Putting It All Together
In this lesson, students learn about the history of an inn in southeastern Pennsylvania and how it survived suburban sprawl. The following activities will help them apply what they have learned.
Activity 1: Community Research
Have students research a historic inn, hotel, or tavern in their community. Is this historic building still serving its original function in the community? If not, what is it being used for today? What happened to make the building's function change? Students should also research how the location of the site affected its business. Was/is it located near historically significant transportation routes? If not, is there a way to determine why it was built in that particular location? What was the site's social and economic influence on the town and vice versa? If there is not sufficient information regarding historic inns, taverns, or hotels in your community, choose a different business.
An alternate activity would be to have students do similar research on a modern local hotel. Have students interview a hotel owner/operator. Then have them compare and contrast what they learned about modern hotels to what they learned about the King of Prussia Inn. Students should give a brief oral or written report on their findings.
Activity 2: Interpreting Artifacts
Have students bring an item (preferably an antique) to class from their household (or better yet, their Grandparents household) that their peers would not immediately recognize. Each student should come prepared with information about what the item is, what it was used for, and how old it is. In class, separate the students into groups of four or five. Each student should take a turn displaying their “artifact,” while the others examine the object and use their knowledge of history to figure out what the object is, what it was used for, and how old it might be. Then the student that brought the object should reveal everything they know. Was the group able to figure out what the object was? If so, how? If not, what other information might they have needed to obtain answers? The object of this activity is to determine how difficult it is to understand an object out of context and without sources, which is what archeologist many times have to do. It also helps students realize that no matter how logical their deductions might be, many times you cannot interpret the past without more information.
Activity 3: Endangered Sites
Have students contact their local historical society or local government to find out if there is (or was) a particular historic place in their community that is (or was) endangered. What measures are being taken to save the place? How does this compare to what happened with the King of Prussia Inn? If the historic place is endangered at the present time, is there a way your class can get involved to help? Contact the person organizing the preservation efforts and design a project that will allow students to participate in the process.
If no historic places can be found locally, have students look at the National Trust for Historic Preservation website where the organization compiles a list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Divide students into groups having each group learn about the significance of one of the endangered places. Students should also research what efforts are being made to preserve the historic place. Hold a class discussion comparing and contrasting each group's place and each place's preservation efforts to what happened with the King of Prussia Inn.