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03/10/2020

24 New State Historical Markers Approved

Harrisburg, PA – Fighter's Heaven, the training camp of heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali; Gloria Casarez, a Latinx activist for LGBTQ civil rights; Parker's Landing petroglyphs, a series of Native American rock engravings at one of the most significant archaeological sites in Pennsylvania; and Sylvania Electric Products, a company that produced proximity fuzes for artillery shells that were instrumental in Allied success during World War II are among the subjects of the 24 new Pennsylvania Historical Markers approved by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC).

The new markers, selected from 48 applications, will be added to the nearly 2,300 familiar blue-with-gold-lettering signs along roads and streets throughout Pennsylvania.

Since 1946 PHMC's historical markers have chronicled the people, places and events that have affected the lives of Pennsylvanians over the centuries. The signs feature subjects such as Native Americans and early settlers, government and politics, athletes, entertainers, artists, struggles for freedom and equality, factories and businesses, and a multitude of other noteworthy topics.

Nominations for historical markers may be submitted by any individual or organization and are evaluated by a panel of independent experts from throughout the state and approved by the agency's commissioners.

More information on the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program, including application information, is available online at www.PAHistoricalMarkers.com.

The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission is the official history agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Learn more by visiting PHMC online or following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.

 

Media Contact: Howard Pollman, 717-705-8639

The following is a list of the newly approved Pennsylvania Historical Markers with the name of the marker, location and a brief description:

Berwyn School Fight, Berwyn, Chester County  

From March 1932 until April 1934 African American families in Berwyn were embroiled in a segregation case regarding the education of black students. Tredyffrin and Easttown school districts had been integrated in keeping with the Public School Act of 1834. In 1932 those districts chose to segregate public elementary schools. Black families, supported by the NAACP and prominent black leaders, boycotted the schools and engaged in a two-year legal battle resulting in the reintegration of schools. The Mt. Zion AME Church was the central meeting place in this effort.

 

Black Student Walkouts, Philadelphia      

In November 1967 thousands of middle school and high school students organized a citywide student walkout, demanding a culturally responsive education. This was the start of youth organizing movements fighting for educational justice. The walkouts resulted in major changes to curriculum, hiring, and civic engagement in one of the nation's largest school districts, which in 2005 became the first to mandate an African American history course as a requirement for graduation.

 

Charles "Chuck" Cooper (1926-1984), Pittsburgh, Allegheny County

In 1950 Cooper was the first African American basketball player drafted by the NBA, paving the way for integration in the league. Cooper was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019. He played basketball at Westinghouse High School, was an All-American at Duquesne University following two years of military service in World War II, and played for seven seasons in the NBA.

 

Elwyn Institute, Media, Delaware County 

Elwyn was a leader in the movement to educate and train the mentally disabled, the first institution of its kind in Pennsylvania and one of the oldest in the nation. It had a model farm program and was pioneering in providing dental services. Founded in 1852 and named for a member of the first board of directors, Alfred Elwyn, the institution has adapted to changing needs and continues to serve those with intellectual disabilities.

 

Escape of Ona Judge, Philadelphia

Judge, an enslaved woman owned by George Washington and in service to Martha Washington, escaped from the President's House in Philadelphia in 1796. She was able to make her way to New Hampshire with the assistance of the black and abolitionist communities. Washington made attempts to retrieve Judge for the rest of his life, despite federal officials' refusal to help recapture her.

 

Fighter's Heaven, Orwigsburg, Schuylkill County          

In 1972 Muhammad Ali established this training camp, where he prepared for some the biggest fights of his career, notably Rumble in the Jungle and Thrilla in Manila. Future heavyweight champions Larry Holmes, Tim Witherspoon and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad began their careers sparring there with Ali. He hosted many celebrities at Fighter's Heaven, including Andy Warhol, Diana Ross and Tom Jones, and gave his famous interview with Dick Cavett there.

Frances Dorrance (1877-1973), Pittsburgh, Allegheny County 

One of Pennsylvania's most influential archaeologists, Dorrance laid a foundation for the modern understanding of the archaeological heritage of the commonwealth. She founded the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeologists and in the 1920s initiated what would become the Pennsylvania Archaeological Site Survey, which currently contains records for more than 23,500 sites.

George A. Romero (1940-2017), Pittsburgh, Allegheny County

Legendary horror film director Romero chose to establish his production studio in Pittsburgh. His classic Night of the Living Dead (1968) was the first nationally successful feature film from Pittsburgh. The once controversial movie has been broadly recognized as a landmark in both the horror genre and independent filmmaking. Following its success, Romero kept his studio in Pittsburgh, rather than relocating to Hollywood, producing a dozen more feature films and mentoring filmmakers of the region.

George Croghan (1718-1782), Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County   

An emigrant from Ireland in the mid-18th century, Croghan established one of the largest and most effective trade networks in America. He started a trading business in Cumberland County but soon became an Indian agent for the British in Ohio Country. His mastery of Indian relations allowed him to expand trade across the lower half of Pennsylvania and into Ohio. He also was able to negotiate with the Indians during the French and Indian War and the years leading up to the American Revolution.

 

Gloria Casarez (1971-2014), Philadelphia

A Latinx champion for civil rights and LGBTQ activism, Casarez served as Philadelphia's first director of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender affairs. Her efforts established Philadelphia as the leader of LGBTQ rights protections in the nation. Her contributions span HIV/AIDS initiatives, transgender health programs, and affordable housing. This will be the first PHMC marker for a Hispanic American.

 

Holbert Racing, Warrington Twp., Bucks County

Started in 1951 by Bob Holbert and continued with his son Al, this internationally successful racing business ran until 1988. Specializing in racing Porsches, the father and son team amassed 10 race series wins between them and numerous victories in the 24 Hours of Lemans. Bob Holbert is considered a legend of American racing and Al Holbert is in both the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

 

Hysong v. Gallitzin School District, Gallitzin, Cambria County 

This 1894 court case allowed religious clothing, specifically that of nuns, to be worn in public schools. In 1895 the Pennsylvania legislature passed the Garb Law forbidding religious clothing in public schools, thereby reversing the ruling. Pennsylvania was the first to pass such a law, and many other states followed its lead. Pennsylvania remains the only state with a Garb Law as every other state has since rescinded theirs. Future Pennsylvania legislative and judicial challenges are expected.

 

Laurel Hill State Park, Somerset, Somerset County

A Recreational Demonstration Area (RDA), Laurel Hill was constructed between 1935 and 1941 by Civilian Conservation Corps workers as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration. Pennsylvania had the most RDAs in the country, with five. Laurel Hill is the most intact example, retaining all of the original area types. It remains in use today and conveys the historical and architectural significance of this national program.

 

Lemoyne Archaeological Site, Lemoyne, Cumberland County 

An archaeological project in 2005 uncovered a previously unknown Susquehannock Indian settlement in Lemoyne. The dating of this site to about 1610-24 helped to better define the dates of two other important and related Susquehannock sites in Lancaster County: Washington Boro and Schultz. The artifacts uncovered also led to additional understanding of early interactions between Native American groups and Europeans in the Mid-Atlantic region.

 

Liberty Bell, Allentown, Lehigh County

Fearing destruction by the British during a fateful point in the American Revolution, the Continental Congress voted to remove all the bells from Philadelphia. Just before the British began their occupation of the city in 1777, the Liberty Bell was transported clandestinely from Independence Hall to Northamptontown (Allentown today) and hidden in Zion German Reformed Church.

 

Nile Swim Club, Yeadon, Delaware County

Nile was one of the earliest African American owned and operated swim clubs in the U.S. The story of its establishment is an important example of a marginalized group successfully working for equality. In the mid-20th century, Yeadon was a segregated community, but in 1957, three black men applied for membership in the newly opened Yeadon Swim Club. When they were denied, the black community worked together to raise the money to buy land and build a swimming club of their own.

Palestra, Philadelphia

Built at the University of Pennsylvania in 1927, this gymnasium is considered one of the premier basketball venues in the nation because of its long association with college basketball. It hosted the annual Philadelphia Big 5 college matchups for many years as well as tournaments nearly as prestigious as the national championships. The venue boasts superior sight lines and the design served as a model for basketball arenas across the nation.

 

Parker's Landing Petroglyphs, Parker, Clarion County 

In the Allegheny River Watershed, Native American engravings called petroglyphs remain on rocks and are only visible during the summer dry months. Archaeological investigations have confirmed that the creators of these engravings were prehistoric inhabitants of the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau. This is one of the most significant petroglyph sites in Pennsylvania.

 

Pauline Hanauer Rosenberg (1863-1940), Pittsburgh, Allegheny County

In 1893 Rosenberg was one of the founders of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) during the World's Columbian Exposition. Although based in Pittsburgh, she was responsible for organizing NCJW chapters in several other Pennsylvania cities, including Philadelphia, as well as in Ohio and Washington, DC. She also served as president of the national organization whose work related to immigration assistance, social reform, and prevention of human trafficking was revolutionary.

 

Philadelphia Gay News, Philadelphia       

First published in 1976, this early newspaper of the LGBTQ community was an outlet for intracommunication when few others were available. It served as a community-building vehicle at a time when the LGBTQ rights movement was still forming. At the outbreak of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, it became a lifesaving source for a community in need. It is now the most-awarded LGBTQ publication in the nation.

 

Plastic Club, Philadelphia   

This art club was founded by a group of women artists in 1897 after they were denied membership in the Philadelphia Sketch Club, which was all male. It remains the oldest of its kind in the U.S. Some of the leading artists of the day were members, including Violet Oakley, Cecelia Beaux and Emily Sartain. The club promoted the women's professionalism and artistic abilities. It provided an outlet for exhibition, which led to recognition and important commissions for its members.

Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, Greensburg, Westmoreland County   

Established in 1870, this community of Catholic nuns was the last of the order founded by Elizabeth Ann Seton in Maryland in 1809. In addition to establishing Seton Hill University in 1918, the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill serves schools, institutes, hospitals, parishes and social service agencies throughout the U.S., Ecuador and South Korea.

 

Sylvania Electric Products, Emporium, Cameron County         

Sylvania was formed in 1924 to make radio tubes for the new vacuum tube radio receiver industry. During World War II, radio tubes were essential for field communications, radars, submarine detectors and weather balloons. The company received a contract to produce proximity fuzes for artillery shells, eventually supplying 400 million to the war effort. Women made up the majority of the workforce as their smaller hands allowed them to perform the detailed work required. Sylvania received the Army/Navy Award for Excellence in the production of war materials.

 

William Lightfoot Price (1861-1916), Rose Valley, Delaware County

Architect Price designed nationally renowned buildings throughout the country and founded Arts and Crafts communities in Pennsylvania and Delaware. He produced Gilded Age mansions, landmark hotels, iconic railroad stations, and utopian communities. His firm of Price & McLanahan pioneered reinforced concrete buildings. The town of Rose Valley, Pennsylvania, is perhaps his most significant legacy.

 

 

 

 

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