Continuing Traditions: The Memorial Garden at the Waverly Community House

Those familiar with the Waverly Community House’s outdoor landscape often look forward to springtime each year as the flowers begin to bloom and greenery starts to show, indicating to everyone that warmer, brighter days are ahead. One of the most beautiful locations to witness this beauty on the Comm’s outdoor grounds is the Memorial Garden, which sits alongside the beloved Community House Playground. As with most of the additions at the Comm, the Memorial Garden has a history all its own, filled with a sense of beauty, community, and family.

The exquisite Memorial Garden at the Waverly Community House filled with flowers, Commander Peter Belin, 1948greenery, and seating for the public to enjoy was gifted to the Comm by Harry Lammot Belin in memory of his father, Captain Peter Belin. Peter Belin was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania and spent part of his youth in both Istanbul and Peking, where his father, Ferdinand Lammot Belin was a Foreign Service Officer. Peter later received his education at schools in Switzerland and the United States, ultimately graduating from Yale University as a young adult in 1936. Captain Belin was a passenger aboard the ill-fated Hindenburg Zeppelin when it burned and crashed in Lakehurst New Jersey in 1937. He began his naval career later that year and spent most of it in intelligence; his overseas posts included London, Paris, and the Mediterranean. Peter Belin retired in 1960 and lived at “Evermay,” a historic estate in Georgetown; one of Peter’s great interests was historic preservation and he engaged in many conservation efforts throughout his life. Mr. Belin dedicated much of his life to service with one of his most significant contributions being the establishment of the Belin Arts Scholarship in 1964; this award continues to aid artists today and has been expanded upon and redefined throughout the years to reach individuals across the world. Captain Peter Belin died on February 23rd, 1982, however his presence reverberates through both the scholarship and Memorial Garden, established by his son, Harry Lammot Belin in May of 1996.

MG PamphletThe Peter Belin Memorial Garden at the Waverly Community House was designed by J. Wayne Pratt, R.L.A., landscape architect. It was installed by Four Seasons Lawn Care and organized by the Landscape Committee of the Waverly Community House Board of Trustees. The formal Dedication Ceremony took place on May 19th, 1996 at 12:00 noon with opening remarks, followed by a luncheon attended by Mr. Belin’s friends, family, and local community members. Opening remarks were made by Harry Belin who spoke fondly of his father, the Waverly Community House, and the Abingtons. Part of his speech is quoted below.

“Why Waverly for a family memorial to my father? After all, there were other places he enjoyed and loved such as “Evermay,” our estate and gardens in Washington D.C., or Chateau Andelot in France, or Conversation Peace at Virginia Beach. Each had its special spot in my father’s heart. But, as best as my memory can serve, we all know that he became the most excited to go, and he was the happiest and most at ease with his extended family in the Abingtons. My father enjoyed life to its fullest. In so doing, highest on his list of priorities was a childlike Joie de Vivre (with humor at its core), and family and friends. In this context, I believe he considered Waverly his most favorite “playground.” It is hoped that in establishing this Memorial Garden close by the Comm’s own playground, thus may my father’s spirit live on at the heart of the village he loved dearly and amongst one of the most joyful of sounds God has designed …..children at play.” — Harry L. Belin (May 19th, 1996)

The Memorial Garden at the Waverly Community House has been serving the community since its establishment in 1996. It was later upgraded in 2017, thanks again to the generosity and guidance of Harry Belin. It is a resting place, a play area, a quiet reflection spot, an area of tranquility for all to enjoy, and of course– it is a gift to the community, beloved by individuals and families of all ages and walks of life.

This garden is dedicated to the memory of Peter Belin (1913-1982). May the sounds of children at play sing of his love for Waverly, and the people of the Abingtons.

This remembrance is dedicated to our great friend, Harry Lammot Belin (1942-2019).Garden 7

Festive Fall Fun: October at the Waverly Community House

Each year, as autumn approaches the Northeastern Pennsylvania region, the Waverly Community House prepares for a very busy season full of activities to close out the remainder of the year. From costume parties, parades, children’s events, club meetings, classes, and other special programming, the building is enveloped in activity. Today’s blog post will highlight what makes the Comm so special during this time of year by taking a look at one of our archival newsletters from October of 1988. Enjoy!

Art Classes by Predrag Djordjevic: on October 10th, 1988, the Waverly Community House began a series of children’s art classes taught by artist Predrag Djordjevic. Djordjevic was born in Yugoslavia and studied at the Royal College of Art in London, England; he is a painter who has held one man shows throughout the United States and abroad. That year, Predrag taught children aged 9-12 drawing and painting in an effort to introduce them to new ways to tailor their craft. Art has always been an important part of the Comm’s mission and will continue to reflect on our mission statement through new art classes and programs currently under development for the upcoming year.

Parent Education Series: the Continuing Parent Education Series at the Waverly Community House was a sponsored program aiming to provide parents with advice, education, and guidance on a wide variety of topics. Childcare services were also provided at the Comm during the program for parents accompanied by their children. On October 5th, 1988, the series was hosted by Ruby Moye Salazar, a Ph.D. holder from Ohio State University specializing in developmental disabilities.

New York City Fall Bus Trip: On Wednesday October 26th, 1988, a bus trip, organized by the Waverly Women’s Club, departed from the Comm at 8:00 am., headed for New York City. The group then returned to the Comm at 10:30 pm. Tickets for this trip were $13.50 per person. This was one of the many opportunities for community members to engage in different types of activities with one another as organized through the Comm and it’s clubs.

Roller Skating at the Comm: In October of 1988, Roller Skating was held in the Comm’s gymnasium. The newsletter reads as follows: “Beginning on October 1st, the Comm will sponsor Roller Skating in the Gym from 10:30 am- 12 noon. So grab your skates, (or well soiled shoes as we only have clamp on skates) and come to the Comm. Our in-house DJ, Pete Sawchak will provide good music! If you have any questions please contact the Comm’s office.”

unnamedSome Ghostly Good News: The Comm held its annual Children’s Halloween Party on Monday, October 31st 1988 in the gymnasium from 3:30 pm- 5:30 pm. The party was free and refreshments were provided. This year, community members can look forward to a Harry Potter themed Halloween Party held at the Comm on Saturday, October 27th from 1 pm- 3 pm.

Some additional events from the October 1988 Newsletter…

United Methodist Church Bake Sale: October 12th, 1988 at 8:00 am.

Movie Night at the Comm: October 14th, 1988 at 7:00 pm.

Italian Hoagie Sale: October 14th, 1988 at 2:00 pm.

We would like to take this time to give a very special thank you to all of our very valued community members and followers. We love being able to share our history with you!

Collective American Memory: Post Civil War Commemoration at the Waverly Community House

The American Civil War remains one of the defining events in United States history; between 1861-1865, American soil was inhabited by conflicts, battles, and general unrest. This four year war between the Union and Confederate armies forever changed the country’s dynamic leaving lasting effects throughout the nation. This crucial period in American history is recognized and commemorated through publications, archive collections, and various other means of remembrance. One particular way that the Civil War stays in American memory is through the organization of veterans groups and associations designed to serve as a meeting ground in the post- war world dedicated to linking individuals together through their collective war experiences. In addition to providing a refuge for runaway slaves during the Underground Railroad Movement, Waverly also served as a significant meeting ground for the aforementioned early Veterans’ Association meetings following the war. These meetings were held at the Waverly Community House and were well received and highly attended; this is exemplary of the Comm’s dedication to community needs throughout history.

In an archival letter dated July 29th, 1927, Mr. W.T. Simpson, organization president writes:

Dear Comrade,

The Civil War Union Veterans’ Association of the counties of Broome, NY, Bradford, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Susquehanna, and Wyoming Pennsylvania will hold their reunion at the Waverly Community House in Waverly, Pennsylvania on Friday July 29th, 1927. It will be held at 9 am and continue all day. Two bus lines will leave Scranton for Waverly as follows: the Scranton and Binghamton area has a bus leaving from the station at 231 Wyoming Avenue at 8 and 10 am, returning bus leaves Waverly at 2:10, 4:10, and 6:05 pm. There is another bus leaving from the 600 block of Lackawanna Avenue near the D L& W Station at 9:30 am and 12:40 pm. This bus leaves Waverly at 3:34, 6:04, and 9:14 pm. This invitation is extended to members of the Womens’ Relief Corps, Daughters of the Union Veterans, GAR Circle and their auxiliaries, and Sons of the Union Veterans and their auxiliaries. Dinner will be served free to all present. Hoping a large number will come and “Rally around the Flag” once more.

A short time later, a follow up letter was sent to the Waverly Community House addressed to Paul Belin. This archival piece reads as follows:

Dear Mr. Belin,

At the Annual Meeting of the Seven County Reunion, held at the Waverly Community House on July 29th, 1927, a resolution was adopted to send you a tremendous vote of thanks for your kindness in carrying out your mother’s wishes and making it possible for us to have one of the most enjoyable reunions ever held. Everything certainly was arranged for the comfort of all present and we want you to feel that we highly appreciate it. 

Finally, an additional letter sent to Mr. Belin from the Daughters of Union Veterans indicates:

Mr. Belin,

CW2On behalf of Elizabeth DeLacy Tent N. 10 Daughters of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, I wish to express our sincere thanks for the courtesy and wonderful dinner given by you, in your mother’s memory, which was thoroughly enjoyed by the old veterans and members of our Tent at the recent Seven Counties Reunion in Waverly PA.

In the letters above, it is revealed that Paul Belin served as one of the principal organizers of the reunion dinners in memory of his mother Margaretta; her death that preceding February remained in the background of the occasion however, it respectfully did not overshadow the primary message of the event– to honor the Union veterans of the United States. These types of events became prominent throughout the country in the years following the Civil War which demonstrates the national imperative to collectively commemorate this period of time in American history. The Waverly Community House, still relatively new at the time, certainly made an impression on the authors of the above written letters by serving as a meeting ground for their much valued reunion. In the years to come, the Comm would develop and serve the community in various similar ways; with its centennial anniversary approaching, all of these ways will be highlighted in our blog and we look forward to continuing to provide our readers with these significant historical milestones.

Community Member Feature: Gertrude Coursen

“Community Houses are more or less a new idea in this country and we know that they have come to remain, for they meet a real human need. It is up to us and to others who are pioneers in this field of activity to set our standards and ideals high. These ideals can be made practical only with the help of each and all. The grown ups cannot do it alone, the young people cannot do it alone. If the people of the community continue to pull together, as they have begun, toward the goal of health, happiness, and service, this community will become more and more as one upon a hill, which lets its light shine in rich blessing to others.” (Gertrude Coursen, April 1926)

The Waverly Community House Archives would like to wish all of our readers a very Happy New Year– we have a lot of exciting events planned for 2018 and cannot wait to share them with all of you! Today’s Community Member Feature will be dedicated to Gertrude Coursen, a very ambitious, enthusiastic woman who remains present in spirit, especially through our Archive and educational programs at the Waverly Community House.

GC 2Gertrude Coursen was born in Scranton on July 16th, 1882; she was just in her late twenties when she began her career as Community House Secretary in 1920. In this role Miss Coursen, as she was known, supervised daily operations at the Comm; her tasks included but were not limited to: helping organize the Annual Fair, providing Annual Meeting reports, conceptualizing new programs, and much more. Although she was very passionate about all of her tasks, her greatest joy, evidenced in her archival recollections, was undoubtedly her role as kindergarten teacher. Coursen cared strongly about the children of the community and was constantly seeking ways to enrich their lives in both educational and recreational aspects. Likewise, as evidenced through her Annual Meeting reports, she was dedicated to conducting research in order to seek innovative ways to enhance the Comm’s Kindergarten program. From 1930-1931, Gertrude Coursen took a sabbatical from her duties at the Waverly Community House and spent several months studying social welfare work and traveling to other community houses throughout the country; some of the places she visited included New York City, Chicago, and areas abroad in Europe. While there, she observed kindergarten classes in order to determine how the Comm’s program measured up. In a 1931 letter, she assured the Board of Trustees that the curriculum, as well as the operations of the Waverly Community House as a whole, were as advanced as those in larger cities. When she returned, she remained passionate about her role as kindergarten teacher and she frequently sought out new ways to aid the children on their journey of becoming well rounded adults; her Annual Meeting reports were filled with quotes and research conducted from various publications such as the National Education Magazine. Throughout her time teaching, she not only focused on education, but insisted on dedicating ample time for recreational activities as well as evidenced in this quote from the 1932 Annual Meeting: “Children have a right to health, to normal growth and development, to security, and to the happiness which comes from true play.” Constantly striving to make the community a better place through education and recreation was a passion of Miss Coursen and it showed throughout her work as both Comm Secretary and Kindergarten Teacher; those who wrote of her in archival publications spoke of her, and the program’s success fondly and often. Henry Belin Jr. III, wrote of Coursen and the Kindergarten in 1938 as follows: “The kindergarten, under the direction of Miss Coursen, assisted by Miss Eynon and Mrs. Doud has maintained the usual high standard that we have been accustomed to in Waverly. It is a great satisfaction to all of us to realize that people from as far away as Scranton prefer to have their children attend the Waverly Kindergarten. Miss Coursen has ably carried on the duties which are required of her at the Community House, which has run smoothly under her able guidance.”

While highly successful in her instructional duties, Gertrude Coursen’s significance cannot simply be measured in that regard however; Miss Coursen was one of the first creators of what is now an entire archival collection housed at the Waverly Community House. Beginning in 1920, Coursen meticulously collected each and every newspaper article, photograph, and report regarding the Comm; she then organized them into scrapbooks arranged by date and year. These books were added to regularly until the late 1940’s when Coursen left and other methods of collecting materials by her successors began. The Waverly Community House Archive would not be complete without Miss Coursen and for that we are grateful. We will close out today’s post below with a memorable quote from her 1922 Annual Meeting report.

“We as a community have a big place to fill in serving– many other communities are hoping and working so that they may too have a community house. In a measure, they are looking to us. May we always remember that its the spirit which counts– that the Waverly Community House may be one of true happiness, example, and service.”

Kindergarten


In other news, the Waverly Community House is currently accepting donations of materials in preparation for our centennial anniversary. If you have any memorabilia, photographs, news articles, or materials relating to the Comm and Waverly that you would like to donate, please contact us at: (570) 586-8191 ex. 7, or via email at greviello@waverlycomm.org. We would love to be able to feature your memories in our centennial!

‘Tis the Season: Holiday Celebrations at the Waverly Community House

“We are always glad for the opportunity to turn the pages of the year and there we find much interest and significance. We find a spirit of helpfulness, friendliness, and cooperation among our staff and community members. The same spirit brings us excellent volunteer leaders for our clubs and classes; it has also brought us a community Christmas tree from the Waverly Grange. It has made possible the work of various committees and the Board of Trustees, and the great success of our programs. On the page of memory, which will remain with us always, we find the meaning of true friendship in the interest, understanding, sympathy, and generosity of Mrs. Henry Belin Jr. who has made possible for us this work.” (Gertrude Coursen, December 1929)

The Waverly Community House has always finished each year with both new and traditional programs to celebrate the spirit of the holiday season with community members. As the Comm brings another promising year to a close, this post will serve to reflect on some of the historical celebrations of years past.  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 2018.

Christmas Carol Program 1Seasonal Christmas Productions: Theatrical productions served as a prominent way that the Waverly Community House would celebrate the holiday season. Such plays would take place during the month of December and would feature a different theme each year. On December 20th, 1944, the annual play was titled “the Community Christmas Program” and was directed by Frances Dewey Fausold. The production was held at 8pm in the Comm’s auditorium and was heavily inspired by the work of playwright Joyce Vernon Drake. This year, community members can look forward to attending “A Christmas Carol” at the Comm performed by Robert Hughes this Friday, December 15th at 7pm; it is open to the public and light refreshments will be served.

Music Programs: In a similar fashion, the Waverly Community House held a variety of musical programs to ring in the Christmas season. On Christmas night, 1941 the Comm held a candlelit caroling program featuring songs, poems, and stories. The accompanying piece to this production features performances such as:

“The Holly and the Ivy” (solo)

“Ring out Sweet Bells” (carol)

“A Carol for the Children” (poem)

“A Christmas Letter” (story)

This program ended with a story entitled “The House of Christmas,” and was heavily attended by community members after their family gatherings.

Another way the Comm celebrated the season with music was through the organization of Christmas carolers. Each year, beginning in the 1930’s, the Boy and Girl Scouts would assemble a gathering of Christmas carolers to travel the neighborhood stopping at each house with a lit candle in their window. This tradition would typically take place on Christmas Eve and lasted for nearly a decade.

Community House Canteen: The Waverly Comm Canteen would also partake in a festive overhaul during the holidays; in early December, notices were sent out reminding community members that the Canteen was stocked up on Christmas candy for the public to utilize as gifts. A December 9th, 1933 notice reads as follows:

“Save yourself a trip to Scranton and order your family boxes of Christmas candy at the Community House Canteen. We also have decorated wrapping paper, twine, Christmas cards, and seals.”

Community members certainly took advantage of this offer, often purchasing many of their holiday essentials at the Waverly Community House Canteen.

Toy Donations: Toy donations were one of the many ways the Comm encouraged community members to give back during the Christmas season. During the winter months, the Comm would take donations of gently used toys and other items to donate to those less fortunate. Any broken toys would be repaired at the Comm before given out at the Annual Children’s Christmas Party. Many members of the public participated in this activity and began the Christmas season in the spirit of giving through the Waverly Community House.

Comm WinterThroughout the years, the Waverly Community House has withstood the test of time through its spirit of community and giving back. The Comm has served to bring community members together in various ways and the holiday season was no exception. As we bring 2017 to an end, community members can look forward to all of the great programs that 2018 will have to offer at the Waverly Community House. Stay tuned for all the exciting new developments. As always, we wish all of our valued community members a safe and happy holiday season.

The Waverly Community House Archives is located in the Comm’s South Wing; we can be reached at (570) 586-8191 ex. 7, or via email at greviello@waverlycomm.org.

 

Autumn Traditions at the Waverly Community House

The autumn season has always been full of activity at the Waverly Community House; throughout the years, the Comm has held many trips, parades, dances, masquerades, and theatrical productions in celebration of the fall and subsequent occasions such as Halloween and Thanksgiving. This post will focus on some of the ways the Waverly Community House has celebrated this time of year in the past, while also revealing what we currently have in store for the upcoming season. Community members will have a great deal to anticipate as the Comm finishes another fantastic, fun filled year.

Halloween DanceHalloween Celebrations: Beginning in the 1920’s, Halloween has been celebrated in numerous ways at the Comm; costume parties, dances, masquerades, and parades filled the calendar in October every year as children and adults prepared for the fall season. In 1928, the Comm held a Halloween Masquerade Dance for adults which was filled with dancing, refreshments, and music; 18th century colonial attire was the common theme of the event as costumed adults poured into the building for a night of festive entertainment. Similar events were also held for children, usually held by the Boy and Girl Scouts on Halloween afternoon; an invitation from the 1928 event reads as follows: “You are invited to a Halloween Frolic on Wednesday, October 31st from 3-5 pm at the Waverly Community House.” As the years passed, Halloween has always remained a celebratory occasion at the Comm and to commemorate the holiday this year, there will be a Family Halloween Party held on Saturday, October 28th from 1-230 pm; on this year’s schedule: a haunted house, trick or treat, crafts, games, dancing and a bake sale.

Fall Concerts: Autumn concerts began in the 1920’s and were presented by the Waverly Grade School and Jr. Sr. High School. These productions typically took place in early November and were filled with numerous themed musical numbers and demonstrations. The program for the 1942 Fall Concert includes acts thematically named “Salute to the Armed Forces,” “Salute to Washington,” and “Our Flag.” These concerts continued for years and often took place numerous times throughout the season; this was yet another way that the Waverly Community House utilized the arts in celebration, which still continues in our current programming.

Autumn Theatrical Productions: Another popular way the Waverly Community House celebrated the seasonal change was through theatrical productions. Each November beginning in 1926, the Comm would hold its “Thanksgiving Play.” This demonstration was given by the Waverly Grade School and Jr. Sr. High School. The program from the 1936 production indicates that it took place on November 25th at 2pm and featured a waltz, march, and proclamation.

Thanksgiving 1940Thanksgiving Dances: During the 1920’s and 30’s, dances were a very popular way to commemorate many occasions at the Waverly Community House and Thanksgiving was no exception. Each year, the Waverly Athletic Association held the annual Thanksgiving Dance at the Waverly Community House. This festive dance featured orchestral music and refreshments; admission was fifty cents. The invitation from the 1926 Thanksgiving Dance reads as follows: “The Waverly Athletic Association is giving a Thanksgiving Dance on Friday evening, November 26th, 1926. Good music– Eddie Moore’s Orchestra. Prize Fox Trot, confetti, streamers, and a guaranteed good time.”

Thanksgiving Night at the Waverly Community House: Shortly after the Comm opened in the 1920’s, another Thanksgiving tradition was born. In early November, community members were sent letters inviting them to the Waverly Community House Thanksgiving night following their dinner celebrations for “candy, dessert, and coffee.” This sentiment only lasted a few years however it served as an endearing, intimate way that the Comm encouraged community gathering and celebration.

CaptureThroughout the years, the Waverly Community House has served to bring community members together in various different ways; as the Comm aims to finish another year, community members can look forward to events such as: The Northeast PA Film Festival’s opening night, Halloween Party, Artisan’s Marketplace,and much more. Happy Fall!

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!

 

Finding Freedom along Carbondale Road: The Underground Railroad Settlement in Waverly

In the 1840’s, it is estimated that many fugitive slaves fleeing from persecution in the Southern states, began to make their way northward. Eventually, many started to
arrive in Waverly. They were welcomed primarily by many abolitionists who readily accepted them and aided them on their journey towards freedom. In this regard, the runaways were provided with shelter, food, and transportation to their next stop. Due to the comfort and solace they found in the area, many of them settled there, obtaining jobs and building properties along a street in the village named Carbondale Road. By the time the Civil War began, many additional runaways arrived with no further fear of pursuit and the total number of African-American residents in Waverly had once exceeded seventy individuals. Over time, these settlers created their own place in the region’s history and are perpetually remembered and commemorated by the community as many of the historic locations built and utilized by them remain in place today.

JSDuring the time of the Underground Railroad movement, Waverly’s Carbondale Road contained an undeveloped stretch of land, with many empty lots owned by a couple named John and Esther Stone. The Stones lived along the road amongst these unoccupied pieces of land until the runaways began to arrive sometime in the 1840’s. Initially, John Stone was a Democrat who opposed abolition; however, it appears that he eventually became sympathetic to the Underground Railroad Movement sometime after marrying Esther, the daughter of an abolitionist named Rodman Sisson. At some point, the Stones began to divide their  land into parcels which were then leased to the runaways on reasonable terms and installment plans. Stipulations included in the terms asked that the runaways maintain upkeep of the properties. Gradually, a settlement was built as runaways built and settled into their properties. They also obtained jobs as handymen, housekeepers, and nannies in order to support themselves and integrate into the community. As word traveled along the Underground Railroad system, more fugitives arrived in Waverly with the intention of joining the emerging African-American community. Names of the settlers are listed in numerous documents including the research of local resident William Lewis and are listed as such (in no particular order) : William Johnson, Richard Lee, John Lee, John Powell, George Keys, John Riley, Edward Smith, John Sampson, Samuel McDonald, Tom Williams, Benjamin Mason, John Washington, Thomas Burgette, John Mason, William Bradley, Paige Wells, William Fogg, William Talbot, Ignatius Thomas, William Allen, and William Wilson. Over the years, many more settled down in Waverly and a full list of those names can be found in the Waverly Community House’s Visitor’s Center.

In 1854, another significant development took place in Waverly. This was the year that the African Methodist Episcopal Church was erected along Carbondale Road. The church initially organized in 1844 with approximately twenty members; during this developmental time, services were held in the Fell Schoolhouse on North Abington Road. Land for the new building was deeded to church trustees by John Stone and provided a permanent place of worship, community, and refuge for the congregation members, many of them runaways. A Sunday school was also organized in 1856 with community member Joanna Raymond serving as the superintendent. The Waverly A.M.E. Church also had a literary society as well as a library; many runaways also learned to read and write sue to its creation. In addition to holding services at the church, camp revivals were also held in the woodsy space behind the building known as Fell’s Woods. These revivals were held regularly every summer until the 1900’s and drew crowds from outside the area who came to see the singing, dancing, and preaching activity. The church thrived for many years and is presently occupied as a private residence on Carbondale Road. During the time of its operation, it stood as a symbol of hope and unity for those fleeing from a lifetime of bondage and slavery.

As time passed, residents along Waverly’s historic Carbondale Road passed away and the fugitive population declined; by the year 1920, the A.M.E. Church had gone down to six members and was later sold in 1926. The rich memory of the Underground Railroad in Waverly is not forgotten however, and many of the historic properties presently exist in the form of updated private residences reflecting notions of the past. Furthermore, the Waverly Community House’s Underground Railroad Interpretive Walking Trail Map will shortly be available to those wishing to travel back in time to see the properties of the runaways, and the abolitionists who risked their lives to help them on their journey towards freedom.

 

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!

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.”