$500K Grant from PA’s RACP and $75K from KOP District Deliver Big Boosts to Maurice Stephens House Project
Story by Melissa Jacobs
Photos by Judith A. Grubb
Just weeks before the December anniversary of Gen. Washington’s Continental Army marching into “the valley of the forge,” Valley Forge Park Alliance is giving thanks for two big grants that boost its effort to reactivate the Maurice Stephens House.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program awarded a $500,000 matching grant to VFPA’s Maurice Stephens House project. RACP is a grant program administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects.
“For years, Valley Forge Park Alliance has provided excellent services to park visitors that have complimented official park programming, including bird walks, historical lectures and wellness workshops,” said State Rep. Melissa Shusterman, who helped VFPA secure the grant. “The Maurice Stephens House project will allow them to not only continue these valuable programs but also expand their impact on visitors by having their headquarters located right on the grounds of the park.”
Amy Johnson, president of VFPA’s board of directors, expressed gratitude for the grant – and hopes that others will donate to the Maurice Stephens House project to help VFPA qualify for matching funds. “The RACP grant has made this project possible,” Johnson said. “The Maurice Stephens House will be the home where we, the citizen stewards of the park, gather for volunteering, programming, and recreating. As proud stewards of this park, we are grateful to our elected officials Melissa Shusterman and Tim Briggs for their help with this grant.” State Senators Carolyn Comitta and Amanda Cappelletti and Chester and Montgomery County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz and Ken Lawrence also supported the project.
VFPA’s Maurice Stephens House project received another generous gift: $75,000 from King of Prussia District. The gift was made possible through King of Prussia District reserves generated from private shuttle service management. “We are fortunate to have this jewel right in our backyard and believe that the Maurice Stephens House will be a huge asset to the community once complete,” said Eric Goldstein, president and CEO of King of Prussia District. “We hope that others are moved by our investment and join us in supporting this project.”
The two grants mark significant progress in VFPA’s campaign to raise funds to reactivate the historic property. Built in 1816, the Maurice Stephens House sits on the site of what was General Huntingdon’s quarters in 1777 during the Valley Forge winter encampment. It overlooks the Grand Parade, where General Von Steuben trained the Continental Army, turning them into the cohesive fighting force that went on to win the American Revolutionary War six years later.
VFPA’s campaign to raise $980,000 will fund construction of a café, accessible restrooms, outdoor seating, and other enhancements that will complement work by the National Park Service to preserve the structure. VFPA will use the building for its offices, public meeting space and as a launch point for public programs including birdwatching and trail walks. “The Maurice Stephens house is the perfect centerpiece for our mission to inspire appreciation and citizen stewardship of Valley Forge Park,” said VFPA executive director Molly Duffy.
“The gifts from RACP and the King of Prussia District demonstrate that businesses and communities surrounding the park understand the value of having a national park next door,” said Duffy. “The Alliance is grateful for these gifts and the powerful citizen stewardship that they represent.”
Note: The author serves on Valley Forge Park Alliance’s board of directors.
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