Valley Forge National Historical Park

Valley Forge National Historical Park

Museum belonged in Valley Forge

July 8, 2009, 7:15 am

The American Revolution Center's decision to move to Philadelphia extends a nine-year record of switching rather than fighting. Instead of working to resolve issues with its partners and local officials, the proposed museum has moved twice from the place where it was originally conceived, Valley Forge.

The Valley Forge Historical Society gave birth to the idea of a museum celebrating the American Revolution. It did all the heavy lifting that brought about the landmark federal legislation allowing it to be built within Valley Forge National Historical Park, in the first partnership of its kind with the National Park Service.

But when control of the project was relinquished to the newly formed National Center for the American Revolution, the organization's leadership made it clear that it had no interest in partnering with the National Park Service or anyone else. It bickered incessantly with the service and did end runs around the partnership agreement, at one point embarrassing the Native American Oneida Nation. This is the bitter root of the problems between the organization and the park service, which were allowed to fester until as late as last fall.

After six years or so, the center walked away from the park service partnership and, later, proposed relocating across the Schuylkill to a difficult-to-access site within the park's historical footprint, with no solid evidence that it could succeed there.

Having done so, the organization promised anyone and everyone whatever they wanted to hear to achieve the approval of Lower Providence Township's zoning committee and supervisors. Now, those promises have produced nothing more than a huge township legal bill.