His­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety ex­hibit high­lights prod­ucts ‘Made in Mont­gomery County.’

His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety of Mont­gomery County pro­ject fo­cuses on county’s ‘pro­duc­tive per­son­al­ity’

The Community Connection - - FRONT PAGE - By M. English

NOR­RIS­TOWN » The His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety of Mont­gomery County’s on­go­ing Made in Mont­gomery County ex­hibit makes it clear that lo­cally made goods — “from food to fur­ni­ture to fine art” — have been a defin­ing part of this area’s pro­file since its es­tab­lish­ment in 1784.

The free show at HSMC head­quar­ters in Nor­ris­town opened June 30 and will con­tinue un­til next Feb. 1. It fea­tures every­thing from hand­crafted tall case clocks to pot­tery and agri­cul­tural im­ple­ments and is de­signed to high­light Mont­gomery County’s “pro­duc­tive per­son­al­ity … from the years of Euro­pean set­tle­ment and be­yond,” ex­plains HSMC Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Barry Rauhauser.

“I think that for ar­eas like Mont­gomery County, change and di­ver­sity have al­ways been defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics,” Rauhauser says. “We are an area of the coun­try that has wit­nessed nearly con­tin­u­ous change since our be­gin­nings. So, here at the His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety of Mont­gomery County, we es­pe­cially en­joy ex­am­in­ing themes that may sur­prise peo­ple with their con­ti­nu­ity.

“While the na­ture of Mont­gomery County’s his­tory of pro­duc­tion has changed over the past two cen­turies, the county and its peo­ple have re­mained strongly com­mit­ted to the idea and value of pro­duc­tion. Whether you look at pro­duc­tion as a craftsper­son cre­at­ing and dec­o­rat­ing a fine piece of pot­tery or you see pro­duc­tion as a ma­jor in­dus­try that is em­ploy­ing hun­dreds of work­ers to pro­duce steel, both cap­ture part of the iden­tity of Mont­gomery County. See­ing these ob­jects in the ex­hibit and learning about their mak­ers al­lows vis­i­tors to get a sense of Mont­gomery County’s pro­duc­tive per­son­al­ity.”

Although the firm isn’t fea­tured at the HSMC ex­hibit, any men­tion of steel will prompt long­time Mont­gomery County res­i­dents to re­call the huge im­pact Alan Wood Steel Co. played in this area’s econ­omy be­fore it closed its Con­shohocken op­er­a­tion in the mid-1970s.

“You could do a whole book on Alan Wood Steel, alone,” says Con­shohock­en­based his­to­rian Jack Coll. “They did so much, for ex­am­ple, [the in­ven­tion of] di­a­mond plate steel, which you see ev­ery­where, in­clud­ing, prob­a­bly, ev­ery ship deck in the world … these raised bumps on a metal sur­face that make it non­skid. They even­tu­ally sold the patent for di­a­mond plate steel, but it was Alan Wood Steel that came up with that.

“Here in Con­shohocken, you also had the John Wood com­pany. Their steel and cast-iron hot water tanks were all over the world. And Hale Fire Pump. You see pic­tures of France burn­ing in World War II, and there are Hale pumps on those trucks.”

On the other hand, the county has no short­age of prac­tic­ing pot­ters, and two of their dis­tin­guished pre­de­ces­sors are rep­re­sented in the Made in Mont­gomery County ex­hibit. Whitemarsh na­tive Holly Cairns’s late mother and grand­mother, June Keyser Adams and Mil­dred Keyser, be­gan cre­at­ing their dis­tinc­tive Penn­syl­va­nia Ger­man red ware pieces in the stu­dio, Brookcroft Pot­tery, at the fam­ily’s 17-acre homestead on But­ler Pike dur­ing the late 1930s.

Well be­fore ECRI oc­cu­pied the tract, Keyser and Adams were pro­duc­ing the highly re­garded pot­tery — signed with a styl­ized pine tree and an “A” or “K” — prized by con­tem­po­rary col­lec­tors. Five Brookcroft pieces are on dis­play at the HSMC show, among them a trio of plates from Cairns’s per­sonal col­lec­tion. A pot­ter her­self, Cairns spent decades teach­ing at both the Whitemarsh Art Cen­ter and Mont­gomery County Com­mu­nity Col­lege. She also over­saw the art gal­leries at MCCC’s Blue Bell and Pottstown cam­puses.

The Made in Mont­gomery County ex­hibit also in­cludes a pipe or­gan (ca. 1850) made by John Ziegler, a sur­veyor’s level (ca. 1770) made by David Rit­ten­house, a desk (ca. 1880) made by D.Y. Mow­day and sev­eral items re­lated to agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion in the county’s ear­li­est days.

HSMC is lo­cated at 1654 DeKalb St., Nor­ris­town. Made in Mont­gomery County is open to the pub­lic dur­ing the so­ci­ety’s nor­mal of­fice hours: Mon­days and Thurs­days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tues­days and Wed­nes­days from 1 to 8 p.m. and Satur­days from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. HSMC staff and ex­hibit cu­ra­tor is Karen Ploch.

Ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion is avail­able at 610-272-0297, con­tact@hsm­cpa.org and hsm­cpa.org.

Brew­eries and dis­til­leries have been a con­tin­u­ing pres­ence in Mont­gomery County, from the county’s ear­li­est days through the present with the pro­lif­er­a­tion of mi­cro-brew­eries.

A pipe or­gan made by John Ziegler of Skip­pack ca. 1850 is in­cluded in the His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety of Mont­gomery County’s on­go­ing Made in Mont­gomery County ex­hibit.

His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety of Mont­gomery County cu­ra­tor Karen Ploch stands with a sur­veyor’s level made by David Rit­ten­house ca. 1770.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.