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Happy to Be Here: An intersection with history

How could Patricia Mervine resist the urge to write about Boone Farm? Her parents, Richard and Louise Dougherty Bleiler, were part of its history – they lived in an apartment over the carriage house in the late 1950s. The uniquely placed property is being transformed as the site of the African American Museum of Bucks County. Nestled at the crossroads of Durham Road (Route 413) and Bridgetown Pike, the farm is in Middletown Township, just uphill from Langhorne Borough and beyond two stone-arched railroad bridges, where Neshaminy Creek meets its tributary, Core Creek. Now more than 300 years old, the Godfrey Kirk House on the farm, original stone walls still standing, has suffered with time. The original section, 1¾ stories high, was completed in 1716. An addition three years later became a separate dwelling, with no access through the walls to the original building. In the hamlet of Bridgetown, in the early 1700s, a tailor, a mason, a blacksmith, a weaver, a saddler, a joyner, a cooper, a harness maker, a tanner, a cordwainer, and millers lived in the area, Mervine says in her book, “Boone Farm: Its People and Place in Middletown History.” ”People passed through Bridgetown on the way to towns on either side of the area,” she writes, “and they traveled to Bridgetown because of its mills. Just as it does today, the farm had high visibility to travelers of the time.” In all, 21 owners passed through the farm, Mervine discovered, and the record shows that two enslaved individuals lived there for a time. Most recently, Grace and Cheshire Boone, from Montclair, N.J., owned the farm. They bought it in 1914 – both scholars, they called it Bimini Farm. (Bimini was the mythological site of the Fountain of Youth.) Cheshire taught manual arts in the Montclair public schools before joining the faculty of Montclair Normal School. He was a member of the Salamagundi Club, the arts organization in New York, and once treasurer of the International Congress on Art Education. He coordinated the writing of a series of books on the Montessori Method of teaching called “The Library of Work and Play.” Grace, who had thrived as a professor’s wife in Montclair society, adapted well to farm living. She was as much at home with Newtown friends and the Langhorne Sorosis (the women’s club) as with “slopping around the farm in work clothes and boots...” A friend recalled that Grace seldom missed a New York theater opening and she dressed appropriately for the occasion. At some point, probably in the 1920s, the Boones added to the house that had gone for 200 years with few changes. For one thing, they cut through the dividing wall and joined the two sections with french doors; for another, they wrapped a two-story frame addition around one end of the house. They brought it into the 20th century with a modern kitchen, bath, sun room and rooms upstairs. Cheshire died in 1933 and Grace stayed on to manage the farm, cows, chickens and pigs included, for another 34 years. She sold the house and 32 acres to Bucks County in 1967, when the Neshaminy Water Resources Authority was undertaking its flood control plan and developing Core Creek Park. The county started restoration of the house but never completed it. The house was in deep decay when the small group began meeting at the First Baptist Church in Langhorne Borough to form the African American Museum of Bucks County (AAMBC). It was officially founded in 2014. Free Blacks and slaves lived here as far back as Colonial times. There’s much history to be preserved. In 2020 the Bucks County Commissioners voted to lease the Boone Farm for $1 a day for 30 years to AAMBC. Groundbreaking for the renovation began in November 2022. AAMBC is growing its Building Our Dream Capital Campaign for the $2.4 million Boone Farm Restoration, not including landscaping. Anchored by a $250,000 state grant, and major donations, the campaign has reached its public phase. Pledges will be accepted through May 2025. Contact for information on donations. “At this point, the grand opening will be in early 2025,” Mervine said in an email message, “although I believe the outdoor shell work is on track for completion this summer. The renovations are moving ahead at a good clip. ... Narrow winding stairways have been removed and are being replaced with wide straight stairs. Floors are being replaced. The elevator shaft has been built. Windows are on order. A basement was dug and the foundation has been reinforced.” Mervine is looking forward to turning the farmhouse into “a proper museum with rooms of permanent and rotating exhibits, a classroom with computers and A/V technology, a library, accessible bathrooms, a kitchen, and more.” That phase will be funded by the AAMBC Capital Campaign. Proceeds from Mervine’s book support the museum but “Boone Farm: Its People and Place in Middletown History” is only a beginning. Mervine is going further – exploring the Underground Railroad. “It’s the people I’m interested in,” she says. Whatever history she uncovers will become part of the AAMBC resources. “War, slavery, religion, and the rise and fall of the rural industrial region of Bridgetown, are all part of this property’s past,” says the Boone Farm book’s back cover. “To become a welcoming center of learning and community – that’s the future.”

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FEBRUARY 16, 2024 | 6 NEWS ABC

African American museum seeks help completing new home in Bucks County

FAIRLESS HILLS, Pennsylvania (WPVI) — The African American Museum of Bucks County was founded in 2014 and has spent the last decade traveling to schools, churches, and other community gathering spaces with their mobile exhibit. For example, they visited Bucks County Technical High School today to engage students in the topics of the Underground Railroad, local heroes, and more. But the museum's staff have always wanted a permanent home. Fortunately, Bucks County Commissioners were able to facilitate the transformation of a historical site known as Boone Farm into a new home for the museum. The county is covering the cost of the exterior renovations, whereas the museum is responsible for furnishing the interior. They are hoping to raise $2 million to open the doors in 2025. "We have walked through Bucks County to tell this story," said The African American Museum of Bucks County President and Executive Director Linda Salley. "Now, we want the counties to walk through those doors." To learn more about The African American Museum of Bucks County, watch the video above and visit their website.

JUNE 1, 2023

Sesame Place, Journey to Juneteenth

“The Journey to Juneteenth” is an exhibit about the history and significance of Juneteenth, in partnership with Sesame Place.

LANGHORNE, PA (June 1st, 2023) The African American Museum of Bucks County (AAMBC) will present, “The Journey to Juneteenth,” an exhibit about the history and significance of Juneteenth, in partnership with Sesame Place. The exhibit will be displayed in the Sesame Studio Theater and will be open to the public from June 5th through June 28th. Tickets to Sesame Place can be purchased online at The exhibit takes the viewer on a journey, portraying significant events in US History relating to the struggle for freedom. Topics include abolitionism, The Emancipation Proclamation, The Civil War and other key events that led up to the commemoration of Juneteenth as a federal holiday. A short video on the meaning of Juneteenth, as well as related Sesame Street content, will be shown on loop in the theater.

APRIL 26, 2023 | TIMES PUB

African American Museum of Bucks County to Partner with St. Mary’s Medical Center for A Women’s Health Forum May 6th

The African American Museum of Bucks County (AAMBC) will host its first Women’s Health Forum in partnership with St. Mary’s Medical Center and Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic on Saturday, May 6th. The forum will take place at the First Baptist Church of Langhorne from 11:00am through 2:00pm. This community event is free and open to the public. Registration is requested at: Local radio legend Patty Jackson, from iHeart Radio, is set to moderate the health forum. St. Mary’s doctors will be speaking about the importance of women’s health. Doctors Julene Evans Murage, MD; Deon Vigilance, MD; Kristin Krupa, MD; and Jessica Barton, DO are expected to speak about topics like disease management, heart health, gynecological health, and breast cancer. Following the presentation there will be at Q&A with the doctors. “Our physicians are excited to join the AAMBC’s Women’s Health Forum,” said Jeanette Stemen, Program Administrator of Women’s Health at St. Mary Medical Center, “this partnership is something we are excited to continue in the future. The AAMBC will also be doing a presentation of the impact and significance of Henrietta Lacks to kick off the forum. Linda Salley, Executive Director and President of the AAMBC added, “We are delighted to be partnering with St. Mary’s for the event. We cannot thank the St. Mary’s doctors enough for taking time out of their busy schedules to help educate the community. This forum is going to be a wonderful opportunity to shed light on the importance of women’s health and how to best take care of oneself”.


African American Museum partners with St. Mary for Women’s Health Forum

The African American Museum of Bucks County is hosting its first Women’s Health Forum, in partnership with St. Mary Medical Center and Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic, on Saturday, May 6, at the First Baptist Church of Langhorne, 215 E. Richardson Ave., from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This community event is free and open to the public. Registration is requested here. Local radio legend Patty Jackson, from iHeartRadio, is set to moderate the health forum. St. Mary’s doctors will speak about the importance of women’s health. Doctors Julene Evans Murage, MD; Deon Vigilance, MD; Kristin Krupa, MD; and Jessica Barton, DO, are expected to speak about topics like disease management, heart health, gynecological health and breast cancer. Following the presentation, there will be a Q&A with the doctors. “Our physicians are excited to join the AAMBC’s Women’s Health Forum,” said Jeanette Stemen, program administrator of women’s health at St. Mary Medical Center. “This partnership is something we are excited to continue in the future.” The AAMBC will do a presentation on the impact and significance of Henrietta Lacks to kick off the forum. Linda Salley, executive director and president of the AAMBC, said, “We are delighted to be partnering with St. Mary’s for the event. We cannot thank the St. Mary’s doctors enough for taking time out of their busy schedules to help educate the community. This forum is going to be a wonderful opportunity to shed light on the importance of women’s health and how to best take care of oneself.” Following the presentations, the AAMBC is hosting a healthy luncheon. The food of the luncheon will be provided by EventRoostr – The Falls Banquet, located in Morrisville.


African American Museum of Bucks County plans Black History Month Programs

The African American Museum of Bucks County (AAMBC) is embarking on a tour to local schools and will be exhibiting at the Bucks County Administration Offices and Justice Center in Doylestown in commemoration of Black History Month. These visits are occurring simultaneously with the renovation of the museum’s new permanent home at Boone Farm in Middletown Township. “While the renovation of the museum’s new permanent home in Middletown Township is moving along, AAMBC, as a mobile and virtual museum, remains an important educational resource throughout Bucks County,” said AAMBC President and Executive Director Linda Salley. The Pennsbury School District elementary school program has asked the museum to develop a program for 5th grade students from nine elementary schools across the district. The “Who Am I” pop-up exhibit will run for two full days, on Feb. 8 and 9, and will be hosted by Manor Elementary School, in Levittown, reaching over 1,100 students. In addition, on Feb. 15 and 16, the AAMBC will present this popular exhibit to almost 1,500 students at the Bucks County Technical High School in Levittown. The exhibit features six stations, each representing a different era of American history. Teachers will be given “prework” featuring a short bio of some African Americans included in the exhibit to engage students in the classroom before visiting the stations. Museum representatives at each station will then educate students on the African American experience of that era. Students will be challenged to identify the one historical figure of the era highlighted at each station on their classroom worksheet to reveal a comprehensive write-up of the historical figure’s contributions. The museum is in need to volunteers to help staff these exhibits and is requesting assistance from community members. If you would like to help the AAMBC now, through donation or volunteering, contact Linda Salley at 215-752-1909 or email The AAMBC will also exhibit two displays in Doylestown during the month of February. These exhibits are free and open to the community. One display will feature the Civil Rights Movement, highlighting important figures and events from the 1950s and 1960s leading up to the present day. The second display will focus on Hidden Figures of Bucks County. It is called: “Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things.” The exhibits will be held in two locations in Doylestown right near each other, and visitors are encouraged to visit both. One display will be in the County Courthouse Administration Building at 55 E. Court St., Doylestown, and the second will be at the Justice Center, accessed through the main entrance at 100 N. Main St.


Construction Begins for African American Museum of Bucks County 

MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP, PA — Just in time for Black History Month, work has begun on the African American Museum of Bucks County. The organization posted that renovations for the museum's future home at the Boone Farm in Middletown Township have started, a few months after a groundbreaking ceremony with the Bucks County Commissioners. "The work has begun on the property," said Patricia Mervine, who recently wrote a book about Boone Farm. "The museum is embarking on a major capital fundraising campaign." Construction is estimated to take about 12 months. Linda Salley, the museum's president and executive director, is leading those fundraising efforts for the museum dedicated to Bucks County's African American history. "We need your help. We can’t do this alone," the organization stated in a Facebook post. "Go to our website and donate." Established in 2014, the museum has existed solely as a “mobile museum,” displaying exhibits and artifacts at schools, libraries, senior centers, and other locations throughout Bucks County. In recent months, the project to renovate the existing farmhouse —located at the southwest corner of Core Creek Park at 867 Newtown-Langhorne Road —progressed when county commissioners approved a $2.39 million contract with L.J. Paolella Construction, Inc., for restoration work and a separate $201,000 contract with Hirschberg Mechanical to perform plumbing and fire protection work at the site. Funding for the project has also come from Bucks County in addition to substantial contributions from Parx Casino and Sesame Place.


The African American Museum Of Bucks County | Knowing the Past Opens Doors to the Future

The African American Museum of Bucks County (AAMBC) has finally found a place to call home, and that home is on Boone Farm on Route 413. Don’t let that fool you though; they will still be enriching the lives of many throughout the entire county and beyond with their pop-up exhibits, mobile museum, in person live events and now virtual programming. Boone Farm, with its original structure dating back to the 1700s, seems the perfect location for this culturally rich museum. The farm itself has an interesting history, one that includes many people who came to work at the farm during the great migration of the 1940’s and 1950’s. As chance would have it, Linda Salley, the museum's executive director and board president, met many of the women who worked the farm during that time. They migrated from the south because they heard they could find work at Boone Farm and make a better life for themselves in Bucks County. In addition, the Langhorne location just happens to have been home for some of the oldest free African American families. Although AAMBC’s new permanent home is the big news right now, the museum has been making an impression on all who have been on the receiving end of their programming for several years. They have presented pop-up exhibits for corporations, community and faith based groups, and several schools in Bucks County. Most recently they created a virtual programming series entitled, “Untold Stories and Hidden Figures of Bucks County”. The pilot episode features the stories of six African American soldiers buried at the historic Slate Hill Cemetery in Yardley, PA. This video can be viewed at: The museum plans to produce an additional 9 episodes for this series, focusing on different historic locations and the people who lived and contributed to the African American experience in Bucks County. In addition, an interactive pop-up exhibit called “Who Am I” recently wowed students in the community during Black History Month. In fact, it was so engaging they came up with a new word to describe it: “Educationment”. Programs like this reflect the mission of the museum which is to promote understanding and appreciation of the African American experience through: History: Honoring and illuminating the legacy of the African American experience from African roots to the present day. Education: Programming that demonstrates the importance of African American history and culture to everyone. Inspiration: Highlighting contributions that show the diverse journeys of African Americans in art, culture, politics, sports, and other areas. AAMBC also has a vision “to honor the legacy of the African American experience, inspiring pride in our heritage, educating about the diverse journey of our people, and sharing stories that depict our shared ancestry, thus enriching the lives of Bucks County families.” Tiffany Thomas Smith, a local attorney and supporter of the mission of the AAMBC, feels grateful that the museum is here in our own backyard to “preserve, acknowledge and celebrate the rich African American history Bucks County holds”. AAMBC has much to do to expand the services it offers, and to continue to bring these amazing and inspiring stories and exhibits to our community. A year-long fundraising effort to restore and renovate Boone Farm to its full beautiful and functional potential is underway. There are many supporters, donors and benefactors that have contributed along the way, and the Board, comprised completely of volunteers, works hard every day to make this museum the historical gem as it has come to be known. The museum will be holding its first fundraising event to support the renovation of the property at Boone Farm called “Building Our Dream” on December 2 at 6-9 PM. The event will be hosted by Parx Casino in Bensalem and will feature a cocktail reception, live music, event honorees and a silent auction. Tickets will be available on the AAMBC website: According to Linda Salley, President and Executive Director of the AAMBC, “We are grateful to Parx Casino and our other supporters who have helped us along the way. We are especially grateful to the Bucks County Commissioners whose gift of granting us a lease on Boone Farm will enable us to achieve our dream of a permanent home in Bucks County. Having Boone Farm as a home feels right for the AAMBC and we are fortunate to have them as our neighbor. Bucks County is honored to have such a wonderful place that is educating us about those who have come before and left their mark in history.

AAMBC was featured on 69 News. To watch segment, click here.


African American Museum of Bucks County gets $250k state boost as officials break ground

in Middletown

On the lawn in front of Boone Farm in Middletown on Wednesday morning, years of dedicated work came to fruition as Linda Salley joined government officials in turning over a few ceremonial shovelfuls of dirt for the new African American Museum of Bucks County. Bucks County officials agreed in 2020 to lease the historic farm to the African American Museum until 2030. Since its founding in 2014, the museum has been a mobile and virtual entity. Boone farm, one of the most historic properties in the county, is located in Core Creek Park in Middletown and has been in possession of the county for about 50 years. The groundbreaking ceremony signified the end of one challenge, and the beginning of another, as the museum and its affiliates prepare to begin renovations on the new space that will bring Black history to the public in a permanent space for the first time. “It’s been a long journey, and this journey is not over", said Salley, the president and executive director at the event. “The real work is going to start after this day.” Speakers including the Bucks County Commissioners and other local officials expressed that a museum honoring the legacy and contributions of the African American community in Bucks County is long overdue. “Bucks County one of the oldest counties in this country... but we don’t often see the history of the African American community that has been here since the beginning,” said Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia, who has worked closely with the museum to get a permanent home. An Intertwined History In the 2020 press release announcing the new lease of the property, Salley recounted how she first moved to Bristol and taught a quilting class for 12 women who had been a part of the Great Migration of approximately 6 million African Americans from the rural South to industrial Northern and Western cities in the mid-20th century. These women were the first to tell Salley about Boone Farm, recalling how a truck would pick them up and take them to Boone Farm to work. She did not know where Boone Farm was until years later, when Ellis-Marseglia suggested the old homestead as a permanent location for the museum. “I feel like this farm has been waiting... these are parts of history that the African American community has been missing for years,” said Ellis-Marseglia on Wednesday. Boone Farm itself has a rich history, centered on the 1716 Godfrey Kirk farmhouse that is one of the oldest surviving homes in Bucks County. Pat Mervine, whose family has ties to the immediate vicinity, has independently researched the property, and is publishing a book on Boone Farm this year. While delving into its past, Mervine found a darker piece of the farm's history: in the 18th century, at least two individuals were kept as slaves on the property. “I was just curious, on my own, about who lived here,” said Mervine, “and I researched, and there were two enslaved people kept [at Boone Farm]. One was a man, and one was a young boy named John, who was 4 years old.... It certainly ties into the history that nobody knows about... and it certainly ties into why this museum is needed.” Mervine noted that the history of slavery in Pennsylvania is sometimes overlooked due to the historical predominance of Quakers, who generally supported abolition of slavery by then end of the 18th century. According to Mervine, the farm has passed through 21 different owners in its three centuries of existence, including the Boone family, who owned it for roughly 50 years beginning in 1914. This was during the time that the farm employed African American workers such as the women who Salley met in Bristol. The history that will be highlighted at the museum will span centuries. The African American Museum of Bucks County seeks to highlight “contributions that show the diverse journeys of African Americans in art, culture, politics, sports, and other areas.... honoring and illuminating the legacy of the African American experience from African roots to the present day.” The museum had hoped to open last year, but was delayed, presumably due to the pandemic and other reasons. Boone Farm passed into county ownership along with the rest of Core Creek Park about 50 years ago, and has remained unused until now. Surprise state funding for Bucks County's newest museum Halfway through the groundbreaking ceremony, State Rep. Frank Farry asked Salley back to the podium. “Thanksgiving might be tomorrow, but I wanted to give you an early Christmas present,” said Farry, before confirming that he and State Sen. Robert "Tommy" Tomlinson had secured $250,000 in funding from the state of Pennsylvania for the museum, taking Salley by surprise. This funding will be a major start towards the $2.4 million restoration contract and $201,000 plumbing and fire protection contract that will help prepare the museum for visitors, according to a Bucks County press release. Bernard Griggs, Jr., Bucks County project and diversity officer, confirmed that the property will also need other improvements including concrete walkways, a developed parking area, and storm water drainage before it will be turned over to the museum. According to Griggs, workers will begin moving dirt within the next couple of weeks, and work on the farmhouse itself will begin shortly after the new year. In all, Griggs estimates this work will take an additional 12 months, after which the museum will take over and begin furnishing the inside. Then, finally, the museum will be able to welcome visitors to a permanent location. “This is something that everybody who lives in Bucks County should be proud of,” said County Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo, “and they will be proud of it.” The museum, when finished, will be the product of years of work by numerous people. “All of you are going to make Bucks County proud,” Salley told the crowd at Wednesday’s groundbreaking.

NOVEMBER 23, 2023 | WHYY

Construction begins for the new African American Museum of Bucks County

An 18th-century farmhouse near Langhorne is being renovated into Bucks County’s only Black museum.

Bucks County leaders broke ground Wednesday on a planned African American museum near Langhorne, Pennsylvania. Work has begun on a $3.7 million renovation project to turn an 18th-century stone farmhouse into one of the few Black-centered historic attractions in the entire county. When it opens, likely in 2024, the African American Museum of Bucks County will be the only African American museum in all four of the counties surrounding Philadelphia. “I’m excited,” said Linda Salley, the museum’s executive director. “It’s a long time coming.” The new museum’s three-story, 4,000-square-foot home along Langhorne-Newtown Road in Middletown Township was once the historic Boone Farm. The property is now owned by the county. With its boarded-up windows and crumbling porch, it has been dilapidated for as long as most residents can remember. “I have been driving past it since I was a candy striper at St. Mary [Medical Center] in 1974,” said Diane Ellis-Marseglia, a county commissioner. “As a Middletown supervisor I had a lot of people complain: ‘What are you going to do about this building?’” Around 2018, Ellis-Marseglia found a match in the African American Museum of Bucks County, an independent nonprofit established in 2014. It is based in nearby Langhorne Manor and has always operated as a nomadic exhibitor. Salley said the museum will tell the history of Bucks County, from the Lenni Lenape people, through Black slavery and emancipation, into the Great Migration of the 20th century. “You cannot talk about this land and not talk about the Lenape Indians, because it belonged to them. They gave this land to William Penn,” she said. “We have to start from the beginning and bring it to the present, because that’s the problem: The story has never been told. Bucks County holds many beautiful museums. I’ve been to them all. But not one of them tell our story.” In 2020, Bucks County gave the Boone Farm property to the Museum for a $1 lease, but the COVID pandemic slowed the progress of the project. Together, the museum and the county are raising the renovation costs from public funds and private donations, including gifts from Parx Casino and Sesame Place. At the groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, state Rep. Frank Ferry announced that the state will contribute $250,000 to the project. The Boone Farm is not just an available property ripe for renovation: It played a role in the history of African Americans of Bucks County. While teaching a quilting class about 20 years ago in Bristol, Salley discovered that some of her older students could trace their families back to Boone Farm during the Great Migration of the early 20th century, when many Black people from the South moved north to find work. “One day, one of the ladies said, ‘You know how we got here?’ I said, ‘No, I don’t,’” Salley recalled. “She says, ‘We migrated from Mississippi. We came out in the middle of the night and there was a brochure or a flier or whatever they had back then. We picked it up and said to the family members, ‘They’re hiring at Boone Farm.’” Salley had never heard of Boone Farm before and didn’t know where it was. “I said, ‘Really?’ ‘Yeah, we worked Boone Farm, and on that farm we made enough money. No one took our money. We saved it and we bought our houses, and we actually sent our kids to college.’” Many of the families who worked at Boone Farm later established themselves permanently in Bucks County. Now, every window of the Boone farmhouse is broken and the doors are sealed with plywood. Buck County’s project officer Bernard Griggs said the interior is completely gutted, with no intact electrical, plumbing, or climate control systems. Part of the renovation is to put on new windows and doors, replace the roof, make structural repairs, and install utility systems. The landscape around the building will be partially paved for a parking lot, cleared of dead and dying trees, and renovated for stormwater management. “The building also gets an elevator, because it’s going to be used for public use. By code it needs to have an elevator,” Griggs said. “As the owner of the project, we’ve committed to do a complete core and shell construction, all the groundwork, and all that kind of stuff, and then essentially turn over a white box to the museum folks for them to do their own build-out of display cases and interior finishes.” Landscape work begins immediately, and house renovations are expected to begin early next year. Griggs said the county will likely work on the property for about a year before it hands the keys to the museum.

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