Wallenpaupack Historical Society (WHS) held a strategy planning meeting Oct. 2nd, to consider a new location for a museum in the Hawley area, reinvigorate membership numbers and attract the younger generation.

PALMYRA TWP.(Pike) - Wallenpaupack Historical Society (WHS) held a strategy planning meeting Oct. 2nd, to consider a new location for a museum in the Hawley area, reinvigorate membership numbers and attract the younger generation.

Numerous ideas were presented as the 21 people in attendance brainstormed around four breakfast tables. There were members of the WHS board, Hawley Borough Council, Palmyra Township-Pike County officials, Downtown Hawley Partnership, Hawley Library, Wallenpaupack Area School District, local business people and the field representative for Senator Lisa Baker among those present. They met at the Wallenpaupack Environmental Learning Center, where the WHS holds monthly meetings, has an office and exhibits some artifacts.

“We are now at a critical stage in our service mission,” a printed statement from the WHS board indicated. “We require greater space for storage, display area, need to expand the board of directors, recruit and expand the volunteer program, invigorate all participants, secure a financial future, and resources to extend our educational outreach to the general public.”

Robert Essex, WHS President, told the group that the Williams House, an old farmhouse on Route 507 in Paupack, is not suiting their needs. The Society maintains a museum there, staffed on certain days of the year by volunteers.

The location, several miles from Hawley, limits the number of visitors. There is no room for public meetings and the building is in disrepair. He said that they have many wonderful artifacts that have been collected, but much of it has to stay in storage.

There was much discussion over potential sites in downtown Hawley, including on Main Avenue, Church Street and near Bingham Park. Among factors the WHS must consider are the price, the suitability of the property and parking.

Only some of the comments are given here.

Dick Briden, WHS board member, said that having a base in Hawley would enhance tourism.

Grant Genzlinger, who has had much experience restoring historic, local properties and in the tourism/hospitality industry, urged a regional approach. He recommended contacting the Wayne County Historical Society (WCHS) as well as the Pike County Historical Society (PCHS) to see how they can partner together. (Genzlinger is also a former WCHS president.)

The WCHS operates D&H Canal Park at Lock 31, only a mile from Hawley. Briden noted that the canal, which extended through Hawley and connected with a basin in what is today Bingham Park, is a “common thread” for the region.

A unified vision will be required, Genzlinger suggested, which can then be presented to prospective members and to donors.

Ideas were voiced over how to attract the youth. WHS board member Robert Ammon said that at his table, a suggestion was made to start a Facebook page, which could be developed as a school project. Anthony Waldron suggested working with Wallenpaupack schools.

Hawley Councilman Mike Dougherty, who also does a comic act, suggesting that a comedy night could generate interest. The idea was expanded by having perhaps a history skit, even a comic version.

Dougherty noted that making history personal, by connecting history for kids with their grandparents, would help.

The mission statement of the WHS is “Keeping the Wallenpaupack area history alive and accessible to present and future generations.” According to the board, “Historical societies strengthen bonds of community, foster ride, and deepen trust among our citizens, and tourists as well.” This in turn makes the community more attractive and spurs economic growth.

WHS is seeking input to assist in the Society’s goals, noting there are unlimited opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds to volunteer.

Notes gathered from the discussions at the meeting will be reviewed by the WHS board.

“I really feel strongly that knowledge of local history builds pride in the community and lifts the whole community,” Briden stated.

For more information, the WHS may be contacted at 570-226-8980; Wallenpaupack Historical Society, P.O. Box 345 Paupack, PA 18451.