The state of the Luzerne County Historical Society has never been better.
In fact, if anyone has missed updates on our Facebook and web pages, or has not been among the 1800 who have had the pleasure of reading two editions of our newly revamped LCHS Newsletter, they would have had been pleased to know the following:
1. The society has not cancelled the Bear Creek Summit but is merely revisiting the timing of the event in effort to provide more value to the many local historical societies within our region. As an example, we hope to put on an archival seminar, which we feel will greatly help local historical societies. The summit will likely be headed by board member William V. Lewis Jr. and hopefully supported by The Luzerne Foundation.
2. The garden party also was not cancelled; instead, it’s moved to Oct. 11 and morphed into a fall festival that will not only feature garden party staples such as the hat contest and volunteer awards, but also new features such as a chicken barbecue and Colonial children’s games on the lawns at Swetland Homestead. The new venue can support a much larger crowd and provide the ideal backdrop that we hope will honor the valued efforts of our 40-plus volunteers who have remained loyal to the cause of promoting and preserving our local history. In fact, the society took this step based on the positive feedback that we’ve received from members and the community.
3. This has been one of the best years in the society’s illustrious history.
Our fourth “Stars of the Valley Dinner” had more than 90 attendees, the most in its history. The society’s annual dinner was the most successful ever, thanks to the efforts of board members, dedicated volunteers and a litany of generous local sponsors such as Janet Flack Interiors. Our annual car show also attracted 100 cars, an unprecedented draw given the rainy weather. Membership and sponsorship is up, and not a week goes by that the society is not featured in some local media, the most recent being a wonderful five-part special on the Nathan Denison House. Even our Facebook followers are higher than at any point in history.
4. The society has a slew of new events on tap, such as the fall festival, and our new partnership with the 143rd Pennsylvania reenactors has spawned more than a half-dozen events and drawn numerous people to the Swetland Homestead. It is also leading to a 100 percent new Christmas event this winter.
We look forward to continuing what will soon be 160 years of preserving and promoting our local history – and we want all of you with us. Being the oldest county historical society in the commonwealth, it drives home the point that the mission of keeping our heritage alive is not always easy, but it has and will continue to be an undertaking that goes well beyond the efforts of one or a few individuals.
While we have been without an executive director for several years now (it was actually the development director who resigned almost one year ago), our dedicated staff of Amanda Fontenova (librarian), Mary Ruth Burke (museum curator), and myself provide a day-to-day, veteran team that is essentially on the front line of our collective mission to preserve our history. Collectively, we have almost 50 years of service to the society.
That said, we value the continued support of our 600-plus members and dedicated volunteers who keep moving the society forward in a direction that is consistent with good leadership.
Mark Riccetti Jr.
Special events and operations director
Luzerne County Historical Society