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 beautifully hand-crafted prospect door with flanking docu­ment drawers is from the interior of a secretary desk and exemplifies the finest execution of Lancaster Chippendale carving found on case pieces from the Manheim, Lancaster and Lampeter-Strasburg areas. Dating from 1780 to 1810, these walnut desks show the strong influence of England and Philadelphia on Lancaster County artisans who then proceeded to carve these forms to conform with their Germanic tastes.

This particular secretary desk is on display at the Heritage Center of Lancaster County, located in the Old City Hall building, Penn Square, Lancaster. The museum’s goal is to preserve and display the finest available decorative arts produced in the county, including furniture, folk art, silver, textiles, iron, copper and Pennsylvania rifles. (Photo: The Heritage Center of Lancaster County, Courtesy of Dietrich Brothers Americana Corporation)

 

Additions to the National Register of Historic Places

New federal legislation governing the National Register program. which was signed into law by President Carter on December 12, 1980, subs tan ti ally changed the nomination process. The law, titled the “National Historic Preservation Amendments Act of 1980,” clearly directs that nomina­tions of privately owned properties are to be made only in the absence of objection by the owner. All owners are to be advised of their right to concur in or object to a nomina­tion. The act further provides for an eligibility determina­tion process for nominations in cases of owner objection and requires both the United States Department of the Interior and the states to establish mechanisms for the appeal of nomination decisions.

The National Register office in Washington, D.C. is now in the process of preparing procedures and regulations for implementing the law. Until the procedures and regulations are approved by Congress and are ready for implementa­tion, no privately owned properties can be nominated to the National Register. During the interim. the Bureau for Historic Preservation is still accepting nominations for listing on the Pennsylvania Inventory until that time when the National Register is again accepting nominations. When the Register is reopened, nominations will be processed according to priorities established by the Bureau for Historic Preservation.

 

Preservation Office Granted Bureau Status

Bureau status for the Office of Historic Preservation has been officially approved by the Commonwealth’s Executive Board, acting upon the recommendation of Budget and Ad­ministration Secretary Robert C. Wilburn. Originally the historic preservation program was placed in the Commis­sion’s Bureau of Historic Sites and Properties and later established as an adjunct to the Office of the Executive Dir­ector. The bureau is now one of four existing within the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

The new organization clarifies and enhances the Com­mission’s role in community conservation and economic development by placing added emphasis on the rehabilita­tion of historic structures and older neighborhoods through local ownership as opposed to state acquisition. Rather than acquiring historic buildings and sites to “save them,” the Bureau for Historic Preservation will provide technical and limited financial assistance to local property owners, both public and private.

The PHMC, through the Bureau for Historic Preserva­tion, accepts fifty per cent federal matching funds and ad­ministers the Department of the Interior’s historic preserva­tion program in Pennsylvania. Federal funding for fiscal year 1980, amounting to slightly more than $1.5 million, permitted financial assistance for 80 local projects to identify, develop and preserve historic buildings and areas in the Commonwealth. The bureau also administers the tax act certification program providing developers and investors with federal income tax incentives for rehabilitating historic commercial structures according to guidelines mandated by the Secretary of Interior.

 

Silver Service Set for William Penn Memorial Museum Exhibition

A major exhibition, “The U.S.S. Pennsylvania and Her Silver,” will open Saturday, September 26, at the William Penn Memorial Museum in Harrisburg. The ship’s sterling silver service, fashioned by J. E. Caldwell and Company of Philadelphia in 1904 for the armored cruiser Pennsylvania, will be displayed complete for the first time. The collec­tion was transferred to the Commonwealth in 1971 by direction of the Secretary of the Navy.

Certain to impress visitors will be a giant flower bowl, five feet long and three feet high, which introduces the ex­hibit. The 162 pieces of the service, cleaned and restored especially for this show, will be displayed in various group­ings, although the bulk of the silver will be arranged in a single large exhibit area. The show will not only excite the eye but will also serve to explain the use and manufacture of silver.

In addition to the service itself, a portion of the exhibit will focus on the three ships which have carried the name Pennsylvania. Artifacts and prints relating to the first, a wooden, 120-gun ship of the line built in Philadelphia be­tween 1821 and 1837, will be featured, as will a 10-foot­long builder’s model and half-model of the second Pennsyl­vania (1905-1912), the armored cruiser for which the silver was crafted. Battleship Number 38, the third U.S.S. Penn­sylvania, which fought in World Warn earning eight engage­ment stars, will also be represented through a model, artifacts, graphics, uniforms and flags.

Typically, each capital ship of the Navy had its own silver service, which played a conspicuous role in the offi­cial social activities associated with the important diplo­matic missions fulfilled by major naval vessels in peacetime. These services were often the gift of the state or city for which the ship was named. The silver service of the U.S.S. Pennsylvania, which was donated by the Commonwealth, represents what is surely one of the finest and most gener­ous examples of this practice.

“The U.S.S. Pennsylvania and Her Silver” will remain at the William Penn Memorial Museum, Third and North streets, Harrisburg, through July 11, 1982. A catalogue will be available as an aid to interpret the show, and other public programs relating to the display are planned for October-November 1981 and April-May 1982.

 

Pennsylvanians Place in National Contest

Pennsylvania had three winning entries from the over 800 students sponsored by 27 states who met at the Univer­sity of Maryland on June 11-13 [1981] to participate in the Na­tional History Day competitions. The Commonwealth was well represented by twenty award-winning projects com­pleted by junior and senior high school students from around the state. Entries were judged by teams of history professionals in five categories for both junior and senior divisions: individual and group dramatic performances, historical papers, and individual and group exhibits.

In the junior division, the group of Tina Bennett, Debbie Parsons, Tom Dineen, Rene Veloso and Chris Reohe from Nether Providence Middle School in Wallingford placed third for their performance entitled “Trade Unions: A Vision of the Future.” Taking a second in the category of group project for their entry .. Philly’s Finest Feathered Frolic” were Edgar Collazo, Jerome Licup and Michael Fialko from Incarnation School in Philadelphia. Another second-place award was presented to Thomas Houts from Lower Dauphin High School in Hummelstown for his senior essay on “The Volunteer Bands of Hummelstown, Pa., 1869-1927.”

These students and the others from Pennsylvania who participated at nationals were selected from the History Day in Pennsylvania program which culminated in a state­wide competition sponsored by the Commission. More than 300 stu­dents participated in the state finals held in May on what had been officially proclaimed by Governor Thornburgh as “History Day.” Approximately 5,000 students, grades six through twelve, took part in the regional competitions which Jed up to the finals.

Pennsylvanians can be proud of the young people who represented them in this past History Day program. Look­ing toward the future, plans are already under way for next year’s regional and state contests. Interested individuals (students, teachers, parents, etc.) should contact the Divi­sion of History, PHMC, Box 1026, Harrisburg 17120.

 

Recording State Archeological Sites

This year the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Com­mission became the sole repository in the state charged with the responsibility of assigning registration numbers and recording archeological sites throughout the Common­wealth. Since the early 1950s, as a matter of convenience, there had been two recording stations, each responsible for a specific set of counties. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Section of Man, in Pittsburgh originally assigned numbers and kept the files for the twenty-two western­most counties of the state. The Section of Archeology of the PHMC was initially responsible for the remainder of the Commonwealth.

With the implementation of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, Executive Order 11593, and the regulations of the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation (36 C.F.R. 800), it became increasingly im­portant for the Commission to have current and complete files on all archeological sites. As a function of the Historic Preservation Act, each state was given responsibility for recording and managing its cultural resources. In Pennsyl­vania this meant that the Commission, acting on behalf of the Commonwealth, was now obligated to receive notices of construction projects to be undertaken by state or federal agencies, evaluate the impact of these projects upon cultural re-sources (both historic and prehistoric) and make the appropriate responses to the agencies involved. To assist the PHMC with its reviews, four regional archeological offices have been established across the state.

With these new responsibilities and increased demands for use of the Commission’s archeological site files, the need for complete and up-to-date site survey records soon became apparent. Although Carnegie had performed an impressive and valuable service over the years, both record­ing stations came to realize the need, for efficiency’s sake, to centralize the information gathering function at one location. The decision was then made to make the PHMC the sole repository.

In order to maintain Carnegie’s site files, around which much of its research is geared, an agreement has been reached which assists that museum in keeping those files up to date. Any site forms now sent to the PHMC from the twenty-two counties previously covered by Carnegie are assigned a number by the Commission and copies are then forwarded to the Pittsburgh museum. Those site forms which are first sent to Carnegie will likewise be duplicated there and the originals forwarded to the Commission where a site number is then assigned. In this way, all records are now centralized at the PHMC, Carnegie continues its up-to­-date site files for the western counties and the preservation of cultural resources continues.

For further information concerning this new arrange­ment, please contact Kurt Carr, Section of Archeology, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Box 1026, Harrisburg 17120, or call (717) 783-5216.

 

Governor Presented With Special Issue

At a ceremony recently conducted in the governor’s private office at the State Capitol, Mrs. Vivian Piasecki, chairman of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Com­mission, presented a copy of the special issue of Pennsyl­vania Heritage dedicated to Pennsylvania’s 300th anniver­sary to Governor Dick Thornburgh. Following the pre­sentation, the Governor echoed the remarks he had written earlier in his letter to readers which introduces the issue:

As we commemorate Pennsylvania s 300th Birth­day, it is fitting that we take note of the principles and values which formed the foundation upon which our states distinctive character developed. If we are to understand and fully appreciate our heritage with the clarity necessary to preserve and perpetuate it, it is vital that we understand the process by which it has developed. There is no more appropriate time to do so-to take stock of the past, to consider the present and to look as best we can to the future-than such a memorable occasion as the 300th anniversary of our states founding.

For that reason, it is especially fitting that this journal, devoted as its name implies to the great heri­tage we share as Pennsylvanians, should address itself to the diversity which characterizes our beginnings and the unity to which it has given rise.

Copies of the Tercentenary Issue of Heritage are still available and will continue to be so throughout the 300th anniversary celebration.