Upper Merion Historical Commission

December 08, 2023 00:27:25
Upper Merion Historical Commission
Upper Merion Township Community Connections
Upper Merion Historical Commission

Dec 08 2023 | 00:27:25

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Show Notes

Chuck Kirlin sits down with Matt McCaffery, Secretary Upper Merion Historical Commission.
The Historical Commission shall record the history of Upper Merion Township and its significant architectural and historic sites. Among other duties, the commission will advise the Board of Supervisors on matters of historic preservation and planning in relation to the Township’s Comprehensive Plan. The commission will also develop ideas for historical education programs within the Township.


https://www.umtownship.org/government/authorities-boards-commissions/historical-commission/

 

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Episode Transcript

00;00;00;00 - 00;00;27;26 Unknown Hello and welcome to this edition of Community Connections. I'm your host, Chuck Krohn. Today, our topic will be the Upper Merion Historical Commission. And from the historical Commission is the secretary, Matt McCafferty. Matt, welcome to the program. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. Well, there is a commission now here in Upper Merion Township. How was it derived and how did you get involved with it? 00;00;27;29 - 00;00;57;22 Unknown So I always tell the story from my perspective. I moved here in 2016 and I wanted to help out the township that I was a new resident of. So snooping around the website over a few years, I stumbled upon the newly created Historical Commission around the end of 2019, and I applied and I got an interview with two of the supervisors and they said, You know what, Matt, you're on. 00;00;57;22 - 00;01;22;13 Unknown So in January of 2020, we had our first meeting and the rest is history is as they say. And that happened during the pandemic, too. So were there any, like curveballs and, you know, tough fences to hurdle? I will have to admit, it was quite the challenge trying to get a newly formed organization up and running during a pandemic. 00;01;22;14 - 00;01;43;19 Unknown Everything shut down. It's hard to have those interpersonal relationships and go in to meet people. So we did limp out of the gate a little bit in, struggled a little bit in the beginning. But we've got our our feet underneath us, and we've been running ever since. So that you're in this commission, you're new to it. It's a newly formed commission as well. 00;01;43;22 - 00;02;06;14 Unknown What was it like when you got to meet everyone that was part of the commission with you? And by the way, how many people are on the commission? So when we first started, we did have a full commission of seven. And as you can imagine, during the pandemic, a lot of challenges for various reasons with folks. So we lost some members of, you know, resigning and stuff like that or moving out of the area. 00;02;06;15 - 00;02;32;11 Unknown So now we're down to we're down to four members. That's Pat Jordan, Tina Smith and Laura. I'm going to mess up her name. Laura Alden, ten. Very good. Thank you. Yeah, sorry, Laura, but that's and myself. So there's the four of us, and we're a pretty tight knit group. You know, we all bring our own expertise in different areas. 00;02;32;13 - 00;02;59;26 Unknown Pat is our face of the franchise, very personable. She does a lot of great things in the community. Laura is a doctor in some sort of archeology. I think it has to do with class again. Laura, you know, really smart person. So she has the the technical expertise. And then Tina Smith, she is one of the most well organized, sharp people that that I know. 00;03;00;03 - 00;03;19;15 Unknown And I'm glad to have her on on the commission. She keeps us straight on the straight and narrow. Right. So and then there's me, the wild card. Yeah. That's why you drew the short straw to be here. That's right. That's right. I just do what I'm told. So I'm the secretary on the scribe. And, yeah, so I bring that to the table. 00;03;19;15 - 00;03;45;23 Unknown I've taken the. Taken the minutes. So the four of you do get together often. How's it how's that set up and how are topics discussed? Like who comes up with the ideas? Yeah. So we meet the third Tuesday of every month of at the township building in the Henderson Room. It's right near the library. So, you know, if you have nothing to do around 7:00 on the third Tuesday, please stop on by. 00;03;45;23 - 00;04;10;07 Unknown Say hi. But usually the topics that we discuss are either community driven. You know, somebody from the community brings it to our attention. Maybe the supervisors have something that they'd like as the research or dig into, but mainly it's whatever pops into our little heads by speaking to other societies, commissions, organizations within the area to see what they're doing. 00;04;10;07 - 00;04;30;26 Unknown And, you know, either attaching ourselves to help them out or, you know, coming up with their own ideas. So someone watching this program who might have an idea, they could pop into that meeting and say, hey, I just want to give you a little note. Maybe this is something you should delve into. That's what I would strongly encourage that, because then we're going to try to hustle you this way and be a member. 00;04;30;29 - 00;04;48;07 Unknown But yeah, if you just have an idea and you don't want to be a member, it's fine. Just you can reach out, reach out to us any time or find us here in the in the township building. So if you're a history buff, this would be a good opportunity. I mean, I I'm I'm not formally educated in history, but I have a passion for it ever since I was a kid. 00;04;48;09 - 00;05;03;27 Unknown So if you have that that same passion or if you're, you know, you feel like you didn't go to school for it so you don't belong. That did that out of your head. If you have a passion for history and you want to help the community, come on by. We'll be happy to have you. Yeah. And we should take note. 00;05;03;27 - 00;05;28;23 Unknown So there's a commission and there's a six side society. But you guys work and collaborate together very well. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. So we go above and beyond to collaborate with a lot of the organizations in the area from the Valley Forge Alliance to the King of Prussia and sister of Historical Society and other other groups, even some of the local schools we try to reach out to and get their involvement. 00;05;28;23 - 00;05;55;13 Unknown But this this particular commission we rely heavily on, on collaboration. And we try to bring some folks together, especially with our big project we're working on with the semi Quincentennial coming up, we're trying to build a coalition of the willing and come up with some great ideas and events as we get towards 2026. So the tongue twister, the semi Quincentennial, that's 250. 00;05;55;18 - 00;06;17;16 Unknown That's right. That's right. I luckily my fellow commissioners have worked with my linguistics to be able to for me to spit that out. You know, a lot of it after one year it rolls off the tongue. So I mean, obviously that's a big event, 250 years. There must be a lot of things in the works or ideas being thrown around. 00;06;17;22 - 00;06;50;16 Unknown Yeah, I'm going to plug the one the one idea that we we came up with a few years ago, I think it is now that looks like it's gaining some traction. And that is the march to Valley Forge. We'd like to commemorate that in some way. So the idea is working with, like I said, the local alliances and societies and commissions and the Valley Forge Park and come up with a reenactment of the march of the two Valley Forge for the encampment. 00;06;50;19 - 00;07;15;24 Unknown And we want to the idea is to have like multigenerational representations of re-enactors, veterans, you know, anybody that wants to be involved to get on the route. We haven't we haven't come up with the route or the tie or all that stuff. We're still working out the logistics. But just speaking with the superintendent over at Valley Forge, he was very interested in that idea. 00;07;15;26 - 00;07;36;27 Unknown Some of the other alliances and societies and commissions are very interested in the idea, so we're excited about that. I think it'll be a great representation of Upper Merion to have that that that march coming through our town and have a strong showing. So we're really proud of that. We we hope we can get it executed. It looks like it's trending in the right direction. 00;07;36;27 - 00;08;03;26 Unknown So if anybody has ever done a march before our parade of this type and has some some background in that, you know, the third Tuesday, 7:00, come and meet us, help us out. Well, the question that I would have with that is, are they going to try to wear the recreation of the garb and the whole outfit? That's what we're hoping for, because I know that there's a lot of folks that do the reenactment over the park already. 00;08;03;27 - 00;08;32;16 Unknown Right. So I think that we can hustle them in pretty easily. It's just going to get other people involved that I, I was really envisioning like, you know, having some active duty folks, maybe the Marine Corps silent drill team can come along with us, some veteran organizations and and our re-enactors. So hopefully we have a big long crew of big army marching through the town and and celebrating the semi quincentennial together. 00;08;32;16 - 00;08;50;16 Unknown Yeah. Because then you're going to have somebody who's planning this is going to be concerned about, all right, where are we going to get all these guys? Some more people is going to be crazy, right? That's right. But it will be a neat event. I I think it's a great idea. I know logistically, it's you know, it's probably going to be a little challenging by the like I said, a coalition of the willing. 00;08;50;16 - 00;08;51;14 Unknown We should be able to get it 00;08;51;14 - 00;08;52;11 Unknown get it together. 00;08;52;11 - 00;09;17;13 Unknown Matt, one idea that came through when we were talking about everything that takes place in the commission was the King of Prussia in when that got moved back in the day, that was something that you're even though the commission was informed then they would have been involved with absolutely was a tremendous accomplishment to getting that whole building into the spot that it is now amazing accomplishment. 00;09;17;16 - 00;09;44;12 Unknown But we are engaged with the chamber over there that is the operator over there of the King of Prussia and is on the National Register. So there is some grant funding and different revenue streams that we're trying to unlock for them collaborating with the state of Pennsylvania and the historical department. Lack of a better term, right? A nice lady by the name of Meghan McNish. 00;09;44;17 - 00;10;04;08 Unknown We've joined those two parties together to try to get some funding for the building, for the upkeep and the maintenance, anything they're entitled to. So we are working hand in hand with the King of Prussia in even though we we didn't exist there, take place in the original move, the original movement. But we are actively involved with the King of Prussia in trying to help them out. 00;10;04;16 - 00;10;25;21 Unknown But there are other projects that you're dealing with at this time. Can you share a few of them? Yeah. Old Swedes church over there on the other side of the township. They have a the church has been there for hundreds of years and we are trying to actively get them on the national registry. There's some challenges and hurdles that go along with that. 00;10;25;23 - 00;10;46;16 Unknown But we have like I'll keep on saying we have a coalition of the willing that's going to help them get them across the finish line to unlock some funding for that great organization and that beautiful building. And they also have a very interesting cemetery, too, with folks that have been buried from the American Revolution all the way up until recent. 00;10;46;21 - 00;11;07;27 Unknown So Anna morris Holstein is actually buried there as well. It's just a fascinating site. Yeah. Yeah. And that's something that I'm curious about. The placards that you see, is it a tough process to get that put in place? Sure, yeah. You know, anything that deals with a bureaucracy, you know, there's a lot of a lot of hoops to jump through. 00;11;07;29 - 00;11;28;11 Unknown And I understand why, you know, you don't want to just put markers everywhere. So a lot of fact finding and documentation that goes along with it. But I'm proud to say that the commission and working with the Valley Forge Alliance and the King of Prussia Historical Society, you know, we all came together and we got the documentation that we need. 00;11;28;11 - 00;11;50;17 Unknown We submitted it with the state and got a marker for the A morris Holstein property that's on Henderson Road. Is there a map that lays out all the placards in Upper Merion Township? Yeah I, I could, I don't really know. I think there might be something on the state side that you could you can navigate, but that's something we, we might have to start working on. 00;11;50;18 - 00;12;14;09 Unknown Yeah, because that'd be pretty cool if you had a map laid out and you could number them and say you could, you could hit it like, I'm looking for a tour. Yeah. All the plaques that are because it's obviously a very historical area with Valley Forge being so close by. That's right. So we're working on multiple properties to try to get that recognition and, and get some funding for them to get them rolling in the right direction. 00;12;14;12 - 00;12;38;23 Unknown Now, being a part of the commission, are you also connected with the schools? We actually just reached out to the Upper Merion Areas School District looking for student members. We actually have a nice young man that's in the high school right now that should certainly be anointed to be on the commission, not his name's Rich. Real good, good, good kids. 00;12;38;23 - 00;13;03;03 Unknown So we're using him to hustle some of his friends to become members, you know, and get actively involved in in history. So, yeah, we're actively working with the schools. We do reach out to the universities in the area and their history departments. You know, anybody that's willing to help us out or give us some information to help us learn, you know, we're all about it. 00;13;03;03 - 00;13;27;23 Unknown So if you know anybody, you know any students, send them our way. Now, when you're putting some of these ideas together, are you allowed to share what might be coming down the pike with the commission? Yeah. Yeah. So the like I said before, the the main drive the last couple of months going into 2026 is the semi Quincentennial. 00;13;27;25 - 00;13;52;26 Unknown Right. So that's like our, we're laser focused on that trying to build a coalition together with Valley Forge Park and the superintendent over there to get all kinds of events leading up to it, not just in 2026, but 2025, 2026, 2027 and beyond. So that's pretty cool. Yeah. So if somebody went to your website, what what would they how would they navigate? 00;13;52;26 - 00;14;12;21 Unknown Where would you tell them to go? So if you go on the township website and in the search path, just make it easier for everybody to just put in historical commission. It'll direct you to our page. It gives the list the names of the folks that are on it. I also want to make a plug to Dave Dugger. 00;14;12;24 - 00;14;38;03 Unknown He's our board liaison, our staff board liaison. He works for the township and he he really does a tremendous, tremendous work for us, getting the information onto the website, our minutes and our agendas, helping us organize the events that we go to over Northview Farms, be at the community fair. So he's a great addition to the team. We do. 00;14;38;03 - 00;15;00;03 Unknown We really appreciate him. The other person I want to get a quick plug, too, is Greg Phillips. He's our board liaison. He's one of the supervisors. He's always providing great insight, giving us really good ideas. But all those folks, you can see the list of names on the township website. It also gives you a little area where you can apply to be on on the commission. 00;15;00;05 - 00;15;24;09 Unknown And currently we have information about the powerhouse and another an older historic building that's been in the township for God. I wish some of my colleagues were here a very long time. Yeah, very long times. Right over near near the mall. So we're working on that project too. And you can learn more information about that powerhouse on on the website. 00;15;24;12 - 00;15;59;07 Unknown So when they look at the powerhouse, for instance, will you be involved in the restoration if it needs be, or is it more of the funding end of it? Right now it's it's kind of a it's a it's in flux. We just kind of started putting our eye towards it. But the main focus would be to advise the board of supervisors and anything they need as far as funding or getting knowledge out to the public about the history of the House, build some support. 00;15;59;09 - 00;16;22;26 Unknown But yeah, ultimately it would be an effort to try to try to restore it with with any grant funding that's available. Yeah. And you mentioned the Board of Supervisors in your liaison. Did they ask you to come to board meetings to speak on, on the Commission's behalf? Well, luckily for us, Greg Phillips does represent us really well. So we get to cut out. 00;16;22;26 - 00;16;41;29 Unknown We don't have to go to those meetings. Okay. So he comes to our meetings and gathers information about what we're working on and reports back to the board. So, yeah, he does a solid for us so we don't have to go to multiple meetings. Well, at least you get to watch it on television. That's right, That's it. So you can take notes and we chair. 00;16;41;29 - 00;16;59;28 Unknown We cheer to your Greg on that. Right. Thanks, Greg. Well, I was thinking that you're you're you're the scribe, basically. So you're you have to jot down everything that's taken place. So you should have a plethora of information on what's happening. You know, luckily, I write everything down because my memory is terrible, but that's what makes me a good scribe. 00;16;59;28 - 00;17;22;22 Unknown I guess that is that's a good thing. It's well being the secretary. So you have the president, vice president, Secretary. And there is there actually a treasurer on the board as well or. No, no, no, treasurer. We don't really have a need for it. We do submit a budget to the Board of Supervisors for arts and crafts, signage, stuff like that, for us to go out in the public and do some outreach. 00;17;22;26 - 00;17;35;08 Unknown Matt, I know when you're dealing with history, a lot of times collaboration has to come into play because there are so many different groups, especially here in Montgomery County. Are there a number of groups that you are currently collaborating with? 00;17;35;08 - 00;17;58;13 Unknown Yeah, I'm going to give a few plugs and shout outs to our friends over the Internet from their historical commission, the Valley Forge Park and the Rangers and the superintendent over there. Great. The Daughters of the Revolution, the Valley Forge Alliance, and of course, the King of Prussia Historical Society. That's our like I like to call our coalition of the willing to get things done. 00;17;58;13 - 00;18;32;14 Unknown And they've been a wealth of information. They're great people. Now, do you all ever get together in one room or is that something that you're working on? That's what we're working towards. ROSE the superintendent over at Valley Forge Park, she has a vision of getting the stakeholders in the area in a room together over Valley Forge Park, as we all collaborate to come up with events for the December Quincentennial then that group will, you know, get this march moving forward. 00;18;32;17 - 00;18;54;08 Unknown That's that's the goal along with other other projects. But we're really excited about this march, you know. So if you're excited about it, everybody out there is excited about it. Reach out to us, you know, come to our meetings, 7:00 on the third Tuesday of each month and show us, you know, come and give us your ideas. And we're really excited about that. 00;18;54;08 - 00;19;21;11 Unknown So the more the merrier. Now, you mentioned a number of groups. Is there one group that you seem to be in more in line with, like I think just naturally the King of Prussia historical society? There's members on the commission that are members of the society, you know, flowing back and forth over the years. So on a, you know, the routine on a routine basis, we're reaching out to them, collaborating in any way we can to support them. 00;19;21;17 - 00;19;39;23 Unknown They're a great organization and anything that we could do to help them, we're happy to do. Yeah. The reason why I ask is because obviously the more people you get involved, the better it is. And you're talking about a different township. They have a historical group as well, so they share ideas and say, Hey, this might be something that's been working for us. 00;19;40;00 - 00;20;08;29 Unknown Would this work for that commission? That's exactly right. Things, trials and tribulations, I guess you could say in any organization, you know, Hey, have you tried this? Have you tried that program and some of the more established commissions in the area that have been around for a very long time have already done it so we don't have to reinvent the wheel and learn from their their challenges and their opportunities and incorporated it into our commission so we don't make the same mistakes. 00;20;09;01 - 00;20;39;27 Unknown So they've been a wealth of information. Same thing with Radnor Township. Their commission over there just really good saw the folks that have helped us along the last four years. So if someone had like a historical home or property, would they would you recommend them to contact the commission? How would they go about doing so? Because I know nowadays the placards or if you own a historical home, there might be I don't know if there's an advantage to it or not, but I know it's like some towns you can't do anything to the property. 00;20;39;29 - 00;20;59;02 Unknown Yeah, I don't know if it's the same here and no, it's nothing like that. What we we focus on is preservation, of course, but we're not, we're not restrictive. Right. So none of the residents have to worry about having to come in front of the historical commission to approve a nail or anything like that. We don't do that. 00;20;59;08 - 00;21;20;17 Unknown But what we we do do is we are working on a project of historic houses or or older houses. They don't even have to be notable then that somebody notable lived there. Anything but just the architecture of some of these homes in our area that, you know, as as early as like 1600, you know, that have been around. 00;21;20;17 - 00;21;42;00 Unknown As a matter of fact, our chairperson lives in a beautiful log cabin, a cabin towards the Wayne side. I would say, of the township. Her house is beautiful and I wish she was here. I always forget the date, but let's just say that like the 17th century it was built, if I recall correctly, by a Welshman. But it's a beautiful house. 00;21;42;00 - 00;22;09;00 Unknown And, you know, we just want to bring attention to those beautiful properties in the township and and anything that we could do to facilitate, you know, grants and funding, either private or governmental, we'll do that. But yeah, we're working on identifying some of the more unique, unique properties in our township. How about historical districts? Is that something that you're looking into as well? 00;22;09;00 - 00;22;38;16 Unknown Yeah, it was. It was floated by our board liaison, Gregg Phillips. I thought it was a pretty good idea. That particular area of the township in Wayne that I'm talking about has a lot of older, older properties, beautiful properties. So that's been floated of doing, doing it, a district just, you know, some signage and call it out. Nothing restrictive or anything like that, just celebrating the uniqueness of the area and how old it is right now, how long it's been around. 00;22;38;18 - 00;22;55;20 Unknown Yeah. And he's the one that attends your meetings on a consistent basis, right. Yeah. So he's coming up with some good ideas and you guys have to run with it. That's right. That's right. You know, it's not it's not just a take relationship, you know, Greg helps us out. He has a lot of good ideas. He has a passion for it, and it's definitely appreciated. 00;22;55;27 - 00;23;27;16 Unknown You know, that's one of his one of his better ideas. Now, I know obviously cemeteries come with a lot of history, but how do you have an idea of how many historical cemeteries are located in the area? You know, my colleagues are going to kill me for not knowing. And off the top of my head, especially since we're working on this project where we actually have a display here at the township building in the atrium there of some of the cemeteries that are in our township that have been around since the revolution. 00;23;27;18 - 00;23;50;14 Unknown And so very interesting folks that are buried there just to see a of a tombstone of somebody that served in the Civil War or the Revolutionary War is just an amazing in and in and of itself. So we're trying to draw some attention to these cemeteries that you drive past every day in the township, don't really think twice about like who's buried there. 00;23;50;16 - 00;24;09;24 Unknown So we're trying to bring attention to that and dig into who's buried there and maybe do some profiles and stuff. It's preliminary project, but just the little bit of time that we've been engaged in it, it's just been eye opening. Yeah, you figure every Halloween that'd be something that you guys could promote, You know, the Halloween and those two seem to go hand in hand. 00;24;09;24 - 00;24;35;16 Unknown It just, you know, and and some of the some of the churches and organizations there you do some some of those projects. So I'll say that probably a good idea for us that like weasel in their name do it. So I think we're on the track to do that and just to get more people involved in donating to some of these cemeteries because, you know, they're all there's, you know, not a lot of funding that goes into these things. 00;24;35;16 - 00;25;19;27 Unknown So doing some events for these local cemeteries and organizations is high on our priority list, especially around this time. yeah. Well, when you look when you look at historical commissions, what's normally the break down today? Break it down like, say, churches, cemeteries, homes, plots of land, is there a formula that you look at? So the mission statement, Yeah, I'm not going to recite it perfectly, but it's basically the preservation drawing attention to to historic properties within the township and just inherently, you know, churches and cemeteries, you know, houses, those kind of those kind of structures are the first thing that come to mind. 00;25;20;04 - 00;25;45;02 Unknown But it's been choose your own adventure, really for us on the commission. But we were focused on is getting the knowledge out there to the public of let the public know what what we have in this in this township there's a lot of rich history and just getting the information out there and hopefully getting a lot of people engaged and hopefully that generates some funds for some of these some of these properties. 00;25;45;05 - 00;26;06;20 Unknown So we'll see how it goes. But that's the main drive is some of the more fun, the fun part of it, right? You know, a building and stuff like that, you know, it's tangible. You can see it, you know, hey, there it is. Right? So that's that's been the the strategy so that as we wind the program down, some of them watching this program, they want to get involved with the commission. 00;26;06;20 - 00;26;28;00 Unknown How would they go about doing so? Reach out to us. Reach out to us. You can reach out to me. My name is Matt McCaffrey. Matt McCaffrey at Comcast dot Net. You can just email me. You can go on to the township website. It's probably the easiest way to do it. Apply online. There's applications for the citizens boards. 00;26;28;02 - 00;26;45;25 Unknown I'm going to do the T plug Historical Commission. If you're interested in in history, don't don't worry about if you're not educated in and everything like that. If you have a passion and you want to preserve what we got and help out the board of supervisors, advise the board of supervisors. You know, we're the we're the commission for you. 00;26;46;01 - 00;27;03;28 Unknown We have a lot of fun. We're we're a tight knit group with all of our members. We have a lot of fun. We're out there in the community. And, you know, the more the more the merrier for us. So come on down to the the third, third, third Tuesday of each month, 7:00 here in the Henderson Room at the township building. 00;27;03;28 - 00;27;25;08 Unknown We're happy to have you. Come on. Come on. And hopefully we get get we can get some new members. Awesome. Matt, it was great having you as a guest here today. Our guest today has been Matt McCafferty from the Upper Merion Historical Commission from all of us here at UMG Television. I'm Chuck Carroll and thank you for watching.

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