Destination Freedom Update


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


Holiday Traditions: The Annual Artisans’ Marketplace at the Waverly Community House

This weekend, the Waverly Community House will host its 33rd Annual Artisans’ Marketplace. What began as a small show in 1983, has evolved into an annual holiday tradition complete with new vendors and additions each year. Traditional fundraising events, such as the Artisans’ Marketplace have become anticipated gatherings serving to bring community members together in celebration of seasonal appreciation of the Waverly Community House. Proceeds from these benefits often go towards much loved programs at the Comm as well as general maintenance and upkeep of the building and grounds. Thus, the Annual Artisans’ Marketplace remains a staple of the Comm’s goal to further its mission by providing the community with various programs and opportunities designed for educational, recreational, and cultural enhancement.artisans

The Artisans’ Marketplace at the Waverly Community House is a public display of exhibitional materials from various vendors of all areas who sell items such as: fine art, pottery, glass works, jewelry, handmade soaps, food, home decor, and much more. The show takes place on the weekend before Thanksgiving with both Saturday and Sunday open for the public; lunch  is also usually catered and served in the Scout Room to make for an all day event. The very talented exhibitors, as well as the reasonably priced goods and festive atmosphere serve to create a very unique holiday shopping experience. This year, the show will have a new feature– a small works, juried exhibition titled Flora & Fauna, which will be held in the Comm’s South Wing; the works will also be displayed on the Comm’s website. Lunch this year will be served by Constantino’s Catering from 11:30-2pm each day of the show as well. As we end 2016, the Waverly Community House remains very grateful to all community members who attend events such as the Artisans’ Marketplace; we look forward to seeing you at the show.

For more information on this year’s show, please visit the Waverly Community House’s website or call: (570) 586-8191 extension 2.

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:

Tennis Court Transformation: Ice Skating at the Community House

Over the years, the Waverly Community House has always managed to provide
its visitors with innovative ways to enjoy themselves in their free time; this was especiallycapture2 evident in January of 1967 when the Comm became one of the first facilities in the region to provide residents with the opportunity to partake in ice skating with their friends and family members. In the winter of that year, Waverly Community House Executive Director Edgar Jones came up with the idea to transform the courts while speaking with many community members who mentioned that there were little to no venues featuring an active ice rink; after much thought, Jones who had served as Scranton’s former Superintendent of Recreation, inventively suggested implementing such a facility at the Waverly Community House. Upon approval from Comm staff and Board of Trustee members, Mr.Jones consulted with the Weather Bureau and local cemetery custodians in order to ensure that the ground was of the desired temperature and condition for feasible use. A prefabricated plastic liner, cut into strips was then submerged into water and placed into a freezer for a week to ensure that it would be adequately frozen. The strips were then used to cover the then 126 by 66 foot tennis court. This converted tennis court was a huge development at the Comm and enabled residents to enjoy the rest of their winter in a new, fun filled way. “This is just too good to believe,” Jones stated as he discussed the successful venture.

Winter ice skating hours at the Waverly Community House took place daily from 1pm- 10pm and were yet another way that the Comm has continued to captivate and engage its visitors.

Recreational Dedication: Extra Curricular Activities at the Waverly Community House

“As we plan and develop the activities of the Waverly Community House, keeping in mind the importance of laying the right foundation for the children and young adults, we cannot go far astray. We wish to help them through wholesome activities to become keener mentally and sound morally.” (Gertrude Coursen, 1930)

As September approaches, we are reminded that the start of the traditional school year is beginning. With that in mind, we thought it fitting to explore how the Waverly Community House has not only been innovative with regards to their educational programs, but with their recreational activities as well. The Comm has always been dedicated to holding both instruction and leisure hand in hand with the intention of guiding the younger generations towards  developing into balanced and well rounded individuals. Special activities and clubs have always been prevalent and the Comm has consistently served as a gathering space for children and young adults to enjoy themselves and interact with one another. As we explore some of the earlier recreational programs, it becomes evident that the Waverly Community House remains dedicated to making these opportunities available to children and adolescents in the form of various programs designed to enhance physical and mental development.

In the 1920’s-1950’s, the most popular youth programs at the Comm included a number of Girls Hiking Club 1933different activities; most were designed and created by Community House staff with the intention of accommodating a number of different interests. A quote from the 1929 Clubs and Classes Bulletin indicates this as follows: “You may find that there is a wide variety of activities that are scheduled at the Waverly Community House. This is necessary in order to meet the needs of many different individualities.” Recreational programs on this list included:

High school basketball: The Comm opened the doors of its gymnasium to allow Waverly High School use of its facilities for both practices and home games. Basketball practices often took place on evenings during the week and games were very well attended; there were also tournaments held at the Comm for fun. The basketball schedule was posted in the Lobby; this activity continued into the 1950’s.

Boys & girls game hour: Games played during this time included cards and ping pong, among others. During this time the Canteen would serve hot dogs and many other snacks for the children to enjoy.

Storytelling: Storytelling hour was most often attended by younger children on Saturday mornings; during this time, children would gather around Gertrude Coursen and various other special guests and enjoy the readings of different books. This was very similar to the Comm’s current Storytime offered in the Family Room.

Acting club: The Acting Club was primarily designed for high school students and often culminated with a production, much like the All about Theatre program offered today. Productions held by the Comm’s Acting Club included A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Blame it on Sandy, and many others.

Folk dancing: Irish Folk dancing was popular among high school girls and was considered by all as a form of physical education. It was primarily taught by an instructor from Scranton with costumes designed by Mary Brooks Picken from the Women’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences; productions and festivals were held at Nay Aug Park.

Sewing: Sewing class took place on Tuesday afternoons at 3 pm in the Scout Room; girls from ages 15-17 enjoyed making items such as dresses and embroidered garments under the direction of instructor Cora Carpenter.

Physical education class: Physical education was considered to be very important for teenagers and classes were held in the auditorium; tumbling, baseball, wrestling, boxing, balancing and singing all made the list of designated activities suited to serve as adequate exercises.

Camping/ hiking club: This club was formulated with the intention of making outdoor recreational opportunities available to young adults. It was well received among both boys and girls and many camping and hiking trips took place during the spring and summer months. Popular locations visited included Lake Tingley near Harford and Camp Archbald in Susquehanna County.

As demonstrated with the above list, the clubs and classes at the Comm revolved around aJr Sports Club 1929 number of different interests and needs; they were also at full capacity on a monthly basis as many local adolescents looked forward to enjoying themselves outside of the traditional school setting. It also gave them a chance to interact with many of their existing friends and to also form new relationships as well. Ultimately, the Waverly Community House provided recreational opportunities in the form of a unique, safe, and comforting setting and was very popular among both children and parents. Although some of those particular programs may not still be in use, the Comm has many current activities designated for children to enjoy outside of their traditional school atmosphere. These include but are not limited to: Comm Camp, art classes, dance camps and classes, and many others.

One of the Comm’s latest developments is the Comm Kids After School Program. This program focuses on providing children with a dynamic,safe, and entertaining setting to attend after school; under the direction of a talented and dedicated staff, local children interact with their friends, do their homework, and participate in fun projects and activities. It is also state licensed and serves as a full fledged child care center which corroborates with the Comm’s mission to “enrich the lives of individuals and families in the region by providing educational, recreational, and cultural opportunities.” The Comm Kids After School program is relatively new however it has become very popular for parents seeking to supply their children with a safe place to gather during after school hours. This program is one of many new demonstrations of progress that the Comm has made over the years in order to keep up with the current needs of the community it serves.

As previously discussed, the Waverly Community House has continued to evolve and develop to suit the current needs of the community. The Comm is unique in its ability to do so while remaining dedicated to its mission statement created in 1920. As we approach the centennial anniversary, these past programs reflect and complement new activities with the same purpose and meaning with the needs of the community at the forefront of all operations. For more information on the Comm Kids After School Program, you can find the registration form on our website.