Bethel Park Historical Society Project Donations Surpass $ 1 Million | New
Five years ago this month, the Bethel Park Historical Society embarked on fundraising to renovate the South Park Road building, originally built as a high school in 1905.
“We have set a goal of one million dollars,” said Tim Moury, president of the historical society. “People looked at us – even we looked at each other – saying, what do you think the odds are? Can we do it? “
At an October 3 open house in the building, he announced that the historical society had received a $ 10,000 grant from the Bethel Park Community Foundation.
“Between donations, fundraising and in-kind services, our total dollar amount is one million eight thousand dollars,” he said. “It’s really amazing how much the community has been supportive of our project. “
Local residents certainly supported the open house, nearly filling the old renovated upstairs classroom that was dedicated during the event as the Community Foundation auditorium.
The Secretary of the Historical Society, Bill Haberthur, provided an update of additional improvements that have occurred over the past two years.
“We haven’t let a small pandemic stop our progress,” he laughed.
For example, the original bell was placed in a dome atop the roof of what is now known as the Schoolhouse Arts and History Center. In fact, the ringing of the bell marked the start of the open house, just like it would be a school day.
The historical society received a grant of $ 170,000 for the modernization of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, and the work is nearing completion, Haberthur said. The electrical system has gone from fuses to circuit breakers, and more toilets are now available for visitors.
The 11 exterior doors have been replaced and over the next few weeks the building will receive new gutters and downspouts.
“Not only have we made renovations, but we have greatly enriched our collection,” said Haberthur, as donations of items continue to increase the historical society’s presentation of local memorabilia related to education, to the army, coal mining and other areas of interest.
The Community Foundation grant-funded project, “Raise the Flag,” involves moving the former St. Valentine School flag pole, which was dedicated by foreign war veterans in 1961, to the center of art and history.
“It’s probably more cost effective to buy a new one than to move the old one, but we’re here to preserve history,” Moury said.
Another fundraising effort, coordinated by society members Jim and Lisa Jenkins, was the sale of trees to be planted along the Park Avenue side of the building.
“We did this to really put it back to where it was when this building was originally built,” Moury said. “If you go back and look at the first photos, it was a tree-lined street.”
On the open house, those who made the purchases received engraved plaques to place in front of their designated trees.
South Side Slopes performers Johno Prascak and his wife, Maria DeSimone Prascak, longtime supporters of the historic society’s efforts, attended the event.
Johno exhibited his 32-foot painting “Carnegie Steel – Homestead Works, 1926” and Maria his watercolor from the Schoolhouse Arts and History Center, with prints available for sale to benefit the company.
Also present was State Representative Natalie Mihalek, from the Township of R-Peters, whose district includes part of Bethel Park. Moury acknowledged his efforts to help secure grants on behalf of the Schoolhouse Arts and History Center.
“It’s such an asset to the community. I can’t communicate it enough. And what a small role I can play to help divert some of the available public funds, ”said Mihalek,“ I’m happy to do so. I think it’s just a treasure for Bethel Park.