2014 News & Events Archive

Historical Society programs, events, and news from 2014

Star Spangled Banner Exhibit

September 14, 2014 through January 15, 2015

On September 13 and 14, the Historical Society of Dauphin County held a weekend celebration for the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner, including an opening reception for our new exhibit entitled, Star Spangled Banner: Harrisburg's Connection to our National Anthem. The exhibit explores Harrisburg in 1814 and the connection of local veterans George J. Heisely and Ferdinand Durang to the national anthem and its first performance. Funding for the exhibit and anniversary events was provided by the Dauphin County Commissioners.

The exhibit is included as part of the Mansion tour. Tours are available Monday through Thursday at 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00 PM and on the second Sunday of each month at 1:00 PM. The Research Library of the HSDC will also be open from 1:00 to 4:00 PM Monday through Thursday and the second Sunday of each month. Tour admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for children. Free parking is available in the lot behind the mansion.

Christmas at the Mansion

December 14, 2014 - 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Santa will be coming to the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion on December 14th! The mansion will be open from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Come and see the mansion beautifully decorated for the holidays, including a special exhibit of antique toys. Light refreshments will be served, and holiday crafts and museum shop items will be available for purchase. Admission is a $5 suggested donation for adults, and children 12 and under are Free. It will be holiday fun for the whole family!

Holiday Tour of the Harris-Cameron Mansion
and the PA National Fire Museum

December 13, 2014 - 10:00 am

The Historical Society of Dauphin County and PA National Fire Museum present a Holiday Tour on Saturday, December 13. The tour starts at 10 am at the Harris-Cameron Mansion, 219 South Front Street, Harrisburg. The mansion will be beautifully decorated for the holidays, including a special exhibit of antique toys. After the tour of the Mansion, visitors will head to the PA National Fire Museum at 1820 N. 4th Street, Harrisburg to enjoy a tour and display of toy trains.

A special admission of $5 will be charged at each museum. Space is limited, so please RSVP by calling the Historical Society at 233-3462. There is also free parking at both locations.

Deck the Halls: A Dickens Celebration

December 9, 2014 - 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm

On Tuesday, December 9th, the National Landmark John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion will again be the setting for the region's premier holiday celebration and recognition event, the Historical Society of Dauphin County's 20th annual Deck the Halls, "A Dickens Celebration".

Deck the Halls is THE major fundraising event for the Historical Society of Dauphin County. Income from the event is crucial to supporting our educational programs and research archives, and to maintaining the National Landmark Harris-Cameron Mansion, built in 1766 and entrusted to our care since 1941.

This year the Historical Society will present the 2014 John Harris Award to Ruthann Hubbert Kemper, for her commitment to our community that will be part of Harrisburg history for generations to come. Ruthann served as Executive Director of the Capitol Preservation Committee from 1982 until her retirement in 2010. Since assuming a seat on the board of directors of the Historical Society of Dauphin County in 2012, Ruthann has directed over $400,000 worth of restoration projects for the exterior of the Harris-Cameron Mansion.

Tickets are $90, $125 and $250 and are partially tax deductible. The evening will include music by Joe Trojack, wine and beer by the Vineyard at Hershey, and heavy hors d'oeuvres, and desserts by Flinchy's. Please R.S.V.P. by calling 717-233-3462 or e-mailing office@dauphincountyhistory.org.

Thank You Deck the Halls Sponsors

175th Anniversary of the Whig National Convention

December 6, 2014 - 2:00 pm

At Zion Lutheran Church

The Historical Society of Dauphin County and Zion Lutheran Church (ELCM) will hold a commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the Whig National Convention at Zion Lutheran Church, 15 S. 4th Street in Harrisburg, on Saturday, December 6, 2014, starting at 2:00 pm.

The Whigs were a political party of the mid-1800's and the chief rival of the Democratic Party. In anticipation of the Presidential Election of 1840, the Whigs determined to hold their nominating convention in Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania. The newly-rebuilt Zion Lutheran Church (the original building was destroyed by fire in 1837) was the largest building at the time in Harrisburg that could accommodate the convention. From December 4 through December 7, the delegates met to select their candidates. It was the first national party convention to have more than one candidate contending for the presidential nomination. After parliamentary maneuvers and back room wheeling and dealing the convention nominated William Henry Harrison of Ohio for President and John Tyler of Virginia for Vice President. Their slogan was "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," referring to William Henry Harrison's victory over the Shawnee leader Tecumseh near the river Tippecanoe in Ohio in 1811. Harrison was again victorious in 1840, as he was elected to office over the Democratic incumbent Martin Van Buren. Harrison served only 32 days, becoming the first President to die in office.

The celebration of this historic event will begin with a presentation by local historian, Howard J. Parker, who is currently writing a book on the election of 1840 and the pivotal role central Pennsylvania played in that campaign. A tour of the second-floor sanctuary will follow, which will include both patriotic and seasonal music performed by Zion's Church Choir. The event will conclude around 4:00pm with a reception and additional period music. Numerous displays of historic items specific to the Whig campaign, the Harrisburg Whig convention, and mid-19th century life will be available for viewing throughout the afternoon.

The event is free and open to the public. Parking validation is available for the Chestnut Street garage.

Author Michael Lisicky to speak
on his new book: Shop Pomeroy's First

November 18, 2014 - 6:30 pm

Enjoy an evening reliving and reminiscing one of downtown Harrisburg's greatest institutions, Pomeroy's. In celebration of his latest book, 'Shop Pomeroy's First,' noted department store historian Michael Lisicky will tell the story of Pomeroy's in Harrisburg, from its humble 1878 beginnings to the downtown closure in 1990. Come share your own stories and spend an evening at Pomeroy's one final time. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

"I enjoyed this look at a slice of our local economic and cultural history and as a lifelong resident of Harrisburg it brought back memories for me. I think the readers of Harrisburg Magazine will feel the same way." - Harvey Freedenberg, Harrisburg Magazine.

Michael Lisicky has been credited as a nationally recognized department store "historian," "lecturer," "expert," "guru," "aficionado," "junkie" and "maven" by several major newspapers such as the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Boston Globe, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the Dallas Morning News, the Washington Times, the Wilmington New Journal, and the Baltimore Sun. He is the author of several bestselling books, including Wanamaker's: Meet Me at the Eagle, Hutzler's: Where Baltimore Shops, and Woodward and Lothrop: A Store Worthy of the Nation's Capital. His book, Gimbels Has It!, was cited as "one of the freshest reads of 2011" by National Public Radio's Morning Edition program. Mr. Lisicky has given lecturers at such locations as the New York Public Library, the Boston Public Library, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the DC Public Library, the 2012 Wanamaker Organ Centennial Week celebration in Philadelphia, and at New York Fashion Week. He has also served as a historical consultant for various film, commercial, and educational projects. He has been featured in Fortune magazine, Investor's Business Daily, National Public Radio, and on CBS's Sunday Morning television program. Mr. Lisicky resides in Baltimore, where he is an oboist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and a master's degree candidate in museum studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Halloween Ghost Tours of the Harris-Cameron Mansion

October 31, 2014 - 6:00 pm and 7:30 pm

Enjoy a spooky visit to the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion at 219 South Front Street in Harrisburg. There will be guided Ghost Tours through the mansion on October 31st at 6:00 pm and 7:30 pm. The first tour will be suitable for families and children, and the second tour is recommended for adults. The guide will tell ghost stories of old Harrisburg and give visitors a rare peek of the mansion by candlelight. Admission is $15 for adults ($10 for members of the Historical Society). Children 12 and under are $5. Space is limited. Please call 233-3462 for reservations.

View an Animoto video for this event

Second Sunday at the Mansion
Historical Societies of Dauphin County Information Fair

October 12, 2014 - 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

The Historical Society of Dauphin County will host a gathering of Dauphin County historical societies at the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion on October 12, 2014 from 1-4 pm. Historical Societies from across the county will present information on their resources, exchange ideals, and meet with others who share an interest in local history.

A tour of the Harris - Cameron Mansion will be offered at 1:00 PM. A suggested donation of $5 is requested. The Research Library of the HSDC will also be open 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Free parking is available in the lot behind the mansion.

View an Animoto video for this event

Smithsonian Museum Day and
Book Signing with Local Author Todd Mealy

September 27, 2014

The Harris-Cameron Mansion will open its doors free of charge on Saturday September 27, 2014, as part of Smithsonian magazine's ninth annual Museum Day Live! A nationwide event, Museum Day Live! offers free admission to visitors presenting a Museum Day Live! ticket at a participating museum or cultural institution. Guided tours will be available at 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm. Tours will include the new exhibit, "Star Spangled Banner: Harrisburg's Connection to our National Anthem."

Also, Harrisburg author Todd Mealy will be signing his new book from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Legendary Locals of Harrisburg, shares the stories of unique individuals and groups, past and present, who have had a lasting impact on the community throughout its history. Vintage images coupled with facts and anecdotes culled by local author Todd Mealy reveal the fascinating history of legendary locals in Harrisburg. Located in the center of Pennsylvania rests the commonwealth's capital city, and Harrisburg residents have always used their determination, athleticism and service to give it the capital reputation it deserves.

The Museum Day Live! ticket will be available to download beginning in August at www.smithsonianmag.com/accounts/register/. Visitors who present the Museum Day Live! ticket will gain free entrance for two at participating venues for one day only. One ticket is permitted per household, per email address. For more information about Museum Day Live! 2014 and a list of participating museums and cultural institutions, please visit www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/venues/.

A Star Spangled Celebration!

September 13 & 14, 2014

The Historical Society of Dauphin County welcomes you to a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner! Please join us for a weekend celebration honoring Harrisburg native George J. Heisely and York native Ferdinand Durang's connection to the national anthem and its first performance in 1814. Funding provided by the Dauphin County Commissioners.

View an Animoto video for this event


Saturday, September 13

Exhibit Opening and Reception

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Cost $50 ($45 for HSDC members)

RSVP by September 8

An evening of celebration with the opening of the exhibit, "Star Spangled Banner: Harrisburg's Connection to our National Anthem," and a reception with early American music, heavy hors d'oeuvres, and wine and beer provided by The Vineyard & Brewery at Hershey.


Sunday, September 14

Presentation and Flag Ceremony

1:00 pm

Free

The Harris-Cameron Mansion will be open from 11 am to 6 pm for Harrisburg's Gallery Walk, including the new Star Spangled Banner exhibit. At 1:00 pm we will gather around the flag pole for a historical presentation on the Star Spangled Banner anniversary and Harrisburg's George J. Heisely. The singing of the National Anthem and raising of a reproduction 15 star flag will follow.

George J. Heisely (1789-1880) of Harrisburg and Ferdinand Durang of York claimed to have put Francis Scott Key's famous poem to music on the way to Baltimore in 1814. The story goes that Heisely had a flute and songbook with him at their encampment with the First Regiment of the Pennsylvania Militia's First Brigade. He worked with Durang, an actor and singer, to find a suitable song for the poem. They chose the song "To Anacreon in Heaven" and fit the poem to music. Durang sang the anthem for the first time at the Holliday Street Theater in Baltimore to great acclaim. The role of these men in the creation of the national anthem is largely forgotten. Mary Barnum Bush Houck, a founder of the Harrisburg Symphony, wrote and performed a play about Durang and Heisely based on her research into the first singing of the Star Spangled Banner. The play was performed for a heritage festival in Harrisburg in 1949 and the script can be found at the Pennsylvania State Archives.

HSDC Participating in Blue Star Museums Program

Memorial Day thru Labor Day

The Historical Society of Dauphin County is one of more than 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to military personnel and their families this summer.

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to the nation's active duty military personnel including National Guard and Reserve and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2014. Leadership support has been provided by MetLife Foundation through Blue Star Families. The program provides families an opportunity to enjoy the nation's cultural heritage and learn more about their new communities after a military move. The complete list of participating museums is available at arts.gov/national/blue-star-museums.

Annual July 4th Festival and Re-enactment

July 4, 2014 - 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM, and 1:00 PM

The Historical Society of Dauphin County will present re-enactor David Biser as John Harris, Jr. in publicreadings of the Declaration of Independence on Friday, July 4, from the porch of the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion at 219 S. Front Street, Harrisburg. Readings will take place on the hour at 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., noon, and 1:00 p..m. There is no charge to hear the readings and free parking is available behind the mansion.

Rep. Patty Kim, of the 103rd Legislative District, will open the event with remarks at 10:00 a.m. and, following the Reading of the Declaration, will read a story to children in the mansion.

Tours of the Harris-Cameron Mansion will be offered after each reading at a special price of $4.00. Children six and under will be admitted free. Any police, fire, or first responder personnel and their families will be admitted free.

Biser, a Harrisburg resident, has been a Colonial-era re-enactor for 12 years and has been bringing the persona of Harris alive for the past several years. Revolutionary War re-enactors will occupy the mansion grounds as they portray daily life during the struggle for American Independence. On the grounds of the mansion, the society will organize a used book sale; museum store sales; refreshments; and children's face painting, games, and activities.

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve the Declaration of Independence inside the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall). The Declaration was printed during the late afternoon by John Dunlap, a local Philadelphia printer. Congress ordered that copies be sent out and that it be proclaimed in each of the new United States. By the next morning, copies were on their way to all thirteen states by horseback.

Four days later, on July 8th, the citizens of Philadelphia were summoned to the State House Yard by the bells of the city. At 12:00 noon, Colonel John Nixon publicly read the Declaration of Independence for the first time. When a copy arrived at Harrisburg, city founder John Harris, Jr. read it to the assembled crowd from the porch of his house along the Susquehanna River.

HSDC Annual Meeting

June 25, 2014 - 5:30 PM

The Historical Society of Dauphin County Annual Membership Meeting will be held Wednesday, June 25 at 5:30 pm at the Harris-Cameron Mansion.

An Evening with John Harris Jr. at Mount Hill Tavern

June 22, 2014 - 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Please join the Historical Society of Dauphin County for an evening of Colonial food and Entertainments with John Harris Jr., portrayed by re-enactor Rev. David Biser, at Mount Hill Tavern in Harrisburg on Sunday June 22 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.

Tickets for the event are $50 and include light hors d'oeuvres. Cash Bar. Please RSVP by calling the Historical Society at 233-3462 by June 15.

The original stone building at Mount Hill Tavern was built in 1798 and was operated as a tavern from 1805 to 1821. Godfrey Fritchey, the original owner of Mount Hill, was an influential early settler of the Harrisburg area. Almost all of the building's interior and exterior is the original from 1798.

Reily Family Portraits Exhibit

January 27 thru June 26, 2014

A new exhibit of portraits and artifacts related to the Reily family of Harrisburg will open in the second floor exhibit rooms of the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion on January 27th, 2014. The exhibit will include 9 beautiful oil portraits, dating from the early to late nineteenth century, and related documents and artifacts. The majority of items on exhibit were recently donated to the Historical Society by Louise Reily Kunkel and Molly Kirkpatrick. The exhibit will trace the history of the Reily family and its role in the development of Harrisburg.

The exhibit is included as part of the mansion tour. Tours are available Monday through Thursday at 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00 PM and on the second Sunday of each month at 1:00 PM. Tour admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for children. Free parking is available in the lot behind the mansion.

Second Sunday Program: History Day Presentations

June 8, 2014 - 2:30 PM

The Second Sunday program on June 8 will feature presentations of History Day projects on a variety of topics by local high schools students. The presentations will begin at 2:30 pm at the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion, 219 South Front Street, Harrisburg.

National History Day (NHD) is a highly regarded academic program for elementary and secondary school students. Each year, more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide participate in the NHD contest. Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics' significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries. These products are entered into competitions in the spring at local, state and national levels where they are evaluated by professional historians and educators.

A tour of the Harris - Cameron Mansion will be offered at 1:00 PM. A suggested donation of $5is requested. Admission is Free for members of the Historical Society of Dauphin County. The Research Library of the HSDC will also be open 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Free parking is available in the lot behind the mansion.

Portraits Tour of the Mansion for HSDC Members

June 4, 2014 - 7:00 PM

Join Nancy Mendes, local artist and HSDC and Susquehanna Art Museum board member, for a tour of the beautiful historic portraits of the Mansion, including the Reily Family Portraits exhibit. Admission is free. HSDC membership is required. Not a member? Join today!

Tea with Maggie Cameron

May 10, 2014 - 2:30 PM

This Mother's Day weekend you are cordially invited to afternoon tea and an open house at the Harris-Cameron Mansion. The tea will be hosted by Margaretta "Maggie" Cameron, daughter of Simon Cameron, portrayed by re-enactor Elizabeth Dillon. Ms. Dillon will be sharing stories of the Cameron family's travels across Europe, as recorded in Margaretta's diary.

The Mansion passed to Margaretta after Simon Cameron died in 1889 at the age of 90. She was the widow of Richard Haldeman, a local newspaper publisher and Congressman. With her passing in 1915, the house was inherited by her son, Richard. He was the last of the Cameron family to live at the Mansion. His sister Elizabeth Wright donated the house and other family items to the Historical Society in 1941.

Tickets for the event are $20, ($15 for HSDC members). Seating is limited. Please call the Dauphin County Historical Society at 717-233-3462 or email office@dauphincountyhistory.org to reserve your seat. Membership information can be located at www.dauphincountyhistory.org/membership. Free parking is available in lots behind the mansion.

Spring Membership Drive

Now thru May 31, 2014

Incorporated in 1869, the mission of the Historical Society of Dauphin County is to collect, preserve, exhibit, publish, and promote interest in the history of Dauphin County for the education, enjoyment, and benefit of the public. Our members make it possible to fulfill this mission and preserve the National Historic Landmark Harris-Cameron Mansion for our community. We hope that you will consider joining us as a member during our Spring Membership Drive.

Members are the life blood of the Historical Society and keep us sustainable and engaged in our community. Memberships provide over 20% of operational income and much-needed financial support for everything the Society does. Membership income helps us to maintain and preserve the mansion and grounds; keep the Society's buildings open year round for tours and research; offer a growing number of public programs and exhibits; continue to collect and preserve the thousands of artifacts, documents and over a million photographs in our archives; offer new hands-on activities and tours for school children and internships for area students; and be a voice for preserving local history in our community. None of this can be done without the support of people like you.

Join during our Membership Drive by May 31 and you'll receive 2 additional guest passes to the mansion (a $16 value) for family and friends to use. You will also be entered to win a free rental of the mansion (regularly $150 an hour) for a private event such as a birthday party or bridal shower.

Download Spring Membership Drive Form

Download Full Membership Brochure

View Membership Benefits

Second Sunday Program: Andrew Curtin, Civil War Governor

April 13, 2014 - 2:30 PM

David Klinepeter will present Andrew Curtin, Civil War Governor.

Admission is free for members and by donation for non-members. Members and non-members alike are welcome to tour the mansion and visit the research library beginning at 1:00 pm. Free parking is available in lots behind the mansion.

Genealogy Workshop

March 22, 2014 - 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Kathy Hale, Librarian with the State Library of Pennsylvania, will lead a workshop for beginning genealogists from 10 am to 12 pm on Saturday, March 22 at the Historical Society of Dauphin County, 219 South Front Street, in Harrisburg.

The fee for the workshop is $15 per person ($10 for members of the Historical Society). Space is limited, so please call to reserve. Free parking is available in the lot behind the Harris-Cameron Mansion.

Kathy Hale is the Supervisor for Public Services and the Regional Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) Advisor for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. She had worked for the State Library for fourteen years. Ms. Hale has been part of many projects in her tenure at the State Library including government publications coordinator, digitization project manager, and reference librarian both real and virtual. Kathy attained her M.L.S. from Clarion University in 1994. She worked in two different engineering firms in Pennsylvania and as a reference librarian in a public library in Middletown, PA before becoming Collection Management Librarian at the State Library of Pennsylvania. She attained her present position nine years ago as Regional Librarian of the Federal Depository Library Program to work with the over 56 Federal and 54 Pennsylvania Depositories located throughout the Commonwealth. Ms. Hale has been the primary coordinator for the teaching of services for the State Library as an adjunct instructor for the Office of Administration and The Department of Education's PDE Academy.

Second Sunday Program: Civil War Hallowed Ground Project and Website

March 9, 2014 - 2:30 PM

Matthew Pinsker, professor at Dickinson College, will speak about his work with the Civil War Hallowed Ground Project and Website on Sunday, March 9 at 2:30 pm at the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion, 219 South Front Street, Harrisburg.

A tour of the Mansion will be offered at 1:00 PM. A suggested donation of $5 is requested. Admission is Free for members of the Historical Society of Dauphin County. The Research Library of the HSDC will also be open 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Free parking is available in the lot behind the mansion.

Second Sunday Program: The New Susquehanna Art Museum

February 9, 2014 - 2:30 PM

Jack Scott and Nancy Mendes, members of the SAM Board of Directors, will speak about the new Susquehanna Art Museum being built in downtown Harrisburg. The program begins at 2:30 PM on Sunday, February 9 at the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion, 219 South Front Street, Harrisburg.

A tour of the Harris - Cameron Mansion will be offered at 1:00 PM. A suggested donation of $5 is requested. Admission is free for members of the Historical Society of Dauphin County. The Research Library of the HSDC will also be open 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Free parking is available in the lot behind the mansion.

Second Sunday Program: Treasures of the National Civil War Museum

January 12, 2014 - 2:30 PM

Wayne Motts, Chief Executive Officer of the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, will speak about the Treasures of the National Civil War Museum at 2:30 PM on Sunday, January 12 at the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion, 219 South Front Street, Harrisburg.

The mission of The National Civil War Museum is to serve as a national center to inspire lifelong learning of the American Civil War through the preservation and balanced presentation of the American peoples struggles for survival and healing.

Admission is free for members and by donation for non-members. Members and non-members alike are welcome to tour the mansion and visit the research library beginning at 1:00 pm. Free parking is available in lots behind the mansion.