at the gift shop. Anyone interested in getting involved with the Luzerne County Historical Society can visit the website luzernehistory.org.

The Nathan Denison House in Forty Fort opened Sunday for summer tours.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_denison1_faa.jpgThe Nathan Denison House in Forty Fort opened Sunday for summer tours. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

Some typical 18th century foods and earthenware are displayed on the table in the Nathan Denison House kitchen.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_denison3_faa.jpgSome typical 18th century foods and earthenware are displayed on the table in the Nathan Denison House kitchen. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

Sherry Emershaw, chairwoman of the Denison House Advocates, stands in the living room of the historic Nathan Denison House waiting for guest to arrive for tours on Sunday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_denison2_faa.jpgSherry Emershaw, chairwoman of the Denison House Advocates, stands in the living room of the historic Nathan Denison House waiting for guest to arrive for tours on Sunday. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

By Ralph Nardone

For Times Leader

Reach the Times Leader newsroom at 570-829-7242 or on Twitter @TLnews.

Reach the Times Leader newsroom at 570-829-7242 or on Twitter @TLnews.