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Drake Oil Well and Museum

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1945 well; 1963 museum and 1967 museum shop, Charles M. Stotz. Drake Well Rd., 0.5 miles east of PA 1011

The Drake complex consists of a replica well that was built in 1945 and a museum and museum shop designed by Charles Stotz for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. While the museum has few side windows in order to protect the collection from exposure to light, both it and the shop have large areas of glazing on their facades. The flat-roofed rectilinear buildings are sheathed in a local tan stone veneer. The shop has a deep overhang and an open breezeway designed to funnel patrons toward the museum and the replica of Colonel Edwin Laurentine Drake's oil well, which is constructed of wood in the distinctive flared derrick shape. Two stone entrance markers appear to have been designed by Stotz at the same time as the museum. Nearby, a small Colonial Revival house (1934) was moved to its present site in 1967, when the museum shop was built.

The Drake Well Museum is adjacent to Oil Creek State Park. The two properties share access to a thirty-six-mile loop trail that takes hikers up and down twelve miles of Oil Creek via four connecting trails. The Oil Creek and Titusville rail line runs excursion trains between Oil City and the park. The park's appearance today, tree filled and serene, is in stark contrast to the area's appearance during the 1860s oil excitement when the surrounding hills were denuded of trees used to build derricks, and the barrels and wagons used to transport oil from the wells, and the smell of oil and the clanking of teamsters' rigs filled the air.

In 2001, a c. 1850 timber-frame house was moved into Oil Creek State Park adjoining the museum's property to the south. It was reconstructed to illustrate nineteenth-century building techniques, such as mortise-and-tenon pegging and double-grooved pine board siding cut by a reciprocating water-powered sawmill. The McClintock family built the house, but its most notorious owner was John Washington Steele, “Coal Oil Johnny,” who inherited his adoptive parents' farm and oil monies in 1864 and spent this inheritance with wild abandon in Philadelphia and New York City.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Lu Donnelly et al.
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Citation

Lu Donnelly et al., "Drake Oil Well and Museum", [Titusville, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/PA-01-VE20.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 1

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, Lu Donnelly, H. David Brumble IV, and Franklin Toker. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010, 534-534.

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