Ron Faraday of the Greater Pittston Historical Society said Saturday’s third annual County-wide Summit of Community Historical Societies was a great opportunity to share information and inspiration with other area historical groups.
“As area communities move forward, we should do so with an understanding of the past,” said Farady. “Pittston is a great example of that spirit.”
Representatives from 15 historical societies attended the summit co-sponsored by the Luzerne County Historical Society and The Luzerne Foundation.
Tony Brooks, Luzerne County Historical Society executive director, emphasized the importance of the societies’ influence in sustaining the county’s historical sites and important objects. “There are no preservation police,” said Brooks, “but our power lies in our willingness to voice our commitment to our area and to its historical sites.”
Brooks lauded the 36 attendees gathered at the Bear Creek Inne for their participation and ongoing preservation efforts.
John Hepp, professor of history at Wilkes University, presented information on doing oral histories. Hepp addressed both inspirational and pragmatic aspects of recording those histories, addressing such issues as obtaining appropriate legal releases so the stories can be shared with the community. He also emphasized the use of technology that allows historical information to be stored digitally.
“As area populations are aging, oral histories are so important,” said Hepp. “They often fill in the gaps of written and visual histories.”
Marybeth Konrad, of the Plymouth Historical Society, said she especially appreciated the discussion of oral histories because of her remembrance of her grandmother’s storytelling, which painted a vivid picture of the past.
Jean Marie Berneski, of the Kingston Historical Society, was especially excited to be participating because that chapter formed within the last week. “I really appreciated hearing about various efforts of the other historical societies,” said Berneski, “and now the Kingston group will be well informed as we move forward.”
Attendees also voted on what they believed were the county’s 10 most endangered historical sites and the 10 they believed were the best. Topping the list of endangered sites were the Wilkes-Barre train station, the Irem Temple in Wilkes-Barre and Ashley’s Huber Breaker.
The list provides an opportunity for members of the community to reach out and support those sites at risk, Brooks said.
Attendees named the Stegmaier Mansion, Nathan Denison House, Forty Fort Meeting House, Wyoming Monument and the Shawnee Cemetery among the county’s best historical sites, crediting area residents for their work in maintaining and supporting them.