Sunday, November 9, 2014

Where's Willow? - Pennsylvania (Day 3)

Today is so exciting!  
We're headed downtown to see some real Phoenixville!

Phoenixville is about a half hour from Philadelphia where the Schuylkill Canel and French Creek connect.It was originally called Manavon and settled in 1732 (there's still a Manavon Street). Phoenixville was a steel town in its hay day. The major steel plant was called Phoenix Steel.  When the town incorporated, Phoenixville was born.  Phoenixville is also known for its collectable Majolica which is on display at the Historical Society (which was closed today).

There's a great mural downtown celebrating the town's history

and a plaque that tells about the mural.  Every person in the mural represents a real person.
Also downtown is the Colonial Theatre. The theater held its first stage show in 1903.  It is the only theater left in Phoenixville. The 1958 move The Blob was filmed here.  Every year, theater patrons reenact the scene where everyone runs out of the theater (because they're running away from the "blob").  They also show The Rocky Horror Picture Show, old movies, kids movies and new movies as well as host musicians like Kevin Bacon's band, The Bacon Brothers (their grandmother lived close when they were growing up). 

Pretty is this car that was driving past when we took our picture!

We turned the other way to get a picture of one of the local coffeehouses, Steel City Phoenixville is proud not to have a Starbucks.  They have several local breweries and gourmet restaurants downtown as well as some specialty shoppes including an old five and dime (with original dust). Nonna pointed out the marquee to me. Her friends, JD Malone and the Experts are playing Saturday night.  Nonna was at their cd release party when they recorded this Live.

On our way back to the parking lot, we passed this cool sign.

Nonna said she had a real surprise for me.  While we were driving, she told me to look out the window and I saw this!

This tile and mirror mural is on a wall in the Andre Thornton Park on the North side of Phoenixville.  There are two bridges leading to the North side - the high bridge and the low bridge.  Most people take the high bridge so they miss this great mural!

Way up the north side, Nonna stopped at Friendship Field and I saw this massive bird.

Nonna corrected me and told it was a phoenix also known as a firebird.  One of her neighbors designed it!

It's so big!  Nonna says the solar panel powers the lights that will light up the sculpture until they burn it (they'll take the panel off before they burn it)!  The Firebird Festival has been held every December for several local years.  Clay birds and phoenixes are baked inside the big fire as it burns and displayed with other artwork at the Village Art Center after the festival.  There are drummers and crafts and costumed dancers!  This year's festival is December 6.  Nonna says the Phoenix is a reminder of the town's history and just like a phoenix, the town always rises from the ashes and becomes something new.  (I'll miss the festival but maybe Nonna can send me pictures.)

Nonna let me climb up the back a little.

Tomorrow Nonna is taking me to see some Griffen Guns (mentioned in the sign above) in Valley Forge National Park.  She says there are more surprises there too!


  1. That wooden Phoenix is one amazing structure!!!!! I'll bet the view was great from the ladder, Willow!

  2. This is awesome. It is great that we are learning about places that, because of time constraints, we didn't learn about in school. It is also a great way for kids to also learn about their community. I'm hoping that we don't lose the original purpose for the historical dolls.

    1. Thank you. This is EXACTLY why I started the traveling doll program. To help readers young and old learn about history and geography. Willow gets ALL of the credit, but it truly is the HARD WORK of each HOST.

  3. I've waited to share this devastating news but someone burned down the bird before the Festival. In the early morning hours on the day of the festival, someone lit the bird ahead of time. Festival organizers and townspeople rallied to collect pallets (which is what the Phoenix has been made out of for years) and, instead of cancelling the festival, held an all day bonfire. We actually had too much wood to burn (per approved size regulations for the space). Facebook was lit up all day with updates from the community. For more, there is a good article here:

    1. OH NO!!! That's terrible news! I saw the linked article.