Bookshelf

Pennsylvania Architecture: The Historic American Buildings Survey, 1933-1990 By Deborah Stephens Bums and Richard J. Web­ster, with Candace Reed Stem Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 2000 (629 pages; cloth, $85.00; paper, $65.00) This hefty volume befits its subject: it is a landmark book devoted to landmark buildings. Copiously illustrated, Pennsylvania Architecture: The Historic...
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Garden Temple at Old Economy Village

One of the earliest gardens in the United States, the garden at Old Economy Village in Ambridge, Beaver County, symbolized the Garden of Eden for the Harmony Society, which occupied the complex from 1824 until it was dissolved in 1905. The nineteenth-century Christian community, best known for its piety and industrial prosperity, was founded by George Rapp (1757-1847) who believed that the...
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WWII Knitted Socks at Pennsylvania Military Museum

During World War II, the American Red Cross sponsored a program to provide handmade garments for refugees and members of the military services by organizing volunteer sewing and knitting workshops. Ruth McDanel Davis, of New Brighton, Beaver County, newlywed bride of a soldier stationed overseas, volunteered for this home front program and knitted gloves, socks, and sweater jackets during three...
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Lost and Found

Lost Gasoline service stations, motor courts, and drive-in theaters were all part of the mid-twentieth century “car culture” by the time Richard and Maurice McDonald’s trademark Golden Arches were first illuminated in 1953 in Phoenix, Ari­zona. Stanley Clark Meston, more a pragmatic problem-solver than a “modern” architect, designed the Golden Arches to be seen from...
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My Summer in the Mill

I was born in the fall of 1960 into a steel mill family in Beaver County. My father worked as a rigger for the Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation O&L) in Aliquippa for thirty-two years. As a young girl I listened to his stories of work and always wondered what it was like inside the mill. I never got any farther than the mill’s main gate where we would wait for him at the end of his...
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New Deal Mural at Old Economy Village

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt launched the New Deal in 1933 to alleviate massive unemployment, stimulate industrial recovery, and create economic growth in the wake of the Great Depression. His relief programs gave work to millions of unemployed Americans including not only construction workers and laborers, but also artists, musicians, and writers. A 1932 graduate of the Art Institute of...
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Art with a Purpose: Pennsylvania’s Museum Extension Project, 1935-1943

Like other relief programs launched during the Great Depression under the aegis of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, the goal of federal arts programs of the 1930s was two-fold: to rescue unemployed Americans from poverty and to produce something of public benefit. One of the unintended byproducts was controversy. In 1937, the Federal Art and Theatre Project unintentionally...
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Can It Already Be Fall?

New Exhibits An exciting new long-term exhibit recently opened at Drake Well Museum and Park at Titusville, Venango County. In the Summer 2011 issue of Pennsylvania Heritage, I profiled the building renovation project at Drake Well, including plans for a geothermal climate control system and a new comprehensive exhibit. There’s a Drop of Oil and Gas in Your Life Every Day, which made its...
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Lost and Found

Lost Under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, a myriad of ambitious economic recovery initiatives, the Section of the Fine Arts of the U.S. Department of the Treasury commissioned artist Niles G. Spencer (1893– 1952) in 1937 to paint a mural for the post office in Aliquippa, Beaver County. Born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Spencer attended the Rhode Island School of Design,...
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Rediscovering the People’s Art: New Deal Murals in Pennsylvania’s Post Offices

On a February morning in 1937, artist George Warren Rickey (1907-2002) and a group of four men met at the post office in Selinsgrove, Snyder County. Armed with cloth-covered rolling pins, the men attached Rickey’s mural entitled Susquehanna Trail to one of the lobby’s end walls. After six hours, they transformed the entire blank white wall, from marble wainscoting to ceiling, into a...
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