End of Summer Celebration: Labor Day at the Waverly Community House

In the 1930’s and 40’s, the Waverly Community House– still in its early years of development, held annual events in observance of Labor Day. Considered the unofficial end of summer by many, Labor Day was celebrated at the Comm with many recreational activities designed to appeal to all age groups. On a letter sent out to all community members dated August 15th, 1933, physical director of the Comm Wallace Rubright writes: “With the desire to make Labor Day a pleasant holiday for our townspeople, we have roughly outlined a plan which we believe would make for much fun and enjoyment of those participating. Events will start at 9:00 am. Take particular notice of the dancing for the evening, we are arranging to have good music and light refreshments. Admission will be 25 cents for the ladies and 50 cents for the gentlemen. We ask for your kindly support in checking the events you wish to enter and returning this form. Any suggestions or requests will be appreciated sincerely.” The events list enclosed contains an outline of the above mentioned events and activities which began at the Comm at 9 am. Some of the functions included: tennis, baseball, potato sack races, mushball, nail driving, a picnic, and card party; the night then commenced with a Labor Day Dance held on the Community House lawn. Labor Day 1936

The Waverly Community House has remained at the center of holiday celebrations for decades. As we close out the summer of 2017, the Comm is preparing for many more fun filled activities and events to finish off the year including the annual Halloween party and Northeast Pennsylvania Film Festival. Stay tuned for all updates regarding these two events and many more via the Comm’s website and Facebook page. We hope all of our readers had a safe, happy Labor Day!

 

Destination Freedom Evaluation Survey

Good Afternoon All,

lakca-ug-railrodWe hope that everyone is continuing to enjoy the summer season. It is hard to believe that our Destination Freedom Interpretive Walking Tour has been operational for nearly two whole months now! As with all of our programs, the Waverly Community House will continue to develop this educational map to meet the needs of the community. In order to successfully do this, the Comm would like to kindly ask anyone who has taken the tour thus far, to participate in a very brief survey to evaluate the experience as a whole. We would love to hear any and all feedback from our community members regarding this new project. You can find a link to the survey at the bottom of this post or via our Facebook page. Maps are currently available at the Waverly Community House Monday-Friday from 9am-3pm in the Main Offices, and on Saturday from 9am-1pm in the Abington Visitor’s Center (Comm North Wing). They are also available outside those hours by appointment; reservations can be made by calling (570) 586-8191 ex. 7. Stay tuned for more updates and thank you all for participating in Destination Freedom!

Link to survey:      https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Z7KLVCB

 

Summertime Celebration: The Comm Square Fair & Anniversary Gathering, 1995

“The Waverly Community House’s history since it was created, has been one of steady growth. Decades after being built, the Comm serves as a viable reminder of what one vision, and the support of several generations of enthusiastic volunteers can accomplish– proof that the sense of community of days gone by need not be lost by progress or change. (The Voice, Waverly Community House Anniversary Edition 1980)”

ParadeOn June 26th, 1995, the Waverly Community House held its 75th anniversary celebration with its opening event– the Comm Square Fair; “Celebrating 75 Years of Community History” was the theme and the affair began following a lively parade full of community members eager to show their support for the Comm. After the parade, guests were then met with the Almost Antiques Market, live music, entertainment for all ages such as: clowns, dancers, and the University of Scranton Jazz Ensemble. Many of the events were tailored exclusively for children including: a moon walk, dunk tank, obstacle course, and pony rides. Additional activities included crafts and local vendor booths. This anniversary celebration was an all day affair, beginning at noon and concluding in the evening; this event was simply one of the many ways that community members gathered in celebration of the Waverly Community House throughout its decades of operation.

Additionally, the Waverly Community House’s 75th anniversary was recognized withPlay the creation of a commemorative theatrical production entitled: “This House Builded,” a performance dedicated to sharing the history of the Comm’s origins and featured a cast of characters which included Paul Belin, Margaretta Belin, and George Lewis. The play honored the Waverly Community House’s journey throughout various decades of service and touched upon the innovative nature of all Comm programs. The show was written by Leigh Strimbeck and co-written by Elizabeth Markowitz, and premiered during the month of June 1995.

This year, the Waverly Community House will continue the late summer celebratory tradition with the Waverly  Township Community Fair. The gathering will be held this Friday, July 21st from 630-830 pm at the Waverly Community House. This year’s activities will include: a picnic dinner, bouncy house, carnival games, live music, and much more. All proceeds raised will also aid the Comm in creation of its latest community program– the Comm Children’s Interactive Center, which is currently in development and will make its debut in the near future. Stay tuned for updates in the upcoming year regarding this new venture!Community Fair 2017

As the Waverly Community House continues to thrive through another exciting, fun filled, summer season, we remain one year closer to approaching our centennial anniversary in 2019. The Comm is currently in the process of creating new programs, activities, and events dedicated to enriching the community for the next one hundred years. For now, some upcoming events to watch out for include: Cocktails for the Courts, Destination Freedom field trips, and Cars and Coffee. For more information on programs and events check our website for updates!

Underground Railroad Field Trips at the Waverly Community House

This past Friday, the Waverly Community House welcomed two groups of students from both the Newton Ransom Elementary School and South Abington Elementary School. Arriving on the Comm’s back lawn, students were eager to learn about the locations and individuals featured on the map, and their significance in our region’s local history. During the trip, the children learned about Leonard Batchelor, an abolitionist so dedicated to aiding the runaways that he hid them on his property and provided transportation to their next stops. They also heard about Dr. Andrew unnamed (1)Bedford, Rodman Sisson, Reverend Kennedy, Samuel Whaling, and John Raymond- all local residents who once lived along North Abington Road and had varying levels of involvement in the Underground Railroad Movement. Next, the classes were escorted to Carbondale Road, where they learned about the runaways and were able to view the first African Methodist Episcopal Church (currently a private residence), along with some of the homes of former slaves. Also included in the tour was information about the local churches and their contribution to the movement as well as the cemeteries where former slaves and abolitionists are buried.

Both groups of students learned valuable information and were able to learn how our local region played a pivotal role in a movement so crucial to the history of the United States. Children were also able to utilize the walking trail map in order to see the real life locations still currently standing and to visualize what transpired there in the 1800’s. The Waverly Community House will continue to develop this initiative and is currently accepting reservations for fall trips. To make a reservation, or to learn more about the map and future volunteer opportunities, please contact Gia Reviello at (570) 586-8191 ex.7, or Comm Executive Director Maria Wilson at (570) 586-8191 ex. 1.

Destination Freedom Update

UGRR

After months of development and anticipation, the Waverly Community House is pleased to announce that our Destination Freedom Walking Trail Map and accompanying companion reader has been completed. Both pieces will be making their inaugural appearance this Friday as we will be hosting two field trip groups from Newton Ransom Elementary School and South Abington Elementary School. The following week, the Comm will be having three more groups visiting from Waverly Elementary School. This is a project that the Waverly Community House will continue to develop over time as the potential and community interest remain limitless. Additional information on private and public tours will be made available in the near future after the initial walking tours.

Volunteers are welcome to participate and learn how to assist on both current and future field trips and group tours. Please contact Gia Reviello, Comm Classroom and Archive Coordinator for further details. Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting project on this blog and our Facebook page!

Celebrating the Season: Spring Festivities at the Waverly Community House

Every year, the Waverly Community House prepares for the springtime in various ways; after the long winter months, community members look forward to the nice weather and the Comm readily creates fresh new events to mark the occasion. Today’s blog post will take a look at some of the Waverly Community House’s past spring events. Enjoy!

The Annual March Dance: Each year, beginning in the 1920’s, the Waverly Athletic Association would sponsor the March Dance; at this event, a 50 cent ticket would admit one person for an evening of dancing, refreshments, and socializing. Young children and adults were especially encouraged to attend these dances by Community House staff because they viewed dancing as a crucial developmental sport that had the potential to improve upon “speed, agility, accuracy, lightness of foot, readiness of hand, and the ability to be quick in thought and action.” Comm employees Gertrude Coursen, Helen Fish, and Ruth Harrison often attended these events and supervised the children; this community dance was a fun event that many looked forward to all year.

Spring Fashion Shows: Another way the Community House kicked off the season was with their Annual Spring Fashion Show titled, “Silhouette of Spring.” This show was held in collaboration between the Community Club and the Globe Store and featured local women and young adults modeling warm weather fashions for the community. The first show was held in the 1940’s and the event continued into the next decade.

Spring Music Festivals: Spring music festivals at the Waverly Community House began in the 1920’s and continued through the 1950’s. Many of them were held by the Waverly School and were very well planned events consisting of refreshments, elaborate floral displays, and many musical numbers performed by various members of the school’s chorus and glee club. The Spring Music Festival took place every March and were very popular among both children and adults.

May Festival: The May Festival was held on Community House grounds and featured May Festival 1927the crowning of Waverly’s “May Queen.” This was another festive way to kick off the season with a fun event; pictured in this photograph is 1927’s May Queen Susan Wheeler.

The Waverly Community House has always held festive events to mark the changing of the seasons and spring is no exception; this year, there is a lot to look forward to such as: the Second Annual Greenhouse and Kitchen Show, the Spring Photography Show, Waverly Waddle 5k Run Walk, and many developments in the Underground Railroad Interpretive Map. Stay tuned for these exciting events; happy spring!

Embattled Freedom: Jim Remsen Book Signing & Talk at the Waverly Community House

Our latest blog post revealed that the Waverly Community House has received a grant fromjr-painting the Lackawanna Heritage Valley for the development of our latest Comm Classroom initiative: Destination Freedom; in addition to this, the Comm is happy to announce that we will be hosting a book talk and signing with author, and former Waverly resident Jim Remsen. The event will celebrate the publication of Mr. Remsen’s book titled Embattled Freedom: Chronicle of a Fugitive-Slave Haven in the Wary North, a book which heavily focuses on Waverly’s role in the Underground Railroad.

This event will take place at the Waverly Community House on Sunday, March 5th at 1:00pm and will be free and open to the public. We hope to see you there!

Destination Freedom: The Underground Railroad in the Abingtons

As the Civil War grew imminent, the 1800’s remain a significant piece in both American ugrr-timesand local history. It was at this time, that more than 50,000 runaway fugitive slaves attempted to obtain their freedom through what is known as the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad was the name given to the network of secret routes and safe houses which served to aid the enslaved runaways as they migrated from the Southern slave states to areas such as the Northeastern US and Canada; they were often aided by abolitionists, former slaves, and those who remained dedicated to the anti-slavery movement in the United States. For many, one crucial area of their journey was right here in the Abingtons; this was where a great deal of runaways passed through, and were substantially assisted by local residents on their trek towards freedom. In fact, because of the sense of community and refuge that the area provided, a great deal of runaways even settled down in Waverly and the surrounding areas; they bought and rented homes at reasonable prices on installment plans from certain property owners willing to extend assistance to their families. At one time, over 75 African-American residents established residences in the area; likewise, the very first A.M.E church began in the area and the structure presently remains. In addition to providing them with land, local residents also taught the former slaves how to read and write; ultimately, the Abingtons remain symbolic of hope and bravery during a time of civil unrest in the United States.

At this time, the Waverly Community House is proud to announce that it as been awarded alhvlogoonwhite grant from the Lackawanna Heritage Valley National State and Heritage Area (LHV). Thanks to this grant, the Comm will create Destination Freedom: an Interpretive Walking Trail Map; this map will serve as a guide for visitors to utilize in order to see and learn about the local sites of significance of the Underground Railroad. It is our intention to benefit the community through this unique learning tool by emphasizing the importance of local history and heritage. The Lackawanna Heritage Valley National State and Heritage Area has supported this project in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the National Park Service. We are also partnering with author Jim Remsen, who has done extensive research on the subject. We remain very excited for this project, and more information, as well as volunteer opportunity information will be supplied in the near future. Stay tuned!

The Comm Archive also wishes all of our valued community members a happy new year; we are excited to see what 2017 brings!

**Map above is credited to the Scranton Times, February 2004

Recreation, Inspiration, & Education: Swarthmore Chautauqua at the Waverly Community House

In the late 19th century, an adult education movement entitled Chautauqua made its debutchautauqua in the United States. This program quickly gained popularity due to its recreational and educational components; it also took place during a time when entertainment was very limited to those who lived in large cities and metropolitan areas. Chautauqua chapters focused on providing those in rural areas with productions revolving around a number of topics and categories; these shows took shape in the form of educational lectures, musical performances, theatrical plays, and much more. The idea behind this was attributed to the perceived isolation that American farming communities felt in regards to social and cultural offerings. Soon, agricultural communities were holding Chautauqua assemblies yearly– one such community was Waverly, and at the center of it all–the Waverly Community House.

chautauqua-2The Waverly Community House hosted the Chautauqua circuit designated as the Swarthmore Chautauqua. This particular program took shape in the form of a three day event centered around comedic presentations, intellectual lectures, dramatic plays, and musical performances. There was also a subset known as the Junior Chautauqua which was entirely operated by teens and featured many educational themed events. As with all Comm offerings, the festival gained tremendous popularity and was heavily modeled around providing community members with educational, recreational, and cultural opportunities in order to highlight its mission statement. Starting in 1920, the Waverly Community House began their incorporation with the Chautauqua movement by holding three-day festivals taking place yearly; some specific programs featured at the Comm are listed below.

The Davis Sisters (1926): A musical duet, also called the American Girl Buglers; they were musical artists who began training at just two years of age. The Davis sisters played a number of instruments during their show and were a very popular act due to the symbolic patriotism that their show demonstrated.

Give and Take, a Chautauqua Play (1926): This performance was described as, “a screaming farce, a laugh in every line–clean–a real Chautauqua play.” The play had long runs in New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago and was featured at the Comm for two consecutive years.

Mrs. Josephine Dominick: “Well Dressed on a Moderate Budget (1927):” A lecture demonstration on “the fundamentals of good taste in dress and how to show good taste on a moderate allowance.” During her segment, Mrs. Dominick modeled various outfits for the audience in attendance.

The presentations above are simply a few of the offerings of the Swarthmore Chautauqua, brought to the Abingtons and surrounding areas through the Waverly Community House. The Comm hosted the event for a total of eight years with intention of enhancing rural life through cultural opportunities– as it does today in the form of a multitude of programming and events. A quote from the National Community Foundation regarding the Chautauqua movement is as follows: ” The National Community Foundation remains committed to bringing communities opportunities for popular education,cultural advancement, letters, and drama of a type ordinarily obtainable only in the largest metropolitan areas.”  

 

Artisans’ 2016 Archive Wrap-Up

As we wrap-up yet another successful show, the Waverly Community House Archives would like to sincerely thank everyone who came up to visit us this past weekend. It was a great pleasure to be able to answer questions from those interested in the history of Waverly, the Comm, and the Scranton Lace Company. The genuine interest of our community members is what keeps our Comm Classroom & Archives initiative thriving. We would also like to remind everyone that the Waverly Community House Archives is open daily through appointment for anyone who would like to access our space; contact information will be supplied down below. Stay tuned for updates, volunteer opportunities, and more via our blog; we have lots of new developments which will be taking place in 2017.

The Waverly Community House Archives would like to wish all of our wonderful community members a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Waverly Community House Archives

Comm South Wing: 1115 N. Abington Road

Phone: (570) 586-8191 ext. 7