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Lehighton history buffs given free space in borough annex

Published January 30. 2014 01:35PM

Over a decade ago, a group called the Lehighton Area Heritage Alliance formed.

It has been in a dormant state, but that is about to change.

This week, Lehighton Borough Council gave the alliance permission to use a room in the Borough Annex - rent free - for its exhibits and database.

The request for the room was made by Dr. Harrison N. Hoppes of Lehighton, a founder of the alliance who has written numerous books dealing with history, including one entitled "Behind the Blue Mountain: Tales from Upper Northampton County, PA During the 18th Century."

Hoppes was involved in Lehighton's 250th anniversary of the Gnadenhutten Massacre in 2005 and was the guest speaker at the anniversary program.

Council Vice President Scott Rehrig said to Hoppes, in support of the request, "I suggest we take advantage of your leadership and give you the space."

Lehighton doesn't have a historical society. Hoppes said the Historical Alliance doesn't have non-profit status but it needs to have a location before that can occur.

He said, "I am willing to devote my time and effort to the revitalization of LAHA, as a number of Lehighton-area historians know."

The group's constitution and by-laws were never adopted, he said, because a board of directors was never elected.

He told the council, "I firmly believe that LAHA should be a self-sustaining activity oriented not only to preserving the past but also to promoting present and future events of a community nature. In addition to acquiring and displaying a collection of museum-quality exhibits, this will involve the construction and maintenance of a large on-line database containing historical and community-related data."

He said he has the support of Lehighton historian Ron Rabenold and Jim Thorpe historian John Drury.

Hoppes said after the meeting that he was obviously pleased with the decision.

"There are a lot of exhibits stored in Lehighton," he said. "There are a lot more from donors willing to give them up for public display."

"It would be a real shame if all the items of heritage from the community were lost to public view," he told the council.

The LAHA not only would exhibit these collections but store the information on historical relics in a searchable database.

Hoppes is the son of the late Charles Hoppes, a long time teacher in the Lehighton Area School District.

He is a 1953 graduate of Lehighton High School, received a BS in chemical engineering from Penn State University, earned his Master's from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and got a PhD in business administration from American University.

He said, "In March 2013, I returned to Lehighton to spend my retirement years after completing a successful research and business career in Montgomery County, Md."

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