“Mrs. Hannum” Honored with Fifth Annual Rebecca Lukens Award

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Lukens National Historic District to present Fifth Rebecca Lukens Award Posthumously to Lady Master of The Hounds and Community Leader, Nancy Penn Smith Hannum

The Graystone Society, located in the Lukens National Historic District in Coatesville, has announced its fifth annual Rebecca Lukens Award to be presented to noted Chester County icon, Nancy Penn Smith Hannum, or as she preferred to be called simply, “Mrs. Hannum.” Established by The Graystone Society to honor individuals who exhibit the qualities of Rebecca Lukens, the annual award will be presented posthumously to Mrs. Hannum at a March 17th reception in the Lukens Executive Office Building, the date commemorating Rebecca Lukens’ 217th birthday.

Mrs. Hannum, a Chester County conservation force whose fiery passion was always tempered by kindness, passed away last March at the age of 90. She was the daughter of Richard Penn Smith and Carol Harriman Penn Smith. Her grandfather was noted financier and chief executive officer, E. H. Harriman (head of the Union Pacific Railroad and other major railroads). Another family notable, her uncle, Averell Harriman, was a legendary governor of New York State and Ambassador to the Soviet Union during World War II.

Born on Long Island, in 1919, Mrs. Hannum grew up in a life filled with horses, hounds and foxes. Black riding hats and scarlet hunt jackets were a common sight to this industrious young woman. She was an accomplished equestrian, and also trained horses, many of whom went on to win prestigious steeplechase awards.

Eventually, Mrs. Hannum had to give up riding due to multiple injuries, which kept her out of the saddle and forced her into a Jeep instead. Her step-father (her biological father passed away in 1929) was a Master of the Hounds (a person who maintains the kennels for a fox hunt and is master of the field, among other duties). In fact, her stepfather, W. Plunkett Stewart, founded the pack of hounds (Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds), which he mastered until his death in 1948. At that time, young Nancy took over the mastership from her stepfather.

When Stewart moved his family to Unionville, he immediately started to buy land parcels and eventually would accumulate over 5,000 acres in that pastoral community. He also encouraged all of his friends to do the same. With power comes responsibility, and that was not lost on young Nancy, who eventually married John Hannum III in the winter of 1940. With their home at Brooklawn, deeded in 1682, Mrs. Hannum realized the importance of preserving the beauty of the land for future generations. With that thought in mind, she became active in land conservation and open-space preservation. She did this through donating “conservation” easements on her multitude of real estate holdings and “encouraged” most of her friends and colleagues to do the same. Many will tell you that if you enjoy the beautiful bucolic landscapes along Rt. 82 in Unionville, you largely have Mrs. Hannum to thank.

Mrs. Hannum, and her husband John, were the parents of three children: John B. “Jock” Hannum, Jr., Richard “Buzz” Hannum, and a daughter, Carol H. Davidson. Mrs. Hannum’s husband pre-deceased her in 2007.

Mrs. Hannum was also active in many civic and community organizations. She was a founding board member of the Upland Country Day School, now located in Kennett Square. She was a motivating board member of Chester County Parks and Recreations, as well as the West Chester University Foundation. In addition, Nancy L. Mohr memorialized her in the book, The Lady Blows a Horn.

The Rebecca Lukens Award will be presented to the family of Mrs. Hannum at a reception in the Lukens Executive Office Building, 50 South First Avenue, in Coatesville, PA, on March 17, 2011 from 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $35 and reservations are required. This event also is made possible through the kindness of the following sponsors:

PECO Energy; Rainer & Company; Huston Properties, Inc; The Stewart Huston Charitable Trust; and Mr. & Mrs. Scott G. Huston.

The Graystone Society, which was created in 1984 to help preserve the city’s historic architecture, also assists with municipal improvement and economic development through preservation. The Graystone Society is named for the Graystone Mansion, part of The Lukens National Historic District, which is the future home of The National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum.

One focal point of the museum will be the 500 tons of World Trade Center steel “trees” originally manufactured at Lukens Steel in the late 1960’s. This museum will also focus on the people, places, products and processes that made Coatesville the outstanding center of the iron and steel industry that it is today. For event information and reservations, please contact The Graystone Society at 610-384-9282 or graystone(at)lukensnhd(dot)org.

The Lukens National Historic District is located at 50 South First Avenue, Coatesville, PA 19320.

(Sources cited for this press release include: Chris Barber of The Avon Grove Sun, Anne Pickering of The Delaware County Times, Terry Conway of The Hunt, Walter Naedele of The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Hannum Family.)

For more information on this release, contact Melinda Williams at The Williams Group, 610-518-4888 or visit http://www.thewilliamsgroup.info. For event information and reservations, please contact The Graystone Society at 610-384-9282 or graystone(at)lukensnhd(dot)org

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Melinda M. Williams
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