Kiski Valley Museum Open House Tour helps rekindle interest in the region’s history
From a vintage 1925 fire truck to an exhibit of antique toys to an exhibit of doomed murderer Martha Grinder, a Kiski Valley museum tour on Sunday had something for everyone.
The tour included exhibits from the Victorian Vandergrift Museum and Historical Society, as well as the Apollo, Hyde Park and Leechburg museums.
These museums don’t have any money to advertise, so the tour was meant to educate people. About 65 people took advantage of a shuttle that took them to the four destinations.
“The pandemic shut us down last year and we decided that we had to get people interested again in museums in these small towns,” said Anthony Ferrante, president of VVMHS. “You ask half the people of Vandergrift, Apollo, Hyde Park and Leechburg if they have a museum in their town, and I guarantee you they’ll say, ‘We don’t have a museum.’ So we’re trying to get the word out.
A garage beneath the Vandergrift Museum housed a 1925 fire engine that proved fascinating enough to hold the attention of Mason Patzer, 7, and his brother, Ben, 6.
In the neighboring main building, numerous exhibits honor Vandergrift’s military heritage, focusing primarily on the area’s WWII veterans whose families donated medals, uniforms and photos of hundreds of soldiers. . An exhibit is dedicated to the region’s first soldier to die in WWII – Sgt. Howard Glenn Hall.
Other exhibits included memorabilia from former Kiski area high school football coach Frank Morea, who chaired a perennial powerhouse in the 1970s. Items included game movies, clothing, and programming games.
“People were looking for who had their names and everything,” Ferrante said.
At the Apollo Museum and Historical Society, a vintage toy exhibit featured antique dollhouses that brought back memories of Sandy Ashbaugh of West Leechburg.
“I still have the dollhouse I had when I was a kid and all the furniture,” she said. “It’s fantastic. There is so much to see. It’s just wonderful. He has so much to give, and no one knows he’s here.
Her friend Janice Vovaris from Leechburg said it was her first time on the tour and would definitely recommend it to others. There were also toys that caught his attention.
“I remember dolls like this with painted hair. I remember those. I had one, ”she said.
Dennis Chapman, 68, and his wife, Dot, 66, of Upper Burrell, were especially fascinated by the Hyde Park exhibit of convicted murderer Martha Grinder, who was hanged for poisoning people by putting arsenic in their food.
The exhibit featured newspaper articles and photos documenting his murderous adventures and eventual execution in Pittsburgh in 1869.
“It’s history, and that’s what she’s famous for,” Dot said. “It was a big deal back then. It’s still a big problem. “
Hyde Park Museum and Historical Society treasurer and organizer Kathleen Baker said the hope is that those who have made the tour will return and encourage others to visit all of the museums in the Kiski Valley.
“Each museum is unique,” she said. “Each of them has its own particularity.”
Paul Guggenheimer is an editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected]