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Bigler House
 
   Why should I care? Consider that this historic building became part of Mercer County history in 1844, the year it was constructed in Delaware Township. Jacob Bigler moved his family of six children to Mercer County from Cumberland County, PA in 1820. The family had two sons whose upbringing in Mercer County wilderness, their intelligence and ambition brought them to national prominence. They helped to stimulate the growth of the country's lumbering and railroad industries, newspaper publishing business and provided political leadership. John was fifteen and William was six when arriving here. John went to California for the gold rush and William went on to begin a newspaper career in Clearfield County. John and William became noted for their election as governors of California and Pennsylvania respectively in 1851. Well respected by Californians, Lake Tahoe was first known as Lake Bigler after John. Traveling through Pennsylvania you are apt to come across towns named Bigler (Clearfield County) and Biglerville (Adams County) after William. Prior to seeking the governorships, the brothers returned to Mercer County to look after the affairs of their widowed mother and to build her a house.
                                                                                                                                                                     
   The Bigler House is a 1 ½ story building of Greek Revival architecture with a side addition. It was constructed of sawn planks, 3-inches thick, on a hewn timber framework. At its original location in Delaware Township, having been abandoned for decades, it had become severely deteriorated. The Shenango Conservancy mustered the means to remove the deteriorated side addition and the roof, move the main part of the house to a new location at Kidds Mill Park and restore it to its antebellum appearance. This saved the house from being lost to history – that is until 2010. Vandalism and lack of continuous care have taken their toll on the structure to the point that it is in danger – again- of being lost. Broken windows, leaking roof, rotted floor joists and fallen plaster are taking their toll. Furthermore, its isolated location makes securing the building difficult.
   Once again, the Shenango Conservancy committed to saving the Bigler House. This time it has been relocated on a site at Munnell Run Farm. The Farm is an appropriate place for the house as agriculture was the mainstay of Mercer County life before the Industrial Revolution. Plans are to replicate a mid nineteenth century rural farmstead with the Bigler House as the centerpiece. It will be incorporated into the educational programming at Munnell Run Farm and will dovetail with the Rural Life Museum located in a building nearby and operated by the Mercer County Historical Society. Gardens, outbuildings, and a handicapped accessible trail are planned for the site.
 
   The project is nearly complete. Despite the extensive rot and insect damage of the original reconstruction we were able re-use much original material at the new location. Reconstruction conformed to the Unified Building Code requirements to ensure that the building is sound - and handicapped accessible. The cost of accomplishing this goal is nearly $100,000 to date. 

   About $5,000 remains to be raised. The Munnell Run Farm Foundation, Inc. is taking the lead to raise these additional funds.  A one-acre site is being developed for the homestead. A wheelchair accessible trail winds through the site where gardens can be viewed and benches  provide for relaxed views of the landscape. The the first floor drawing room is handicapped accessible. From there a visitor can view the interior as it was in the era of the Civil War. Grants from the the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Shenango Conservancy and Mercer County Conservation District, as well as donations from interested individuals have made it possible. More is needed, however, to complete the site. 

We are seeking additional grants and donations from people who care about our local history. Contributions to Munnell Run Farm Foundation are tax deductible and can be sent to 24 Avalon Court, Suite 300,  Mercer PA 16137.  You may also click on the "Donate Now" button at the top of the page to make a credit or debit card contribution over a secure site operated by the "Network For Good". 

For additional information contact Jim Mondok at 724-662-2242 or
munnellrunfarm@verizon.net.
    
The Biglers In Mercer County, PA
 
  

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Contact Us - 24 Avalon Court, Suite 300 – Mercer, PA 16137 – 724-662-2242
 
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