The Conococheague Institute at Rock Hill Farm in Franklin County is pleased to announce that Matthew Wedd joined as the site’s new Operations Manager in early June. With more than ten years of experience in historical education and preservation, Matthew plans to use his many skills to oversee development and growth of the Conococheague Institute.

Matthew previously worked as a Historical Interpreter at Fort Frederick State Park in Big Pool, MD, and as a Historical Custodian at Old Sarum Castle in Salisbury, UK. In these roles, he focused on informal education and providing meaningful cultural experiences to the public, program and exhibit development, natural resources cultivation, and volunteer coordination.

Regarding his new role, Matthew shares, “With historic homes, idyllic walks, birding, and other nature opportunities, there truly is something for everyone to enjoy at the Conococheague Institute.”

Though the site’s buildings and historic structures are closed to the public due to COVID-19, considerable work is underway to improve the site’s aesthetics and educational resources.

Volunteers and staff have dedicated hundreds of hours to improve the site’s gardens, trails, and building exteriors. To increase accessibility during COVID-19 closures, the Conococheague Institute is developing walking tours, now available in outdoor holders. Regular virtual programs are released on the Conococheague Institute’s Facebook page and their YouTube channel every Sunday.

The Conococheague Institute’s summer efforts will be on improving the Negley Cabin and Piper Tavern. As outdoor areas, they are easier to interpret during the Pandemic. With a new focus on hands-on history, these historic structures are perfect for school programs, workshops, and living history demonstrations in the future.

Thanks to a generous donation of $2,000 from volunteer Dennis Kubicki, the site purchased cooking equipment for the Negley Cabin and Piper Tavern. This donation was further utilized to buy fabric for clothing workshops, and so that the site’s team of volunteers can tailor 18th Century clothes for both volunteers and visitors. With similar donations, the Conococheague Institute hopes to embark on similar improvements and programming potential.

Led by Board Member Chuck Holland, volunteers and staff have relaunched a project to build a fully operational 18th Century bake oven. Thanks to a generous donation of lumber from Hicksville Planning Mill, work will soon begin to build the roof of the bake oven using staff and volunteers.

A new complimentary children’s ‘Explorer’ activity pack is in development and be available soon for families with young children to enjoy while visiting the Conococheague Institute.

Even in the heat of Summer, new visitors have been stopping by daily, drawn by social media activity. The site hopes that the momentum of engaged visitor activity continues to build.

COMING August 1:  Midsummer Memories: A Glimpse of Colonial Life & Crafts FREE EVENT – An 18th Century Open Grounds Day where visitors may enjoy the many acres of CI safely as staff and volunteers interpret the history of the Appalachian frontier. More on Eventbrite.


The mission of the Conococheague Institute is to develop and foster awareness, understanding, and stewardship of the cultural and natural history of the Appalachian frontier of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. The Institute strives to achieve its mission through education, research, and preservation.