The Potter-Allison Farm is an agricultural complex built by General James Potter, one of the first settlers of Penns Valley, and expanded by a 19th century owner, William Allison. The complex, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, comprises the Potter-Allison House, a barn, a springhouse, and six other buildings.
General Potter came to America from Ireland and first visited central Pennsylvania in 1764. During the Revolutionary War, he led troops and was promoted to brigadier general. He later acquired about 6,000 acres in the southwestern part of Penns Valley, where he built a log cabin and grist mill.
After Potter died in 1789, his son, James Potter Jr., inherited the property and moved to the post village of Potter’s Bank (Potters Mills) on the Lewistown and Bellefonte Turnpike, on Sinking Creek. In the village, the Potters had a grist mill, a woolen factory, a store, a tavern, a distillery, and several dwellings.
In 1816, Potter built a Georgian-style home on his farm. The brick structure has a balanced façade and features a side hall, internal gable-end chimneys, detailed trim, with a windowless gable end.
Potter and his wife, Mary Brown Potter, had eight children. After his death in 1818, Potter’s sons, John and James Jr., managed the business. In 1847, the Potter fortunes crumbled when his sons admitted to liabilities of more than a quarter-million dollars. Their holdings were sold at a sheriff’s sale in 1849.
By the 1850s, William Allison acquired the farm and expanded the house with Victorian architecture. He added a small porch on the front. On the side he added a new entrance, porch, and a three-window bay with long, four-paned windows that looked very different from those on the front.
The barn, built with hand-hewn timbers, was one of the largest in the area at the time. The outbuildings are typical of diverse farm functions. They include a hog barn, slaughterhouse, and equipment building. A springhouse is also part of the complex.
Rishel, Ruth. Potter Township: General Potter’s Empire, 1976.
National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, Potter Allison Farm.
Historic Buildings of Centre County Pennsylvania. The Historic Registration Project of Centre County Library. Gregory Ramsey, Coordinator. University Park: Keystone Books, 1980.
First Published: August 4, 2021
Last Modified: April 22, 2022