Commonwealth Charter Day & Priestley's Birthday at Joseph Priestley House

History & Heritage

March 10, 2019

1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Joseph Priestley House

Celebrate two birthdays with The Friends of Joseph Priestley House from 1 to 4 pm! Free admission. Join us for the annual Commonwealth Charter Day and Priestley's birthday celebration. Tour the American home of the English clergyman who discovered oxygen and first found that plants supply oxygen to the atmosphere. Tour at your own pace and visit with costumed guides in each room. See the Joseph Priestley Timeline Exhibit in the pond building. Watch Dr Priestley chemistry demonstrations in the Pond Building at 1:30 and 3pm. Tickets required for demonstrations. 

The public is invited to Priestley House, Northumberland, to help celebrate Joseph Priestley’s 285th birthday on Sunday, March 11.  Admission will be free between 1 and 4 p.m. Birthday cake and punch will be served in the Visitors Center.

Joseph Priestley was born in England on March 13, 1733. The renowned scientist, political thinker and dissenting clergyman came to Northumberland in 1794 and lived there for the rest of his life. He died in Priestley House in 1804.

Ronald Blatchley, a retired chemistry teacher who portrays Dr. Priestley, will perform 18th chemistry demonstrations in the Pond Building on the grounds at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. Tickets are required for each demonstration and can be obtained in the Visitor Center.

Visitors may tour the museum at their own pace, with guides in vintage costume to greet them and answer questions.

The Friends of the Joseph Priestley House operate the museum, which is owned by the  Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission. Sunday’s open house will also be part of a statewide commemoration by the commission to mark the signing of the state’s charter.

Priestley House will then be open for the 2019 season from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (except Easter Sunday and Mother’s Day) from March 10 until Sunday, November 17.  Tours are on the hour at 1, 2 and 3 p.m.  Tours at other times can be arranged by calling 570-473-9494 or by email at






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