It's a typical furnace, one of many that used to dot the Pennsylvania countryside in the 18th and 19th centuries. Once the plant was in full operation, many homes, artisans' shops, stores, schools, churches, and the home of the wealthy ironmaster were built around it. Cornwall Iron Furnace was once a thriving and self-sufficient village all on it's own.
In the 1730's, Peter Grubb, a stone mason, began mining nearby. In 1742, Mr. Grubb established the furnace, naming it Cornwall after his father's birthplace in Cornwall England. In it's hay-day, the facility produced one-seventh of the world's iron and was a leader in the industry.
Cornwall Iron Furnace remained in business until 1883, when newer and more efficient iron furnaces sprung up across the nation. These new iron furnaces were fueled by anthracite coal which made made this type of furnace obsolete. The furnace was abandoned until it was donated to the state of Pennsylvania in 1932 by Margaret Coleman Freeman Buckingham, the great granddaughter of Robert Coleman. The state has turned the property into a historical museum.