Community Collaboration: the Scranton State School for the Deaf & the Belin Family

The Scranton State School for the Deaf (PA Oral School for the Deaf) has been a central element of the history of Northeastern Pennsylvania for decades. Interestingly enough,it is also strongly reflective of the Belin family’s philanthropic endeavors and their desire to better the community. In that regard, the Waverly Community House Archives is proud to share that history with our readers in today’s blog post.

The history  of the Scranton State School for the Deaf is traced all the way back to 1882 1889 SSDwhen a man named J.M. Koehler, assisted by a number of city residents, began to instruct a small class of eight deaf children in a room provided by the Scranton Board of Control. In order to extend the range of outreach, Mr. Koehler held a meeting to discuss the possibility of forming a formal facility for deaf instruction and education. Through community interest, attendees voted to create this institution which was initially conceptualized as primarily a “signing school,” to be instructed solely through sign language. Present at this meeting, Mr. Henry Belin Jr., was later appointed as committee chairperson; in preparation for the prospective school’s creation, Mr. Belin traveled to Philadelphia to visit the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. This school, featured a branch taught mainly by oral instruction as opposed to the signing method; the branch of the method was directed by Emma Garrett. After his visit, Mr. Belin was heavily inspired by the oral method of teaching and voiced his desire to emulate the prospective Scranton School after Miss Garrett’s branch. Garrett later visited Scranton in preparation for the school’s opening and aided Mr. Belin and the committee in hiring an instructor and finding a venue. On September 10th, 1883, the Pennsylvania Oral School for the Deaf was created and operated out of the chapel of the German Methodist Church until the facility on Wyoming Avenue was made available in 1886. On October 20th, 1883 the first formal meeting was held and a committee was appointed with the intention of “looking after the school and providing support.” Henry Belin Jr. served on this committee until his death in 1917.

In addition to Henry’s involvement with the school, Gaspard D’Andelot Belin also took great interest in benefiting the community through the Pennsylvania Oral School for the Deaf. Throughout adulthood, D’Andelot held various positions on the Board of Trustees of the institution. Letters in the archive also indicate the respect that many students had for Gaspard due to his generosity and frequent visits to the school to see the children and to bring gifts. An excerpt from a letter written to him by one of the many students reads as follows:

“Thank you very much for the delicious candy you sent us. I was very glad you had sent it because I like candy. We boys and girls hope that Governor Elect Earle will appoint you to the Board of Trustees of our school again. I hope you’ll be president for the rest of your life because you have been so kind and have never forgotten us.”

This heartfelt letter is simply one of many that indicate the impact Gaspard Belin had on the children at the school. It serves as a reminder of how community philanthropy and generosity can transform an entire community and genuinely make the daily lives of individuals and families better each day.

The Pennsylvania Oral School for the Deaf later became known as the Scranton State School for the Deaf; it is most presently called the Scranton School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and is headquartered in South Abington Township.

*Photo Credit: Scranton School for the Deaf, 1889.

Community Member Feature: Gaspard D’Andelot Belin

“Gaspard D’Andelot Belin must be prominently identified with public affairs and movements for the betterment of Scranton and its people. He is dedicated to giving the most unselfish service to the community and many who know him speak of his devotion to his untiring efforts (Scranton’s most Interesting People: Scrantonian, 1927).”

Today’s blog post will be dedicated to the youngest Belin child, Gaspard D’Andelot Belin; born in 1888, Mr. Belin went on to leave his impression on the community through various business and philanthropic endeavors. He is remembered vividly in archival articles stored at the Waverly Community House not only for his involvement with the Comm, but for his intelligence regarding business matters and his dedication to charitable efforts.

Following his childhood, Gaspard D’Andelot Belin attended Yale University, subsequently gdagraduating in 1908. He began his career shortly after, starting as a silk mill worker at the Klots Throwing Mill in Carbondale, PA where he made just six dollars per week. After six short years, Gaspard became manager of the company showing dedication and perseverance in his career. He later joined the E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company of Pennsylvania, where he eventually became President of the Executive Committee. In 1946, Mr. Belin became president of Scranton’s First National Bank, the largest bank in the area. In addition to his business related ventures, Gaspard held many positions in the community as well; some of his other involvements included: serving as President of the Scranton State School for the Deaf, Trustee and Treasurer of the Community Chest of Scranton, and President of the Community Welfare Association. He was also an active board member on the Hahnemann Hospital’s committee. In May of 1931, he attended the dedication ceremony for the Waverly Community House’s two additional wings where he presented the second family donation of land in facilitation of the expansion.


Mr. Belin died in 1954, but is fondly remembered at the Waverly Community House for his determination, and dedication to community welfare. The wing expansion is simply one of the ways Gaspard D’Andelot Belin has given back to the Comm and Waverly.

Building Community through the Arts: The Belin Arts Scholarship

“I am so grateful to the members of the Waverly Community House Board of Trustees, and the Waverly community, who have given so generously their time and effort to bring forth this scholarship in memory of my father (Peter Belin, 1963).”

In the last blog post, we featured Peter Belin Jr. who , through his dedication to the capturecommunity, the arts, and the desire to memorialize his late father, created the Belin Arts Scholarship. This endowment was first awarded in 1964 and has gone on to benefit talented individuals for decades; it has provided awards to men and women from various different backgrounds and regional areas, engaging in a multitude of disciplines such as: painting, music, dance,literature, architecture, printmaking, and more. This year, as we enter into a new era of development for the Belin Arts Scholarship and Foundation, we remain dedicated and committed to continuing the vision of Peter Belin and his amazing gift to the community on behalf of his father.

The Belin Arts Scholarship

On July 6th, 1961, Ferdinand Lammot Belin passed away; Mr. Belin, who was a lifelong lover of the arts, as well as an active community member, remained very passionate about beautification efforts and became involved with many different restoration projects throughout his life. F. Lammot also remained very devoted to the Waverly Community House and its mission. One of the most significant examples of his dedication to the Comm came in 1958 when he facilitated a much appreciated expansion of the auditorium in memory of his beloved wife Frances Jermyn Belin who had passed away in 1945. After his death 16 years later, his son Peter continued the memorial tradition that helped create the Comm so long ago in 1919 by giving back to the community in remembrance of a loved one; this time, the arts remained the focus of commemorative efforts. This gift, initially labeled the F. Lammot Belin Memorial Fund, would go on to evolve into a sustained benefaction, with those awarded spanning in age ranges, geographical locations, and cultural boundaries. The Belin Arts Scholarship, as it was later called, would go on to become one of the most coveted awards for artists to obtain in pursuit of their respective vocations.

In October of 1961, a series of meetings between Peter Belin Jr. and the Waverly Community House Board of Trustees would take place; these gatherings were held in order to determine how best to honor the late F. Lammot. Due to his love of the fine arts, it was later suggested to offer some sort of monetary award to artists through the Belin family and the Waverly Community House. Shortly thereafter, a special committee was formed to primarily focus on this scholarship and its development; the very first F. Lammot Belin Memorial Fund Committee meeting consisted of: Mrs. W.L. Chamberlin, Mrs. William M. Dawson, Mr. F.P. Christian, Mr. F.T. Dolbear, Mr. A.D. Hemelright, and Mr. C.W. Belin (as indicated on committee letter, 1962). In 1962, it was officially determined that a definitive scholarship be offered to artists involved in various disciplines to pursue their crafts under the direction of funds provided through the endowment. Thus, the Belin Arts Scholarship was born; the very first description of this award is described as follows: “Patron of the arts and artists, collector and creator, his love of beauty will benefit all…now, and in the years to come. The F. Lammot Belin Arts Scholarship has been established to honor the memory of a great man and a loving father, by his son, Peter Belin.”

Belin Arts Scholarship: the Early Years

Soon after the scholarship was conceptualized, applicants were encouraged to apply for the 1964 cycle; Dr. John Bourne, Chairman of the Scholarship Administration, Howard Hyde, Chairman of the Selection Committee, and Leigh Woehling, President of the Comm’s Board of Trustees also took their time to search for talented individuals through the region who were also urged to apply. The very first winner of the scholarship, Carol Leah Jones, was a pianist from Scranton, PA who planned on continuing her craft with the hopes of eventually becoming a concert pianist. Miss Jones showed much promise to the committee as she also expressed her desire to continue her education at the Manhattan College of Music upon reception of the award. After Carol Jones, John Hyer was presented with the award in both the 1965 and 1966 cycles; Mr. Hyer was a vocalist and recent graduate of Wilkes College (University) who later went on to attend the Julliard School of Music to receive his Masters Degree in Vocal Pedagogy. Of the Belin Arts Scholarship, Mr. Hyer exclaims: “I couldn’t have gone to Julliard without it! It opened doors for me in such places as Aspen, Colorado and it made things better in my whole career.” From Miss Jones’ first win and Hyer’s dual awards, it became clear that this scholarship was fulfilling its intention– it was bettering the lives of recipients and allowing them to grow and evolve in their careers and lives.

The endowment’s first year concluded with 32 total applicants; this number continued tojs-2 grow exponentially each year as word of the award circulated around amongst those involved in the fine arts discipline. From 1964, until the present, the Belin Arts Scholarship has continued to grow and evolve to benefit the arts and artists everywhere; over the years it had funded the arts of: architecture, drama, music, literature, painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, and more. What began as a memorial vision, has become so much more; as we approach a new developmental period in regards to the scholarship, we look forward to all of the new ways that this gift can continue to touch the lives of talented individuals everywhere.

Quotes from Belin Arts Scholarship Recipients: 

Barbara Harbach (1970), organist: “The Belin Arts Scholarship allowed me to experience art and culture at a high level that would’ve taken a number of years to achieve without it.”

Robert Reese (1971), painter: “Without the Belin Arts Scholarship, I could’ve never realized the professional boundaries I have, it was a blessing of huge proportions. I have told many people over the decades about this wonderful Foundation that came to my aid. It prompted me to paint very large, to make connections, and to be invited to exhibit at various museums and to lecture at many universities.”

Roosevelt Newson (1978), pianist: ” The scholarship served as a professional launch pad for me and opened the door to professional management.”

Barbara Hopkins (1984), flutist: “The Belin Arts Scholarship enabled me to complete my Master’s Degree at the Mannes College of Music without taking any loans. This was an enormous advantage in later years as I was able to spend more time practicing for auditions instead of working a retail job paying loans.”

Karen Blomain (1986), writer: “The scholarship allowed me to accept a fellowship at Columbia University. It opened the wider world of poetry, of writing and publishing, and provided me the opportunity to study with major writers of our time.”

Mark Chuck (2006), sculptor: “Having these means at my disposal has immeasurably aided me with my goals as an artist and I am most grateful for the Belin Family’s generosity. The award has greatly contributed to my local and regional recognition as a ceramic artist.”

The aforementioned quotes are indicative of simply a few expressions of gratitude from those grateful for all that the Belin Arts Scholarship has provided them both developmentally and professionally. For over 50 years, this award has gone on to make its mark regionally and nationally with its wide range of possibilities. This year, we enter into a new phase of development for the Belin Arts Scholarship with its expansion into the F. Lammot Belin Arts Foundation; this extension will also include the much anticipated Belin Film Festival. This event is scheduled to commence on October 14th and is set to last throughout the entire weekend with multiple locations participating in the efforts to bring community awareness and recognition to independent films and filmmakers at a national level. For more information on this exciting and groundbreaking event you can obtain information below. As the Belin Arts Scholarship and Foundation advances, we remain deeply dedicated to continue to provide the community with new opportunities with every passing year.

Belin Film Festival Information:      http://www.flbaf.org/

Community Member Feature: F. Lammot “Peter” Belin Jr.

“My father died in July of 1961, and I am currently engaged in examining the possibility of setting up a scholarship in his memory to foster the development of scholars and artists in the field of fine arts.” (Peter Belin Jr., letter to Trustees, 1963)

The upcoming weeks here at the Waverly Community House will be full of activity as we prepare for the very first Belin Film Festival. To commemorate this exciting endeavor, a series of blog posts detailing the history of the F. Lammot Belin Arts Scholarship, and those who have contributed to its creation and success will be posted. In this introductory entry, we will discuss the gentleman who, through the love for his father, his community, and the arts, was able to conceptualize a gift which has continued to benefit talented individuals for decades. As we enter into this new phase of development for the Belin Arts Scholarship and Foundation, we are honored to have been able to sustain and expand this unique gift through the Waverly Community House, the Board of Trustees, and of course, the Belin Family.

F. Lammot “Peter” Belin Jr. was born on February 3, 1913 in Scranton, Pennsylvania tocapture parents Ferdinand Lammot Belin and his wife, Frances Jermyn Belin. As an adolescent, Peter received his education at schools in Switzerland and the US before graduating from Yale University in 1936. After graduating from Yale, Peter spent some time at the Paris Institute of Political Studies ( L’Ecole des Sciences Politiques) with the ultimate goal of entering into a career in diplomatic services. In 1937, Peter found himself on the ill-fated Hindenburg; he miraculously survived the disaster and went on to enter into 20 year career with the United States Navy. Just two years after the Hindenburg disaster, Peter married Mary Dickson Cootes; the couple became very active in local philanthropic efforts which later resulted in numerous contributions to organizations dedicated to the performing arts and historic preservation. Peter and Mary also became involved with charitable efforts to benefit many children’s hospitals in their local region as well. In 1960, Peter retired from the US Navy as Captain and correspondingly became very focused on continuing to serve the region in a multitude of ways over the next two decades. Consequently, after his father’s death in 1961, Peter became primarily dedicated to creating a gift to benefit the community in his memory. With the help of the very dedicated Board of Trustees at the Waverly Community House, the F. Lammot Belin Arts Scholarship was established; the first winner of the fund, Carol Leah Jones, was named in 1964 and the tradition has continued ever since.

Peter Belin died on February 23, 1982; however, he has left behind a legacy in the form of a memorial gift which has continued to benefit and encourage those with a passion for the fine arts to develop their talents in his father’s memory. As we enter into new territory within the realm of everlasting possibility for this scholarship, Peter Belin’s generosity and dedication remains at the forefront of our goals at the Waverly Community House.

The Belin Arts Scholarship, its mission, and its winners will be discussed in the next blog post, stay tuned!

Community Member Feature: Ferdinand Lammot Belin

“Wherever F. Lammot Belin lived, he created beauty. How fortunate we are that the hand, mind, and heart of Lammot touched our community. Patron of arts and artists, collector and creator, his love of beauty will be a benefit and inspiration to all now, and in the years to come.” (Board of Trustees, 1961)

Today’s Community Member Feature will highlight Henry Jr. and Margaretta Belin’s seventh born child, Ferdinand Lammot Belin. F. Lammot, as he is so often referred to, has left behind a legacy which reflects upon his love of art, beauty, and community engagement. His memory and spirit lives on at the Waverly Community House in the form of many art programs and activities, and of course through the beloved Belin Arts Scholarship, which was created by his son Peter in order to memorialize his father’s everlasting dedication to both the fine arts, and the community he loved. The F. Lammot Belin Arts Scholarship has continued to benefit greatly talented individuals for over five decades and has become one of the most treasured endowments administered by the Waverly Community House.

Born in Scranton on March 15th, 1881, F. Lammot followed in the footsteps of his older FLB 1brother Paul by attending Yale University as a young adult; he graduated in 1901 with a P.H.D and returned home to Northeastern Pennsylvania to join his family in the pursuit of many business and philanthropic related endeavors. Businesses and organizations F. Lammot Belin became involved with included: the Scranton Lace Company, the E. I. DuPont de Nemours Company, Traders National Bank, and Wyoming Shovel Works, to name a few; he was also a member of Scranton’s City Council. In 1912, Lammot married Frances Jermyn Belin, who later went on to fund the salary of the Waverly Community House nurse during the organization’s early years. The couple also became involved with the development of the first Abington Heights High School, which began undergoing construction in 1926. The five-acre plot on Glenburn Road was donated by Mr. and Mrs. F. Lammot Belin and construction began that summer with architect George M. D. Lewis overseeing the development. The new building was tremendously advanced for the time period– a fire proof, brick structure, with well-lit, heated classrooms for the students to enjoy. This school lasted until the mid-twentieth century and was a significant undertaking, as well as a greatly appreciated asset to the students in attendance. A lifelong lover of art, F. Lammot Belin was also a founding Trustee and Vice President of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

In addition to the aforementioned ventures of Mr. F. Lammot Belin, he also made a career for himself as a Foreign Service Officer; as an international diplomat, F. Lammot’s work often took him abroad where he held diplomatic posts. Places such as Istanbul and Peking were temporarily considered home for him and his family as he continued on this professional path. Of his travels, F. Lammot still maintained that, “Waverly was the loveliest place on earth,” and that, “it would always be considered home.” His love for his beloved community was reflected in various ways, and still continues to touch the lives of those who enjoy the Waverly Community House and all its offerings today.


The F. Lammot Belin Arts Scholarship will be featured in detail in another upcoming blog post, but for now you can read all about it by visiting the following websites below:

belinarts.org – For information related to the scholarship.

flbaf.org – For information regarding the upcoming Belin Film Festival.

Community Member Feature: Paul Beck Belin

“We belong to the order of men and women who know that the ills, blights, limitations, disabilities, and curses from which human society suffers, can be greatly abated–and many of them entirely eliminated. Pessimism cannot paralyze our faith; petty and vicious factors cannot dim our optimism.” (Paul Belin, Annual Meeting 1927)

Paul Beck Belin, son of Henry Jr. and Margaretta, will be the focus of today’s Community PBMember Feature. As the couple’s oldest son, Paul emulated his parents in many ways, especially as it pertains to both business and philanthropy. Paul was involved in various community related activities and organizations. He also played a pivotal role in the construction of the Waverly Community House to which we are eternally grateful. Nonetheless, the legacy that Paul has left is one that is entirely his own; it is one of promise, hope, and optimism; these sentiments all live on through the Comm’s various programs and activities.

Paul Belin was born on July 26th, 1875; as a young adult, he attended both Yale University and Columbia University before embarking on a brief career in architecture. In fact, it was his knowledge on the subject, as well as his rapport with George M. D. Lewis that influenced family members to contract Lewis to facilitate work on the Comm. However, much like his father, Paul was more interested in business and in 1898, he began his career at the Scranton Lace Company as Treasurer and General Manager of the facility. He remained in that position until 1918 when he then took over as company President.

During his time at Scranton Lace, Paul quickly became known among employees as a generous and kind employer; this was much attributed to his interest in and concern for the general welfare of his staff. One of the most revered gestures associated with Mr. Belin’s benevolence came during an employee dinner in October of 1928; at a reception hall in Green Ridge, the company President personally distributed cash and securities amounting to more than a half million dollars to approximately 200+ valued staff members. This event became well known throughout the area and was significantly covered in all local media outlets; Mr. Belin’s actions that night became historic in nature and his staff members remained in awe of this kind deed. In addition to financially rewarding his employees, Paul Belin took great interest in the mental and physical well being of men and women working at the company. In the same manner as his father, Paul continued the tradition of workplace recreation with the implementation of leisure spaces throughout the plant; in these designated rooms, staff members enjoyed various activities such as; dancing, gymnastics, and socializing. He also opened up the pool at his estate, “Lenni” several days a week throughout the summer months for employee swimming, this idea was virtually unheard of at the time and added to his reputation as a generous innovator in the industry. These acts of kindness paid off for Mr. Belin in the form of employee loyalty; during his time at the plant, one of which transpired during the height of workplace strikes in America, the Scranton Lace Company remained one of few facilities in the area to never have a walkout. Under his leadership, the company prospered, and became known throughout the United States as a leading industrial enterprise.Scr Lace Bowling


In addition to his involvement with the Scranton Lace Company, it goes without saying that Paul Belin was a key contributor in the creation of the Waverly Community House. Along with his mother and siblings, Paul remained dedicated to preserving and memorializing his father’s memory in the form of the recreational facility. In fact, many of the early programs were heavily influenced by Mr. Belin and he continued to be very involved with the Comm until his untimely death in 1930. A quote in his Scranton Republican obituary discusses Mr. Belin’s legacy as follows:

“There is profound reason for mourning the loss of this man of talent, outstanding personal character and personal growth; this man who year after year placed on the altar of public use and quiet charity so large a share of the success won by himself, this man who combined energy of action with deep thoughtfulness. He did his duty to all, and he measured his duty by standards so generous that those in the sorrow of bereavement may find consolation in the honor in which his memory will be held.”

Paul Belin’s memory lives on at the Comm not only in the form of our programs and activities, but also in the spirit of community and giving, which is first and foremost in our purpose.

Community Member Feature: Margaretta Lammot Belin

“The Waverly Community House is a magnificent gift to Waverly by Mrs. Henry Belin Jr. in memory of her husband who passed to rest on Christmas Day, 1917. The monument is worthy of Mrs. Belin, whose annual benefaction for years in furnishing the finances for the community picnic at Lake Winola during the summer season, had already created an affection for her by the people of Abington. (Historic Abington, Alfred Twining 1920)

Margaretta Lammot Belin, wife of Henry Belin Jr., holds a special place in the history of the Waverly Community House. As the opening quote from historian Alfred Twining would suggest, Mrs. Belin was affectionately beloved by community members in the Abington area due to her generosity and kind spirit. Her philanthropic nature prompted her to establish the Waverly Community House, not only to memorialize her late husband, but to also bestow a gift to the community she cherished immeasurably. This gift continues to benefit the public today in a multitude of ways through camps, classes, events, and various other programs designed to engage local residents.

Margaretta Elizabeth Lammot was born in Delaware in 1846 to Ferdinand Fairfax Lammot and Marietta Allen. She married Henry Belin Jr. in 1868 in Wilmington, Delaware; the couple then relocated to the Scranton area in 1869 where Henry acquired the directorial position at the E.I. DuPont de Nemours facility. It was in the Scranton area where Margaretta became involved with another organization that deserves historical recognition– the Hahnemann Hospital. Before her involvement in the establishment of the Waverly Community House, Margaretta, along with a group of 14 other women were behind the creation of the Scranton based hospital. In 1897, the medical center was Margaretta Belin Portrait 2founded, and in 1905, it officially began operating out of a rented building in the city. In the hospital’s early years, Mrs. Belin donated a large sum of money towards its creation; she also funded and created the organization’s home for the school of nurses. Hahnemann later evolved into the Community Medical Center, which is now the Geisinger Hospital; it remains the city’s leading medical care facility today. This is only one of Mrs. Belin’s early philanthropic endeavors for which she will forever remain notable; a quote from her obituary in the Scranton Times described her accomplishments as follows: “Her acts of kindness give expression in manifold ways of her nature, and have endeared Mrs. Belin to a legion of friends. The liberality of her contributions in aid of numerous enterprises have occasioned the highest praise from all benefiting, and the people at large who have learned to regard Mrs. Belin as a woman of noble character.”


Margaretta Belin’s spirit lives on through various establishments in the local area; she will especially remain significant at the Waverly Community House due to her enormous contribution of not only a memorial building, but a community vision that has continued to thrive for nearly a century.

 

Continuing Tradition: F. Lammot Belin’s Memorial Gift

In 1958, yet another memorial gift was bestowed upon the Waverly Community House; in the same manner as the other projects,this contribution came in the form of an additional commemorative extension to the building. In 1945, after the death of his wife Frances Jermyn, Belin son F. Lammot began plans for an auditorium expansion in her memory. Frances Jermyn Belin was born in Scranton in 1888 and spent many of her younger years in Waverly before she married F. Lammot and settled down in the area permanently; she also had significance during the Comm’s early developmental years by providing funds for the salary of the Community House Nurse.

Frances Jermyn Belin

In preparation for the auditorium addition, a special Building Committee was formed by the Board of Trustees; this committee was appointed to oversee the endeavor. Also, in the same manner as the other building projects, architect George M.D. Lewis was once again retained to facilitate the extension. This time, Lewis collaborated with R.D. Richardson Construction Company in the process.

Additions and improvements to the building during this undertaking included: new lighting and ventilation systems in the combination gymnasium/theater, a larger stage, extended seating capacity, 4 bowling alleys containing automatic equipment, and a new heating plant for the entire building. Of the new space, and its progress, Trustee President James Vipond stated: ” If you have not observed the additions progress over time, just ask your kids. They have been around here mostly everyday checking to see that the correct amount of sand and water is going into the mortar.” Beech St. Elev

The Frances Jermyn Belin memorial extension dedication ceremony took place on September 28th, 1958 and was covered by all media outlets. At the event, the audience sang “America the Beautiful,” and heard G D’Andelot Belin Jr. speak about the building and its history. The opening quote from the dedication booklet reads: “Today, September 28th, 1958 marks the official opening of the new auditorium wing of the Waverly Community House. The new building is given in memory of Frances Jermyn Belin, wife of Ferdinand Lammot Belin. We honor them both on this occasion. Friends of the Waverly Community House wish to thank Mr. Belin for this beautiful building, a loving tribute to his wife.”

Today, the Frances Jermyn addition is used quite famously for exterior Comm Camp FJB Dedication Stone (2)photographs. The enlarged auditorium also provides ample space for additional seating, various vendor related events, and theatrical performances. Ultimately, as with all of the Comm’s other extensions, what once originated as a memorial gift has continued to provide community members with additional space needed to partake in more of their beloved programs and activities.

 

The Giving Continues: The Waverly Community House’s Two Wings

“Eighty years ago when we started the Waverly Community House, many people thought and told us we were dreamers. We admit we are dreamers, we dream with our eyes wide open and every faculty alert.” (Paul Belin, Annual Meeting, 1927)

In 1927, after a brief illness, Belin family matriarch Margaretta Belin passed away; naturally, the remaining Belin children wished to commemorate their beloved mother in the same manner as they did with their father Henry Belin Jr. Therefore, it was only fitting that the Waverly Community House, and its expansion, became the focus of commemorative effort and attention. It was also around this time that the WCH began to see an increase in community program interest, especially regarding the kindergarten classes; however, during this period, the classes did not have a room to call their own and frequently utilized whatever space was available in the building. It did not take long for the Belin children to suggest a solution to this problem, while also demonstrating the notion to memorialize their mother; the building was to be expanded with the addition of two wings on each side of the original structure. As with the original construction, architect George MD. Lewis was recommissioned to work on the expansion.

WCH Original Building

Waverly Community House Original Building, 1924

Unfortunately, the Belin family was dealt another tragedy when Paul Belin passed away unexpectedly following an operation in 1930; he was sadly never able to see the finished extension of the Waverly Community House. However, he was remembered and honored at the dedication ceremony in 1931 when the finished product was displayed for community members. Text from the Scranton Times article covering the event reads as follows: “Hundreds of people from the little village of Waverly will be present in the auditorium of the enlarged Waverly Community House, which will be formerly presented to them with impressive ceremonies this afternoon [May 9th, 1931], at 3:00. The two new wings were built as a memorial to Mrs. Belin by: Mrs. Pierre du Pont [Wilmington, DE], F. Lammot Belin, G D’Andelot Belin, Mrs. Paul Belin, Mrs. N. G. Robertson, and the late Charles Belin who died recently in Arizona. The original building was built in 1920 by Mrs. Belin in memory of her husband. The building, including its original structure, was designed by George MD. Lewis, of the firm Davis and Lewis [Scranton Times, May 9, 1931].

And so, the tradition of commemorating loved ones through substantial community gifts continued after Margaretta’s death. After construction, the wings enabled community members to have more space to engage in beloved programs and the kindergarten classes finally had a room to call their own. Presently, the two additional wings accentuate and add to the Waverly Community House today  and are are fully utilized as space for crucial programs. The North Wing features rooms used for: Upstairs Thrift, the Visitor’s Center, Story time, Tots and Toddlers music classes, yoga, and much more.

Enlarged WCH 1931

Meanwhile, the South Wing contains: the Library, Constance Reynolds Belin Room, and the Archive. The structure now fulfills the entire vision put forth decades ago by the Belin family and continues to give to the community each and every day.

Community Member Feature: Henry Belin Jr.

Once again, we are thrilled to announce that the Scranton Times has chosen to report on yet another individual who remains near and dear to our hearts, Mr.Henry Belin Jr. Like George M.D. Lewis, Mr. Belin is featured as part of the series: 150 People who made Scranton Great; the article discusses his involvement with various businesses & organizations in the Scranton area. Mr. Belin was a dedicated businessman & philanthropist in the local community, and as previously disclosed, the inspiration behind the Waverly Community House.

Henry Belin Jr. was born September 23, 1843 at West Point, NY where his father, Henry Belin Sr. had been stationed at the US Military Academy. As a young adult, Henry Jr. attended Yale University, from which he graduated in 1863; after commencement, Henry began his career with the E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company where he later became president.

 

Capture

In 1870, Henry relocated his family to Scranton where he continued to work for the DuPont Company. He remained president of the company until his death in 1917.

In addition to his involvement with the powder manufacturing facility, Mr. Belin was affiliated with a number of other businesses and organizations such as: the Scranton State School for the Deaf, First National Bank, the Cherry River Paper Company, & the Scranton Lace Company, to name a few. In fact, his role at the Scranton Lace Company later went on to influence the Comm’s emphasis on recreation. While serving as director of the aforementioned company, Henry Belin placed great value on the notion of providing his employees with leisurely activities to engage in outside of the workplace; such activities included: bowling, baseball, & basketball. In providing these kinds of opportunities, Mr. Belin believed that his staff would have a healthier, happier mindset, making them more productive within their respected professions at the company. This concept was quite effective & innovative, especially considering the time period; consequently, Henry Belin was well respected & highly regarded by his employees.

Henry Belin Jr. continued to serve his community in some capacity until his death on Christmas Day in 1917. After his passing, his family later went on to honor his commitment to recreation & philanthropy by creating the Waverly Community House. Mr. Belin remains remembered & honored here at the Comm through our various programs & events held for the public. Through dedication to civic spirit & engagement, the recreational gift continues to give back to the community that meant so much to Mr. Belin & his family.

The Scranton Times article on Henry Belin Jr. can be found here: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/150-people-who-made-scranton-great-henry-belin-jr-1.2016532