The stone house that served as Gen. George Washington's colonial war room has a new luster that matches its sterling place in American history.
Walls have been painted. Shutters have been replaced. Furniture has been cleaned and restored.
Washington's Headquarters at Valley Forge National Historical Park has undergone its most significant renovation since 1976.
"It's our most important historic building," said Deirdre Gibson, chief of planning and resource management at Valley Forge. "When you have a couple of hundred thousand people visiting every year, eventually you need work."
Today, the headquarters where Washington planned a winning strategy against the British officially reopens after being closed for seven months. But visitors started streaming in last Saturday, nearly as soon as a new sign went up.
The renovation is part of a $6 million plan to refurbish the five-acre area surrounding Washington's Headquarters. The five-room house was the home base for Washington and his staff during the six months of the Valley Forge winter encampment, starting in 1777.
Funding for the project has come from private donations, government allocations, and stimulus money that the park received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. About 50 percent of the park's $2.1 million stimulus grant is slated for the renovation.
The project includes the refurbishing of a nearby railroad station built in 1913, the addition of a parking lot, landscaping, and new exhibits. A nondescript path leading to the headquarters has been replaced with a winding, garden-lined walkway with a view of the Schuylkill.
The Washington's Headquarters renovation was completed in about three months, but the construction of a parking lot took longer than expected because of weather delays.
Yesterday, Brian and Karen Campbell of Westerly, R.I., visited the park and Washington's Headquarters. It was Karen Campbell's second visit in less than a year. She had toured the park in September with her sister, but came back yesterday because her husband wanted to visit the landmark.
"It's a lot nicer," said Karen Campbell, 52. "It just makes you appreciate the history - your freedom."
Brian Campbell was stunned by the small size of the building with such a big place in history.
"When you think that this little house was his Pentagon," said Brian Campbell, 58, "that he could maintain the troops, do logistics - it's amazing."
The grounds of Valley Forge National Historical Park are open daily from 6 a.m. to dark.
Both Washington's Headquarters and the Welcome Center are open from 9 a.m.
to 6 p.m. daily.