Meet the NOVA Hut Brigade
In 2006, a hut at Muhlenberg Brigade was burned in an
act of arson. This terrible criminal action became the
wonderful impetus for the NOVA Hut Brigade, volunteers
that were primarily involved in replacing the huts’
shingled roofs. While the Park provided materials and
supervision with funding by the Valley Forge Park Alliance,
the Brigade provided the labor and rebuilt the hut from
the ground up in just eight weekends!
Some of the 20 Hut Brigade volunteers that arrive throughout the year to assist with projects.
NOVA (Network Of Volunteer Associates) is a community
service organization previously sponsored by Lockheed Martin. The
Hut Brigade, one of many community service projects
supported by NOVA, has continued maintenance of the huts
such as rebuilding chimneys, building bunks and
replacing doors. In more recent years, the Brigade has
expanded services to assist the Park and improve the
visitor experience by making lanterns, popular water
yokes, gabions for Ft. Moore, stools and new benches at
to learn more.
Printable volunteer FAQ.
THREE GREAT WAYS TO SUPPORT THE HUT BRIGADE
New recruits welcomed!
Familiarity with basic hand tools would be helpful but prior construction or building experience is not necessary.
Park rules require volunteers to be at least 16 years old.
ADD YOUR SUPPORT
and support this important work.
JOIN THE MAILING LIST
Not sure when you can assist? Join the Hut Brigade mailing list to stay informed
of upcoming work dates, progress on current projects, and new work to come.
Email to join the list.
2015 NOVA Hut Brigade Highlights
This summer was no exception to the valuable work and
impact of the NOVA Hut Brigade. The Park, Alliance, and
visitors are grateful for the important and remarkable
repairs and improvements made possible by this dedicated
and skilled group of volunteers.
After several weather related postponements, the
NOVA Valley Forge Hut Brigade kicked off the
2015 season on Saturday, March 14. The goal for
2015 was to complete the restoration of the
Blacksmith Hut, begun in 2014. While the Hut
Brigade was working towards this goal, the Park
contracted the building of four new huts near
the Visitor Center. The Hut Brigade was quick to
volunteer – from debarking and daubing to
whatever necessary in assisting the Park to
complete the new huts for visitors to enjoy.
March • Work Begins Despite Inclement Weather
Volunteers devote efforts to constructing four
large double doors and four window shutters that
will be installed in the Blacksmith’s hut.
Despite rain, folks stayed warm and dry by
working in the Park’s Carpentry Shop and
successfully construct new doors plus windows
that will be installed as a part of the
Blacksmith Hut restoration.
April • Debarking Logs for New Huts
About 200 logs are needed for the four new huts
contracted by the Park to be built near the
Visitor Center. The Hut Brigade lends a hand
(and strong back) to assist in debarking the new
logs. Also, new doors and window shutters
constructed in the winter months are installed
in the Blacksmith Hut.
April • Junior Ranger Day
Hut Brigade volunteers engage Junior Ranger Day
participants through How to Build a Hut
demonstrations using hut building tools such as
drawknives, adzes, shaving benches, etc. plus
allowing visitors to test their skills at
daubing a log wall.
May • New Members Arrive and Assist with the Heavy Lifting
Hut Brigade begins mounting the new doors made
earlier this winter with each weighing close to
200 pounds! Fortunately, two new members,
Christina Cassidy and Fran LaPenna, arrived and
were able to help in the completion of mounting
June • The End is in Sight!
The end is finally in sight on completion of the
Blacksmith Hut. Two of the four doors were hung
with the other two soon to follow. The next BIG
job is in sight – assisting Park staff with
completing the four new huts at Muhlenberg
Brigade. Completion includes daubing, chinking,
building doors, and completing the fireplaces.
July • July 4th Community Picnic in the Park
The Hut Brigade entertains Park visitors with
Water Yoke games where visitors get to
experience carrying water the way the
Revolutionary Soldiers did, using water yokes
and buckets. A new game, How to Build a Hut,
was added and was a big hit among all ages.
July • Restoration of the Blacksmith Hut Complete!
Renovations on the Blacksmith Hut continue until
the last door is hung and window installed.
Except for a few minor clean-up tasks such as
latches and hardware… the renovations are
complete. Great Work Hut Brigade!
August • Playing with Mud – Daubing Begins
Daubing of the new soldiers huts begins. While
making significant progress, there is still much
to be done. Jeanne and Janelle Miller, charter
members of the original Hut Brigade as well as
world class dauber Ken Saler and his friend
Vince DiBella lend a hand. We are fortunate to
be joined by five new members – Eric Nielsen,
Jodi Bergman, Susan Brown, plus Dan Baldner who
was visiting the Park and jumped in to
assist. As a special treat, Dan Weckerly,
Communications Manager of the Valley Forge
Tourism and Convention Bureau joins the action
and documents his Hut Brigade experience in the
Dabbling at Daubing.
2014 NOVA Hut Brigade Highlights
April • Junior Ranger Day
Visitors get an up-close understanding about hut building and tools of the encampment
June • Restoration of the Blacksmith Hut next to Artillery Park
Under the expert guidance of Ranger Pat Sullivan, the
Hut Brigade begins the summer-long restoration of the
replica of the hut which served as the Blacksmith Shop during the
encampment. Tasks include removal and replacement of
rotted logs and rebuilding windows and doors.
July • The Bucket Brigade
Hut Brigade engages July 4th visitors then morphs into
the Bucket Brigade to make colonial style wooden
buckets. Used in conjunction with water yokes, visitors
get a more authentic experience of hauling water.
August • Blacksmith Hut renovations are taking shape
New window and door frames are installed. While more
renovations are required, the results of the labor are
August • Attention turns to making new park benches
October • Work continues on east window frame and door jambs
November • Daubing and chinking
Work includes daubing or filling the spaces between
logs with a mixture of sand and cement, simulating
the mud used by the Revolutionary soldiers,
chinking (laying stones for a step outside the hut
entrance), and start of constructing shutters and
December • End of the season
Season concludes on a high note by building two
doors as the next step in the Blacksmith Hut
restoration. Each door measures about six feet high
by four feet wide and constructed from one inch
thick oak planks. HEAVY stuff but not for the Hut
History of the NOVA Hut Brigade
NOVA (Network Of Volunteer Associates) is a
community service organization previously sponsored by Lockheed Martin.
The Lockheed Martin facility in King of Prussia
was originally the home of the General Electric Space
Division. GE sponsored the ELFUN Society that performed
numerous community service projects. Projects at Valley
Forge National Historical Park started in the
1980s. Initially focused on landscaping such as planting
trees and wildflowers, the work gradually expanded to
include replacing shingled roofs on the wooden huts.
In 1993 GE was sold to Martin Marietta, which
subsequently merged with Lockheed Aircraft Corp. to form
the Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMCO). LMCO formed the NOVA
organization to replace the GE ELFUN Society. While
maintenance and other projects continued at the Park,
the NOVA Hut Brigade surfaced and jumped into action
after a hut at Muhlenberg Brigade was burned in 2006 in
an act of arson. While the Park provided materials and
supervision, the Hut Brigade provided the labor and
rebuilt the hut from the ground up in just eight
This group of skilled and dedicated volunteers meets
year-round. The Brigade continues to provide maintenance
to the huts including rebuilding chimneys, building
bunks, and replacing doors. In more recent years, the
Brigade has expanding services to assist the Park and
improve the visitor experience by making lanterns,
popular water yokes, gabions for Ft. Moore, stools and
benches at Muhlenberg Brigade.
Current work focuses on restoring a hut adjacent to the
Artillery Park which is a replica of the original
Blacksmith Shop during the 1777–1778 winter Encampment.
Several window and door frames have been replaced. Additional work is still
required and includes construction of new doors and
shutters, along with replacing several rotted logs.
VOLUNTEERS WELCOMED: The Hut Brigade welcomes all
interested parties – you need not be a member of NOVA to
participate. Familiarity with basic hand tools would be
helpful but prior construction or building experience is
not necessary. Park rules require volunteers to be at
least 16 years old. If you are interested in learning
more or willing to assist please contact