News Column

Perryopolis dedicates history museum during bicentennial

June 28, 2014

By Mark Hofmann, The Daily Courier, Connellsville, Pa.

June 28--The history of Perryopolis, told through artifacts from the borough, was on display for the opening of the Old State Bank Museum during the second day of the town's bicentennial.

"We are overjoyed we have completed it," said Noreen Halvonik, treasurer of the Perryopolis Parks and Recreation board and member of the bicentennial committee.

Halvonik and others who have worked to transform the nearly 200-year-old building into a museum were overjoyed because the idea to have a museum featuring borough artifacts started five years ago from resident Gladys Powell.

With Powell's inspiration, resident Joan Lyons spent five years researching the artifacts, and the organizers dedicated the museum exhibits to them.

"There are a lot of people who made this possible," said Eldo DiVirgilio, one of the founding members of the Perryopolis Area Heritage Society.

Since organization of the society in 1989, DiVirgilio said they restored the George Washington Grist Mill and established Sampey Park, but one thing he never envisioned happening was the old bank building turned into a museum.

"This is fantastic," DiVirgilio said. "There were a lot of people who made this possible."

Halvonik said the building was built in 1816 and is the oldest building in the borough; it has been the bank building, a post office, a school, a restaurant and finally a doctor's office before sitting empty for nearly 30 years until it officially became a museum on Friday.

"It has been everything you can think of," Halvonik said, adding the building is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Halvonik said they have accumulated nearly 1,000 artifacts, including helmets from World War I and World War II, a spring wheel, Indian-head arrows, early settlement tools, old print advertisements for local businesses, ledgers, souvenirs from the borough's centennial celebration and even three glass pieces from what was well-known as the Green Glass Co.

"The holy grail of bottle-making was right here," Halvonik said, adding that a glass-making presentation is scheduled for 3 p.m. today in the museum on Liberty Street.

Paul Black, president of Perryopolis Borough Council, congratulated the Perryopolis Parks and Recreation board and Perryopolis Area Heritage Society for "a labor of love" in opening the museum.

Halvonik said a soft opening was held by invitation only at the museum a month ago for those who were involved in making the dream of the museum a reality.

"I think people were pleasantly surprised," Halvonik said, adding that there are no hours for the museum or its genealogy research room, but they'll work on that after the long bicentennial weekend. "I'm so glad we're done."

Well, almost done. Halvonik said the society is working on a children's museum in the building on the top level.

For information on the Perryopolis Bicentennial, including scheduled events, visit

Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media.


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Source: Daily Courier (Connellsville, PA)

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