Valley Forge's proximity to Phoenixville may be one of the reasons that Peter Campbell Brown is a “history buff,” along with the playground of his youth being historically significant.
Peter is one of the four Brown children (Peter has a twin brother) of Dr. Frank Brown and Joanne Campbell Brown. Dr. Brown was a noted area pediatrician. Joanne Campbell Brown was connected with area history.
It all goes back to the 72-acre Meadow Brook Farm located in Schuylkill Township. In 1926, Peter’s great-grandfather, Eugene Hollowell, died. The farm was sold to the other side of Peter’s family, the Campbells, in 1928.
Plans were to develop the land into plots for individual houses. This project was halted due to the crash of 1929. The land was turned into one of the first miniature golf courses. Finally, the 55-acre grounds were turned into a nine-hole golf course, Meadow Brook Golf Club.
In 2014, the club and land were taken by a conversational public domain action by the Phoenixville Area School District. The pre-revolutionary family house and barn that were built in 1754 remain. It is believed that Benedict Arnold and other Revolutionary War generals were quartered in that house.
Although I don’t golf, I always had an interest in Meadow Brook. My dad, Joe Banjack, managed the golf shop for about eight years in the mid-'60s to the early '70s.
The Brown family lived on Valley Forge Road just where Nutt Road begins. Peter still lives the house along with its one-acre adjoined property.
Peter graduated from Phoenixville Area High School in 1977. In 1981, after attending Gettysburg College, he graduated with a degree in business administration and Spanish. From 1983 to 2002, he worked for the Vanguard Group. It was in 2007 when he joined Berkshire Hathaway as a Realtor.
His interest in history is widespread. His family were charter members of the Historical Social of Phoenixville. For over 15 years, he has been very active, including four years as president and six years as treasurer. He has also served as president and a board member of the Washington Crossing Card Collector’s Club in New Jersey, which is a postcard club.
He has interest in the Schuylkill River Heritage ARea and the Diamond Rock School House. Peter has farmed at Bright Sign Farm in Charlestown. Today, when he finds the time, he keeps gardens on the property on around his home.
Peter likes to cook this easy one-pan recipe when he has the time.
One-pan Chicken Marsala
4-6 chicken breast halves
kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. butter — divided
2 Tbsp. olive oil — divided
2 cups sliced mushrooms (about ½ lb.)
2 cloves garlic — minced
1 cup Marsala wine
1 cup chicken stock
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup chopped parsley (optional/garnish)
½ cup red bell pepper — finely chopped
Place chicken breast halves between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Place on a level surface. Use smooth side of a meat mallet or a rolling pin to pound the chicken breasts into a ½-inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet over medium heat, add one tablespoon of butter and olive oil each. Add chicken, and cook for 2 to 4 minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through. Remove the chicken, and set aside.
Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the remaining butter and olive oil. Sauté mushrooms for 2 to 3 minutes until starting to brown. Add minced garlic, and cook for a few minutes. Add the wine. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add chicken stock and heavy cream, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the sauce by simmering 10 to 20 minutes until it starts to thicken. Add the chicken into the sauce. Coat each side with sauce, and cook for an additional several minutes until chicken is heating through. If you want a thicker sauce, add 1 to 2 teaspoons cornstarch to the cream mixture. Peter suggests to serve with pasta, potatoes and/or vegetables.
This recipe can be easily cut in half.