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

The Flash Lighthouse, now under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard, was built between 1872 and 1873 along the north shore of Presque Isle Peninsula. The landmark was named for the alternating red and white flashing light which once sat atop the rower seventy-three feet above the surface of Lake Erie. Today, however, the flashing colored light has been replaced by a rotating white-beamed beacon which warns ships up to eighteen miles away of the shoreline’s presence. Until 1941 when an automatic timing system was installed, the light was activated by a keeper who lived in the brick dwelling to the right of the tower.

The isolated lighthouse, resting in a picturesque setting sur­rounded by cedars and evergreens, has long been an attraction to those who have seen it from the land as well as from the sea.


Plans Announced for Tercentenary

A general outline of plans for the celebration of Penn­sylvania’s 300th anniversary was recently announced by William J. Wewer, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The two-year observance will include a series of state-wide activities to begin with the anniversary of the granting of the colony’s charter by King Charles II to William Penn on March 14, 1681. The celebration will continue through the commemoration of the adoption of the “Second Frame of Government” by the Provincial Assembly on April 3, 1683. Emphasis will be placed not only on the events surrounding the founding of Pennsylvania but also on the principles established and their influence during the evolution of the Commonwealth over the past 300 years.

John B. B. Trussell. a staff historian, has been named coordinator of the Commission’s activities. These activities will include ceremonies highlighting specific events, special museum exhibits pertaining to the life of William Penn in Pennsylvania, displays of original copies of historic docu­ments from the State Archives, a series of publications and other informational materials dealing with the founding and developing of the colony, and sponsorship of public discus­sions and lectures on the Pennsylvania experience.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission plans also call for full utilization of its historical, archival and publication resources throughout the entire network of museums and historic sites and properties operated by the Commonwealth. In addition, local historical organizations will be encouraged and assisted in their own tercentenary activities. A number of the displays are to be permanent, and these, together with published materials, will generate commemorative items of lasting value for the study of Pennsylvania’s evolution and her influential place in Ameri­can history.


Rural Life and Culture Institute Announced

The twenty-third annual Institute of Pennsylvania Rural Life and Culture, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and The Landis Valley Associates, will be held at the Pennsylvania Farm Museum of Landis Valley, located near Lancaster, June 19-22. This year’s program of six seminars and seven workshops is designed to promote the theme “The Rural Environment, Past and Present.” Seminar topics to be presented are: “Pennsyl­vania’s Farm Ecology, 1700 to 1900;” “A Prospectus of Mathematical Principles Applied in Vernacular Architect­ure;” “Historic Preservation – Its Effect Upon Our Environ­ment;” “Pennsylvania Antiques – 1979 Edition;” “English Tools, Their Influence on Pre-Industrial America;” and “The Painter’s Reflection of Pennsylvania.” Craft work­shops, emphasizing the mastery of basic traditional tech­niques associated with the respective crafts, are: American Toleware Painting; Traditional Pennsylvania German Counted-Thread Embroidery; Traditional Tinsmithing; Fundamentals of Woodcarving; Interior Wall Stenciling; Ryestraw Basketry; and Traditional Patchwork Quilting. In addition to the daily program, evening activities will be presented drawing upon the historical and cultural resources in the Lancaster vicinity.

For additional information write to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Institute, P. O. Box 1026, Harrisburg 17120.


Preservation Law Enacted

Pennsylvania’s first comprehensive historic preservation law was signed by Governor Milton J. Sha pp on Wednesday, November 22, 1978, one week following its unanimous endorsement by the state Senate.

The Historic Preservation Act (House Bill 1249) – which establishes an official Pennsylvania Register of Historic Places and a Historic Preservation Board – grants the Penn­sylvania Historical and Museum Commission the responsi­bility to initiate and encourage historic preservation throughout the Commonwealth. The act requires: initiation of a state-wide survey to identify and record historic build­ings and structures in all sixty-seven counties; extensive technical and financial assistance to public officials, private individuals and organizations engaged in preservation activities; and the protection of buildings, bridges, arche­ological sites and other historically or culturally significant properties in Pennsylvania from inadvertent destruction.

Composed of nine citizens with demonstrated compe­tence in architecture, archeology, architectural history, history or historic preservation, the Historic Preservation Board is charged with reviewing the Commission’s compre­hensive historic preservation plan. The board will also advise the Commission on the criteria of significance for naming buildings, sites, objects and districts to the Penn­sylvania Register of Historic Places. Pursuant to provisions of the act, the Pennsylvania Register is a selective catalog of architecturally and historically important properties in the Commonwealth and will be periodically published by the Office of Historic Preservation.

In a statement made during the signing ceremony held in the Governor’s reception room, Governor Shapp said “historic preservation is now the key to the economic revitalization of historic down town business districts, as well as a significant force in retaining the quality of life in countless neighborhoods and rural areas.” Shapp also expressed appreciation for the legislature’s encouragement and sanction of preservation overseen by public officials which the governor had initiated by Executive Order in 1975.

“Just as ecologists in the 1960s gathered momentum in their effort to protect our natural resources,” continued the governor, “historic preservationists in the 1970s are helping us to appreciate our built environment and the evermore apparent fact that preservation is indeed progress.”

Ed Weintraub, State Historic Preservation Officer and Director of the Office of Historic Preservation, noted that the act “supports many of the activities now handled by the Office of Historic Preservation. It finally clarifies the duties of the preservation office and will help the Commis­sion protect Pennsylvania’s endangered historic properties and archeological sites.” Provisions of the preservation act include penalties for defacing, destroying or altering any archeological sites controlled by the Commonwealth.

The new law is the first historic preservation legislation since the 1961 Act 167 authorizing localities to create historic districts.

Copies of the Historic Preservation Act may be obtained by sending a stamped self-addressed envelope to the Office of Historic Preservation, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Box 1026, Harrisburg 17120.