With a wisp of a paintbrush, a chip of wood became a feather. With the loud clacking of the loom’s beater, yarn became a rug. We watched up close, asking questions and marveling at the workmanship.
In Spruce Forest Artisan Village, a handful of artisans — some regular, some as month-long guests — practice their craft and sell their wares from studios housed in tiny vintage buildings.
The village is set on the historic National Road, with the Casselman Bridge on one side and the historic Penn Alps Restaurant, housed in the last log hospitality house along the National Road.
I don’t know what I like best. The artists and their wares….or the little historic buildings themselves. About a dozen old buildings, two dating to the Revolutionary War era, have been moved to this peaceful little spot under towering trees.
Did you ever want to peek into a log cabin? Visit a one-room school house? Here’s your chance. Step onto the porch and walk inside. Some are studios. Others have been preserved. The Miller House tells the story of an Amish bishop, Benedict Miller, who conducted services, welcomed travelers and taught school, all in this modest house. Lunch pails and hats still await their owners in the Compton one-room school house. The young visitors we saw had a great time peering into the classroom, hanging out on the porches and learning about life long ago. I was thrilled to tour the Yoder House, a stone and half-timber house build in 2005. Filled with fascinating features that tell of different times, the house features a “soul window.” The tiny window allows souls escape on their way to heaven after death. It’s an old Mennonite tradition.
We combined our visit with a stroll over the adjacent Casselman Bridge. The stone arch was built over the Little Youghiogheny in 1813. No longer suitable for all the traffic, it still welcomes visitors on two feet to climb its graceful curves and walk or picnic beside the restful waters beneath it.
All that walking and browsing got us thirsty. And here we had two choices. the Penn Alps restaurant or a newcomer, the Cornucopia Cafe.
We stopped at Spruce Forest after a morning at the Deep Creek Lavender Farm. A day of peaceful meandering, taking in the delights of local businesses, arts, cuisine and agriculture. Perfect.
ⓒ Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman
Every since I first read JOHNNY TREMAIN when I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be a historic silversmith. That, or make those lovely rifles they used to fire, when weapons were art. I’d love to revisit that idea, learn a craft and practice it the old ways at somewhere like Colonial Williamsburg, but sadly my kids need food and medical care. Glad to know others keep the dream alive!!! Thanks for a great article.