About the Village


A visit to the Village is FREE, and a small Village Tour Guide is available in artists studios for visitors to keep. A larger book with more detailed information is also available to visitors to use and return.

Every day promises something different. Check the calendar for events and hours of various studios and museums.

History | Alta Schrock | Village Tour | Board of Directors | Our Neighbors


History


Spruce Forest serves a unique purpose in the Allegheny region. Here in the heart of what was known as Little Crossings in the time of General Braddock, artists have developed designs, genres, and even media specific to this area. Spruce Forest is a venue not only where artists showcase and sell their work, but also where visitors have the chance to interact with artisans inside their studios. Six resident artists and many visiting artists share their stories, technical advice, and creative processes with our audience of 60,000 each year.

The artisan program is part of the Village’s larger mission to preserve the heritage of the region. Through a storytelling program in the Miller House Peace Center, our visitors experience the words and wisdom of the settlers who came here almost 200 years ago. The Amish and Mennonite communities lived peacefully with Native Americans and other settlers, developing the strong Appalachian farming tradition.

Our visitors may also experience the agricultural foundations of Little Crossings and the whole region at Stanton's Mill. Built in 1797, the Mill was modernized over the years and functioned until the mid 1990s. Recently restored, Stanton's Mill now operates much as it did in the 1800s, during the height of National Road commerce.

The Artisan Village fronts on the historic National Road, which played a large role in westward expansion and economic development of the region. Little Crossings still boasts an original inn dating back to 1818 –now Penn Alps Restaurant, the historic Casselman Bridge, and thirteen restored cabins, including Compton's One-Room School house, where schoolchildren today can experience life in a schoolhouse of yesterday.



Alta Schrock

Alta Schrock

Dr. Alta E. Schrock
1911-2001

Founder of the Springs Historical Society and the Springs Museum

In 1957 Alta Schrock, while teaching in Indiana, had an imperative call to return to her beloved Alleghenies to serve its people - to provide a marketing arm for their cottage industries, a cultural center to showcase and preserve the area's arts and crafts, its music, history, and spiritual values and to open a restaurant to serve hearty country fare. Her search for a location led her to Little Crossings, Grantsville, Maryland.

Penn Alps Restaurant and Craft Shop are housed in the last log hospitality house on the National Pike still serving the traveler. It is situated between a 1797 gristmill and a historic stone arch bridge ( the longest single span of stone in America when built in 1813 ). Three of its six dining rooms were once part of the log stagecoach stop, Little Crossings Inn.

Penn Alps Restaurant offers a varied menu, including its well-known daily soup and salad bar and weekend buffets. The German ancestry of the Amish and Mennonite charter members of this nonprofit organization is reflected in many entrees on the menu.

The largest handicraft shop in the area is housed with the restaurant in the six times enlarged complex, of which the original log tavern is the core. Today the total crafts producer count is some 2,350 ( dating back to 1958 ). Most of the craftsmen are residents of the Tri-State area.

For many, Penn Alps checks are a major means of support, a fulfillment of the founder's slogan, "To help people to help themselves." Many have gained a new lease on life as a result of finding an outlet for the work of their hands. For the isolated and lonely, craft marketing has brought a meaningful contact with the outside world, and a new sense of dignity and worth.

Spruce Forest Artisan Village, a part of the extended Penn Alps campus, has grown from a few cabins to some 12 log and frame structures of early vintage, two of which date to the Revolutionary War Period. Most of these provide studio space for artisans. The Miller House and Compton School have narrating hosts who volunteer time during the summer. School groups and chartered bus tours often take advantage of the educational and cultural enhancement Spruce Forest Village offers. Artisans work in various media, including: bird carving, basket making, hand-loom weaving, and hand-thrown pottery.

Also produced in the village are stained glass art, hand-forged iron, hand-crafted teddy bears, and hand-crafted natural soaps. Whether looking for a special family dining experience, a shop with unique gift selections, spending time with an artisan at work, basking in history or enjoying mountain scenery, a trip to Penn Alps on the Casselman is a must!



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