Rotary Foundation donates to museum fund in Weatherly
VICTOR IZZO/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS In front of the former "dispatch office" and soon to be the site of the Weatherly Museum, Weatherly Rotary Foundation President Terry Younker, second from right, presents a check for $7,000 to Weatherly Mayor Tom Connors for the Weatherly Museum Fund, while looking on are borough manager Harold Pudliner, left, and Weatherly Rotary Foundation treasurer Lee Zink.
The Weatherly Rotary Foundation presented a $7,000 check to the Weatherly Museum Fund at the site of the Weatherly Train Works project where the museum will be located.
On hand for the presentation were the mayor, borough manager, the Train Works committee, Rotary Foundation representatives, and library representatives.
The Weatherly Train Works is the new name that has been given to the building and grounds commonly known as "The Weatherly Steel."
This area had its beginnings in 1867 when the Lehigh Valley Railroad began construction of a large stone building, which was completed in 1869.
In it, under a single roof were four departments: foundry, machine shop, boiler shop and blacksmith shop.
The new building was built for the construction and repair of railroad locomotives.
A total of 78 engines were built and many hundreds of engines were repaired and overhauled in the shops.
The shops and foundry closed in 1899 after almost 50 years of service to the railroad and community.
In 1912, extensive inquiries were made to establish an iron foundry in Weatherly.
Known as the Weatherly Iron and Steel Company, it began work on May 22, 1913.
The Lehigh Valley Railroad gave the new steel company a large order in December of 1917 for the repairing of their coal cars.
In August 1989, the doors of the Weatherly Steel Company were closed and the building remained closed until it was purchased from bankruptcy court by Don Metzer from the Philadelphia area.
From 1999 until 2001, the building was used for the manufacture of truck bodies for dump trucks and trailers but, the building was once again closed and put up for sale.
It was then that a few individuals from the Weatherly Rotary club became interested in the historic value of the site.
On Nov. 23, 2005 the Weatherly Rotary Club, with the help of two club members who stepped forward to secure a loan in their name, along with the community library and number of donors, purchased the property for $200,000.
The property has now been saved and a major part of local history will be preserved.
The Rotary Club formed the Rotary Foundation to oversee and help direct the progress of the project.
This is made up of three Rotarians, three library representatives, two from borough council, one from the historical commission, and two from the community at-large.
It is planned that the property will be refurbished, restored revitalized and reused.
The buildings will house the Weatherly Area Community Library, a museum, business spaces, community areas, and restaurants.
The grounds and the buildings have been cleaned; the roof on the building commonly known as the "dispatch office" has been replaced; and work continues as funds become available.
In September 2010 the Borough of Weatherly purchased the Train Works property from the Weatherly Rotary Club, using grant money that was secured for that purpose.
A Train Works Committee was appointed by the borough council to oversee the development of the property and the borough has continued on with the cleanup effort.
In the fall of 2011, the committee realized that the area did not have a museum and the best place to start one was the Train Works property.
It was decided to make the dispatch office into the museum since that building was in the best shape.
This will be the first step in reuse of the property and it is anticipated that the museum will open by this summer.
"The Weatherly Rotary Foundation, which was formed to do fundraising for this Train Works project, is donating some of the monies raised," Weatherly Rotary Foundation treasurer Lee Zink said. "$7,000 today and that money is going toward the next phase of the project, which is the Weatherly Museum project."
"That is the next step that we're taking in developing this property; hopefully opening the museum in June of this year," he added.
"The museum will be housing a lot of the artifacts of local historian Jack Koehler."
Zink noted that the donation is "seed money," and said they are hoping that members of the community could make additional donations of both time and money.
"The borough is very appreciative of and thankful that the Rotary Foundation gave this generous gift to us," Weatherly Mayor Tom Connors said.
"Its going to go a long way making sure that the museum project becomes a reality," Connors added.
"There is a sponsorship program that starts at $100 and goes up to be a sponsor to the museum or they could also donate their time as far as helping them paint and get the museum ready to open."
He said that anyone interested in helping out can contact the borough office and someone will get back to them.
"We're looking to have a museum that residents can be proud of and enjoy for many years to come," said Connors.