It was a busy fall at Thunderbird Lodge. Following the Once in a Lifetime Tour work began to make the building water tight and weatherproof, repair leak-damaged plaster and non-functioning faucets, patch holes and refit windows, etc.
Our wonderful new caretakers moved in over Thanksgiving and have proven themselves quite handy at fixing hardware, plumbing and other details themselves saving the Foundation money and preserving existing period details in the Thunderbird Lodge..
In addition, through the generous donation of a Rose Valley resident, most of the required clearing of invasive trees and scrub was removed from the property well ahead of schedule.. The 6′ high stockade fence that bordered Rose Valley Road as also been removed. No longer a well guarded secret, more people are finally discovering this architectural treasure that has been at the center of our community for more than a century. Come spring a walking trail through the property will finally connect to the Saul Wild Preserve.
In October 2015, The Rose Valley Centennial Foundation took ownership of Thunderbird Lodge, called one of the 10 more important buildings of its period by noted architectural historian and author of William L Price – Arts and Crafts to Modern Design, George Thomas.
Will Price converted a 1790’s bank barn into studios for artists Alice Barber Stephens and her husband Charles Stephens, illustrator, photographer and expert on native Americans, then build a new home for them, connecting the two with a stone tower that houses a staircase. The shape of the fireplace and the Moravian tile inset in the stone facing Rose Valley Road earned Price’s masterpiece the name Thunderbird Lodge.
At the Stephens death, the home was purchased by Mildred Scott Olmsted and Allen S. Olmsted. Four generations of the Olmsted family lived in the home before the Olmsted Family Trust deeded it to the RVCF in accordance to Mildred Olmsted’s will “to preserve it in perpetuity. “ RVCF has undertaken the immediate repairs required to the roof, gutters, plumbing and plaster and is working on a long-term plan and budget for all the improvements the building will need. Rose Valley Troop 272 of the Boy Scouts has already cleared massive amounts of bamboo, and Charles Cresson has identified the specimen trees on the 2-acre property.
Caretakers will live in the house portion of Thunderbird Lodge and will maintain the building and grounds for the foreseeable future.
The RVCF is also developing a plan for sustaining Thunderbird Lodge. One of its first goals is to create a space appropriate to a permanent home for The Rose Valley Museum and Historical Society. To that end he RVMHS stepped up to assist the RVCF with it initial fundraising event held on October 18, 2015. The Once in a Lifetime Tour attracted more than 400 people from 5 states who came to see Thunderbird Lodge and 6 private homes designed or redesigned by Will Price. An exhibition of Rose Valley furniture, pottery, art and artifacts from the RVMHS’s as well as a number of pieces on loan from private collections were assembled in Charles Stephens’s studio in Thunderbird Lodge. Historic photos of Rose Valley in Price’s day created from the collection of glass slides courtesy of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia were displayed in Alice Barber Stephen’s studios were a reception was held. For more pictures from that event, click here.
While the possibilities for Thunderbird Lodge are endless, the monies needed to bring those plans to fruition are not. In the next year, the RVCF will be preparing the documentation needed to raise funds foundations, major donors and people like you who love the magic of Rose Valley.