News and Notes

News presents briefs about current and forthcoming programs, events, exhibits and activities of historical and cultural institutions in Pennsylvania.

On the Cover

This untitled and undated painting, rendered by Pennsylvania­-born artist George W. Storm (1831-1913), depicts a freight train pulling sectional ca11al boars over the “Muleshoe Curve” of the New Portage Railroad just west of Duncansville, ca. 1855. It was in 1855 that this railroad section was completed and replaced the world­-famous Allegheny Portage Railroad in the Pennsylvania Main line Canal system. Although the Old Portage Railroad was a remarkable engineering feat, it required 33 changes of motive power and a series of 10 incline planes to carry boats over a 2,291-foot crest of the Allegheny Mountains. The New Portage Railroad eliminated the need for the inclines and provided an uninterrupted rail route over the mountain. In 1857 the canal system was purchased by the Penn­sylvania Railroad, however, and it immediately relegated the portage track to a secondary role. Three years before. the PRR had com­pleted a more effective crossing of the mountains west of Altoona via the “Horseshoe Curve.”

The bridge portrayed in the painting stood on or near the loca­tion of the railroad bridge which today spans U.S. Route 22 near the eastern base of Cresson Mountain, Blair County.

 

William Penn Museum Exhibits State Artist

Portraiture achieved great heights in America during the first half of the nineteenth century. Prior to the develop­ment of commercial photography in the 1860s, numerous artists managed to earn a living painting portraits. Among them was a Lancaster painter, Arthur Armstrong (1798-1851).

In an effort to bring to light a Pennsylvania artist hereto­fore relatively unknown, the William Penn Memorial Muse­um has assembled a Joan exhibit of approximately thirty rediscovered Armstrong paintings. The exhibit, entitled “Arthur Armstrong, Portrait Painter,” is scheduled from July 14 to September 4, 1979.

Arthur Armstrong typifies the mid-nineteenth-century painter in his style and choice of subject matter. Stylisti­cally, he followed the American painting tradition of the period, his work reflecting the change in emphasis from classical to romantic. Despite his advertisements boasting a wide range of painting accomplishments, local clientele were primarily interested in his ability to execute portraits.

Armstrong’s life work is exemplified in these paintings which progress from his early primitive attempts. through obscure student years, to studio samples and later refined portraits of Lancaster citizens. His influences are reputed to have been Thomas Sully. the foremost Philadelphia portrait pain1er, and Jacob Eichholtz, the long proclaimed master painter of Lancaster. Armstrong completes this line of tutelage as a significant regional portraitist.

Historically, Armstrong’s portraits serve as visual docu­mentation of Lancaster personages, their manner of dress, character, pride and social position. In some instances. however, Armstrong captures beautiful background land­scapes or introduces objects or historical and social signifi­cance onto his canvases. Yet despite the quality of his work. Armstrong’s fees, “from five to twenty dollars, and upwards,” were considerably less than those of his better known peers even though his portraits were no less accurate or finely rendered.

The exhibit illustrates Arthur Armstrong as worthy of recognition for his contributions to the historical and artistic heritage or Pennsylvania.

 

Preservation Grants Available

Applications for federal historic preservation grants-in-­aid are now available from the PHMC’s Office of Historic Preservation. Established by the National Historic Preserva­tion Act of 1966, this federal program is administered nationally by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Heri­tage Conservation and Recreation Service. The Office of Historic Preservation, in conjunction with the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service, disburses federal funds on the state level for the acquisition, preservation, restoration and rehabilitation of historic buildings and structures entered in to the National Register of Historic Places. Federal funds are also used to encourage innovative and creative survey, planning and educational projects throughout the Commonwealth.

Applicants can be individuals, private and public organi­zations, and nonfederal units of government who are owners of National Register properties. All grants are available on a 50 percent matching reimbursement basis but properties must be listed in the National Register before owners are eligible for financial assistance.

Pennsylvania’s grants- in-aid program awarded $828,000 during federal fiscal year 1979 for acquisition and develop­ment projects, including $41,000 to the Young Men’s Christian Association of Carbondale for a new roof and masonry refinishing on the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company Shops, and $100,000 to Historic Gettysburg. Adams County, Inc., for the preservation of a commercial building in Gettysburg’s central business district. Braddock’s Field Historical Society was awarded $25,000 to pay for one-half of restoring the slate roof of the Carnegie Free Library of Braddock which the society will acquire.

Approximately $1,002,000 of federal fiscal year 1979 funds support the operation and related activities of the Office of Historic Preservation, the on-going historic re­sources survey program, and eleven new survey, planning and educational projects. Included in these planning proj­ects are grants to the city of Wilkes-Barre, Widener College, Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, and the city of Reading. Funding will also promote a creative preservation project by a Philadelphia film company which will produce a documentary chronicling the effects of rehabilitation on older neighborhoods in Philadelphia’s “Old City” area.

Applications for next year’s appropriations are available by contacting William K. Watson, Grants Manager, Office of Historic Preservation, PHMC, Box 1026, Harrisburg 17120, Telephone (717) 787-4363. July 31, 1979, is the official deadline for all applications.