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Lehigh Township Historical Society rejuvenates a landmark

  • ELSA KERSCHNER/TIMES NEWS Chris Satow's daughter knew the person who designed the POW-MIA flag. The museum received a signed copy because of that.
    ELSA KERSCHNER/TIMES NEWS Chris Satow's daughter knew the person who designed the POW-MIA flag. The museum received a signed copy because of that.
Published August 26. 2011 05:02PM

One of the people depicted in a mural across the back of a display about industrial sewing is still alive, said Ken Marsh, a Lehigh Township Historical Society member. Unfortunately her face is hidden by a thermostat. The mural was made on four panels of silk copied from a photograph of women working in a sewing mill in 1951.

Malcolm Gieske made the mural copying a picture donated by the Seilers. The museum has the names of some of them. It forms the background for a textiles exhibit.

The machine in front of the mural is a flat-bed knitting machine from Penn Keystone Knitting Mill in Walnutport.

People interested in the history of Lehigh Township began meeting in 2001 in the municipal building. Among those early members of what became the Lehigh Township Historical Society were: J. Clarke Berner (deceased), Sean and Joanna Billings, Sheldon and Mary Ann Endy, Darrin Heckman, Daniel (deceased) and Marion Hummel, Robert and Nan Mentzell, Peter and Sarah Pagotto, Wilson and Beverly Putt and Kenneth and Nancy Stott.

They knew the building along Route 248 at Indian Trail Park was badly deteriorated, but decided they could repair it and build themselves a museum for the society. They received a 29-year lease from the township for $1 per year.

A man had installed a huge freezer to use in chicken meat sales. That freezer had to be taken apart to remove it. There were some areas needing attention.

"The roof leaked like crazy. Several members of the society fell through the floor," said Ken Marsh.

Chris Satow marks the spot on his leg to show how deeply he fell in the floor. Plastic was stretched on the ceiling leading water to a hole in the floor.

A contractor was called and found half the front wall was rotten. The back wall was leaning outward. The contractor wanted $20,000 to repair the building.

David Costa of Costa Construction said more work had to be done. The porch roof was added and some extras were included. The final cost totaled approximately $50,000. "We decided to get it done the way it should be," said Marsh.

Costa began by taking off the roof and the back and front walls. The side walls were braced but a February storm knocked it down anyway.

"It was rebuilt, not restored," said Satow

The stonework and fireplace were all that remained. Instead of replacing the floor, the area was filled with stone and cemented creating a slab, said Marsh.

Satow said the society members built a bridge behind the building themselves and would like to enlarge the museum. There is a foundation to the right and attached to the building. A bathroom is also on the wish list.

Some of the material was donated. Gerald Pritchard installed the dry wall without charge. Members did the electrical work and the township inspected it. They did the outside siding.

Marsh said artifacts were displayed in the Indianland School before the museum was opened. Now the restored school has become specifically a school museum and all items related to the one and two-room schools that were in the museum are now in the Indianland School. The sum of $30,000 was spent restoring the school.

Bechtel's Pharmacy donated an amount from each prescription. The people getting the prescription could choose among six organizations where they preferred the donation from their purchase to go. Marsh said he is grateful to the people who chose to help them. It was a one-time donation celebrating Bechtel's 50th anniversary.

Satow said his daughter is familiar with the man who designed the POW-MIA flag. The man's son was not a POW but due to sickness he looked the part and his father used him as a model for the flag. It is the centerpiece of a military exhibit.

A pump organ was refurbished before it was donated so it is in good playing condition. The model was designed by Beckwith Organ Company of Chicago to celebrate the 1907 tricentennial of Jamestown's founding in 1607.

Leon Haydt of Danielsville made the most recent donation. It is a grinding stone made to finish stone axes after they had been chipped as far as possible. Marsh looked for three days until he found the information on the Internet.

He was walking in a field and found a round ball. At first he thought it was lead and then realized it was stone. He took it to Mike Gusick, an expert on Indian artifacts in Slatington, who realized it was a game ball, something he recognized when Marsh was still 30 feet away.

A cigar-store Indian that once guarded Jean Kosc's restaurant and gas station in Northampton now welcomes visitors to the museum.

A swimming pool in Indian Trail Park held 250,000 gallons of water. It was drained, scrubbed and refilled every two weeks. The stream water used to fill it was "cold," said Marsh.

The museum is open the second and fourth Sundays until the second week of October from 1 to 4 p.m. There is a collection of history-oriented books for purchase - most by local authors.

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