Capturing the Past: John Horgan Jr. Photographs the Waverly Community House

In the early 1920’s, shortly after the Waverly Community House opened, it was featured in a pictorial series by local photographer John Horgan Jr. Mr. Horgan was a pioneer in the field of anthracite photography and focused heavily on capturing scenes from the local region, particularly the Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties. His work also took him to areas throughout the world as he frequently visited locations such as: Alabama, Illinois, Mexico, and New York; nonetheless, it was in 1921 when he found himself at the Waverly Community House. In fact, Horgan’s photographs remain the earliest professional images to be taken of the building; they are also some of the oldest pieces in our archive collection. In a black leather-bound book addressed to the Belin Family, the photographs depict each and every room and space within the facility, most of which had much different uses than they do today. You can find some of Mr. Horgan’s images attached below:

Bowling AlleysBowling Alleys: The Bowling Alley & Billiard Room was housed in the current After-School Room; it provided hours of entertainment for Community House guests, especially on Saturday nights. Right now, you can find our Level 2 campers enjoying their final week of Comm Camp.Canteen- Post OfficePost Office & Canteen: The Post Office & Canteen was situated in the Lobby where our current Canteen remains. When WCH first opened, penny candy and various other refreshments were sold there. Today, the Canteen is still very much in use as many people enjoy eating lunch and socializing in the space.LibraryLibrary: The first library at the Waverly Community House was once where the current upstairs Conference Room is today. The Memorial Library has since moved into the South Wing and the Conference Room is now primarily utilized for staff and board meetings.LobbyLobby: The original Lobby was initially called the Main Hall; it was primarily used for meetings and socializing. Presently, the Lobby still serves as a gathering space and its decor is changed seasonally to enhance the mood of the Comm and to correspond with many events such as the Artisan’s Marketplace and the Greenhouse and Kitchen Show. Wading PoolWading Pool: The Waverly Community House did have a pool in the 1920’s, it was frequently used in the summer and the children remained very fond of it; Wading Pool hours were from 2-4 pm in the Summer to ensure that children would be adequately supervised.

John Horgan Jr. died in 1926, but he is remembered in our region as a prominent and innovative photographer; his images of the Waverly Community House’s earliest years reinforce that reputation and depict a building that has withstood the test of time and continues to enhance the lives of community members with every passing decade.

 

 

An Illustration of Community Planning: The Waverly Community House

In 1925, the United States Department of Agriculture distributed their March Farmers Bulletin titled: “Rural Planning, the Village.” This booklet touches on a number of topics with an emphasis on planning, improving, and sustaining small communities within the United States. The opening passage in the bulletin reads as follows: “This booklet is an Rural Planning Coverattempt to answer questions on village planning by giving instances of what has been done in numerous villages in the United States, as well as to indicate the importance of such planning, and the facility with which valuable results may be attained. It will also show, by actual accomplishment what may be done to improve the average country village.”

Upon reading the preceding passage, it should come as no surprise that the Waverly Community House was not only featured as an exceptional community planning example, but its aerial shot also graced the cover of the publication. Of the beloved building, the Farmer’s Bulletin contains the following excerpt:

A Well-Placed Community Center adds to an Otherwise Beautiful Village, Waverly PA

“The farming village of Waverly, PA already possessed many good planning features, with its curving roads and streets following the physical contour of the country, its inviting road gateways, the clean fringe about the town, attractive farmsteads and gardens, neat public and private buildings on broad lawns, and the wealth of well placed trees. The airplane view on the cover page shows that the community building and public playground have been placed in the center of the village on main street, a position in keeping with their nature. The well appointed building has in its basement bowling alleys, a pool room, a barber shop, and showers. On the first floor are the post office, canteen, reading room, sun parlor, lounge, reception room, assembly hall with its moving picture booth, and women’s showers. On the second floor are the public library including its radio set, and the private apartment of the secretaries. The Community House supports a trained nurse for the village and farming community, a free kindergarten, and art, handiwork, dramatic, sewing, basketry, and playground classes. It is also the headquarters of the town supervisors, the school board, the grange, and the parent teachers association. It is also the center for elections, school commencements, and other exercises.”


The Rural Planning Bulletin was one of the first national publications to recognize the Waverly Community House for all its treasured attributes. As is the case with all of our archival materials, this booklet remains immeasurably significant today as the Comm approaches its centennial anniversary in a few short years. As we advance towards this milestone, we continue to honor our past, by always making it an effort to feature it in our present, and our future.

Nightlife in the Country: the Scrantonian Features the Waverly Community House

In the Spring of 1953, the Scrantonian ran an article in their pictorial section titled: Nightlife in the Country. This piece, dedicated to the Waverly Community House, served to highlight and focus on the various recreational offerings taking place at the Comm on quiet evenings in the Abingtons. The cover features a picturesque photograph of theScrantionian Cover building illuminated by interior lights against a nighttime sky. The opening excerpt reads: “The Waverly Community House is the center of nightlife activities in the Abingtons. After a busy day in the hustle and bustle of the city, residents of the suburban area find a wealth of relaxation in the varied recreational programs offered at the center. When shadows fall and the lights go on in the impressive cupola-topped structure, the Community House becomes a beehive of activity, as photos on the following page will show.”

The aforementioned photograph compilation goes on to show numerous activities taking place during the evening hours at the Comm such as: bowling tournaments, roller skating, Scout activities, and Abington Players productions.

The closing line of the article reads: ” A community project of which the Abingtons can be proud, the center represents what can be done in the way of offering city opportunities to those who live in the country.”

Abington Players

It seems that even six decades after the Scrantonian’s pictorial feature, the Comm remains Comm @ Nightthe center of community life in the Abingtons. Community members may now see the Waverly Community House illuminated once again for its latest event– the Greenhouse & Kitchen Show Launch Party taking place this Friday, April 29th @ 5:30pm. The show
then kicks off Saturday morning at 10; all proceeds benefit the CommKids Interactive Learning Center which will make its debut in the near future!

 

 

 

 

WVIA Our Town: the Abingtons

Last night WVIA aired its first showing of “Our Town: the Abingtons,” a series designed to highlight specific communities, businesses, people & benchmarks in our local region. In the piece on the Abingtons, the Waverly Community House is prominently featured; in the segment on the Comm, the building’s history, staff, current programs, and mission statement are discussed. Other local landmarks & Our Town Graphicorganizations are accentuated as well such as: the Abington Community Library, Manning’s Dairy Farm, & Griffin Pond Animal Shelter. The Comm is honored & graced to be featured in this program; we are deeply thankful for the opportunity brought upon by our local media.

You can find more information, and obtain a copy of the program at: www.wvia.org/television/documentaries/our-town-series/our-town-the-abingtons/