George Washington may not have slept here, but he spent plenty of working hours in an 18th century building at Valley Forge National Historical Park now known as Washington's Headquarters. Following nearly seven months of restoration, the building is open again to the public.
The small structure was the place where General George Washington and his staff lived and worked for the six months of the Valley Forge winter encampment. The building was showing the combined effects of time and the wear and tear of heavy visitor use, so it was closed last October for a major makeover.
That work is now complete, and visitors can enjoy a fully restored building as well as completely new facilities surrounding it.
Visitors enter the site on a hilltop with a dramatic view of the Schuylkill River and walk down into the historic landscape surrounding Headquarters. The completely restored 1913 Reading Railroad Station is the place where rangers will meet visitors for guided tours of Headquarters, which take place on the half hour. An exhibit on the archeology of the Valley Forge itself, which was burned during a British raid in 1777, is on display in the adjacent stable.
At Washington’s Headquarters, necessary repairs were made to woodwork, doors, windows, and shutters. Plaster was repaired on the interior, outdated mechanical equipment was removed, and UV screening was replaced on the windows. The exterior and interior were painted with historic colors. Furnishings, artifacts, and exhibit items were thoroughly cleaned and then reinstalled.
Beginning in August, new exhibits on General Washington’s leadership and the resilience of the Continental Army at Valley Forge will be open in the train station. The huts that represent General Washington's guard will be furnished. New exhibits throughout the area will bring the history of the former village of Valley Forge back to life.
The rehabilitation of the site also included removal of an oversized, intrusive parking lot and restoration of the historic terrain in that area. A new, smaller parking lot with handicapped-accessible parking and places for buses is tucked into a less visible place. New handicapped-accessible restrooms were built. A gathering space for large groups is provided. To protect adjacent Valley Creek, storm water runoff is collected and infiltrated in bio-swales and meadows were restored. A number of trees have been planted, with many more to come.
The park website includes directions to the area and other details to help you plan a visit.