The Thunderbird Lodge Commemorates World War One in Delco

In 1904, famed local architect Will Price converted an existing circa-1790 stone barn into studios for the artists Charles H. and Alice Barber Stephens. Appended to this, he designed a rambling fieldstone-and-stucco house, including a 3-story octagonal stair tower that joined the wings and served all five levels.

Price, a founder of Rose Valley, attempted to create a community of artists and artisans working side by side under the principles of the Arts and Crafts Movement. These included truth in the use of materials, traditional craftsmanship using simple forms, and often medieval, romantic or folk styles of decoration.

Ryan Berley, Curator of the Thunderbird Lodge.
Visitors to the April 30th event on World War One illustrative art
Though the Utopian community in Rose Valley ultimately failed, a great many noted artists, craftsman and activist were drawn to the area and spent time at Thunderbird lodge including George Washington Carver, Jane Addams and Martin Luther King, Jr. The Thunderbird Lodge, along with most of the structures in the Rose Valley Community, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, but for sometime had been left idle. In 2015 The Rose Valley Centennial Foundation partnered with the Rose Valley Museum and Historical Society and other Rose Valley organizations to preserve the building and create a center for the study of the local Arts and Crafts heritage.

This past Sunday, April 30, curator Ryan Berley and Historical Society President Morris Potter opened the museum to the public for a lecture by famed art historian and author James C. Thompson on “World War I in the Golden Age of Illustration.” The lecture included a power point of the different types of illustrative art created during the Great War, as well as a viewing posters and illustrations owned by Mr. Thompson, Berley and George Rothacker.

Original artwork from World War I portfolio
of sketches for the military newspaper
“Stars and Stripes” Courtesy of Ryan Berley
The lecture concluded with a Q & A, and refreshments provided by Franklin Fountain in Philadelphia which included World War One Doughnut and Cream ice cream.

The Thunderbird Lodge will be one of the stops on the September tours organized by the World War One Delco Centennial Committee in late September.

James C. Thompson, discusses art of the World War One Era