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Area residents turn out for Lansford Historical Society holiday program

Published December 22. 2009 05:00PM

Despite the aftermath of Saturday's snowstorm which blanketed the area, approximately 50 people braved the weather and parking conditions to take part in Sunday's 'Victorian Christmas In Lansford' holiday program and open house at the new Lansford Historical Society Museum.

The program and museum were held on the second floor of the historical society's building on East Bertsch Street which also houses the Panther Valley Public Library on the first floor. The building was formerly home to the Lansford Methodist Church.

Upon entering the building, attendees were welcomed on the outside by rows of luminaries which illuminated the sidewalk area.

Attendees were greeted inside by Francis Lazarro, and Zack Oliveria who handed out programs and candles to everyone attending. The candle holders, luminaries and welcome sign were hand made by Renie Novak.

The second floor of the building which houses Lansford's new local history museum was decked out in grand Victorian holiday style. Participants were invited to step back in time and celebrate Christmas in Lansford as it was during the Victorian period in the late 1800s. Green garlands and red bows were draped from the high ceilings and also adorned every doorway, window sill and the alter area of the sanctuary. Kerosene lamps and candles softly illuminated the pressed tin walls and ceiling of the building during the service and program.

At the beginning of the program, everyone was welcomed by Dale Freudenberger of the Lansford Historical Society who relayed the history of the former church and talked about the society's new museum project. Freudenberger said "this is YOUR community museum for the Lansford area, and we hope that you will donate photographs, records or historical artifacts to the museum so that they man serve to educate others and be preserved for future generations." Chris Opresko, resident organist at the museum, relayed the history of the old pipe organ that would provide most of the music for the evening and also spoke about plans for further restoration of the organ in the future.

The old time church service was led by Reverends John and Marjorie Keiter of Lansford who wore traditional attire from the Victorian period. An old time candle chandelier hung overhead and provided soft lighting for the pastors to lead the service by. They were accompanied by Opresko on the vintage pipe organ. The program including a sing-along of traditional Christmas Carols. A number of re-enactors from the Eckley Players group attended dressed in the latest fashions from the Victorian era.

At the conclusion of the service, Bill Harleman of the Historical Society thanked everyone for coming and also gave tribute to Steve and Germaine Brunda for keeping the society going all these years and dreaming of one day having a local history museum in Lansford. "Today, that dream has come true," said Harleman. Steve Brunda is the President of the historical society and his wife Germaine is the Secretary. Harleman then invited everyone to stay for refreshment and to see the historical exhibits created so far in the new museum.

Among those who attended were representatives of Lansford Alive, No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum, Summit Hill Historical Society and Tamaqua Historical Society.

Germaine Brunda and Louise Soloman served refreshments including holiday punch, hot chocolate and a wide variety of homemade baked goods and candies fit for a king.

Bill Harleman and Dale Freudenberger showed off the many new exhibits created at the museum and items that have been donated so far. Among the many displays and exhibits were furnishings donated from the former English Congregational Church, artifacts and stained glass windows salvaged from the former St. Anns Convent, the old pump organ from the Welsh Congregational Church, Slovak ethnic and cultural items from Louise Soloman, ethnic bibles, and photos, coal stove and whiskey jug, from the Brundas, framed photographs of scenes around Lansford from various donors, artwork from Francis Lazarro, office items and draperies from the Borough and American Fire Co. Bill Harleman donated many, many artifacts including old bottles from Lansford a large display on former businesses, Bob Tarleton's first cable television artifacts, local business signs, fire company, police dept., fire company, police dept. coal mining, LC&N Co., church items, school items and much more. Dale Freudenberger donated a variety of photos, yearbooks, postcards pannants and maps.

Anyone wishing to donate any items to the museum or wanting to setup a tour of the museum should contact Germaine Brunda at (570) 805-4126, Bill Harleman at (570) 617-4683 or Dale Freudenberger at (610) 597-6722.

Work on the development of the new museum and more exhibits will continue after the new year.

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