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State grant money helps historical groups make ends meet

Emily Harger | Tribune-Review - Ron Baraff, Director of Museums and Archives of Rivers of Steel, has been dedicated to the preservation of the post-industrial life of the Carrie Furnace, one of the last standing blast furnaces located in Swissvale that is open for tours and event for the public 'If you tear them all down, you're taking away our sense of place, our sense of self, and our history,' said Baraff, 'and you're not giving us the ability to tell the story of the 19th century.'
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Emily Harger | Tribune-Review</em></div>Ron Baraff, Director of Museums and Archives of Rivers of Steel, has been dedicated to the preservation of the post-industrial life of the Carrie Furnace, one of the last standing blast furnaces located in Swissvale that is open for tours and event for the public 'If you tear them all down, you're taking away our sense of place, our sense of self, and our history,' said Baraff, 'and you're not giving us the ability to tell the story of the 19th century.'
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review - Brenda Applegate, Executive Director of the Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation, stands in the Captain's Room of the Vicary Manasion in Freedom Thursday, June 12, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Heidi Murrin  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Brenda Applegate, Executive Director of the Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation, stands in the Captain's Room of the Vicary Manasion in Freedom Thursday, June 12, 2014.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review - A photo book from about 1860-1890 at the Vicary Mansion in Freedom Thursday, June 12, 2104.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Heidi Murrin  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>A photo book from about 1860-1890 at the Vicary Mansion in Freedom Thursday, June 12, 2104.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review - An 1890 loom at the Vicary Mansion in Freedom Thursday, June 12, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Heidi Murrin  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>An 1890 loom at the Vicary Mansion in Freedom Thursday, June 12, 2014.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review - View to the Ohio River, past the Conway Railyard, from a window of the Vicary Mansion in Freedom Thursday, June 12, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Heidi Murrin  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>View to the Ohio River, past the Conway Railyard, from a window of the Vicary Mansion in Freedom Thursday, June 12, 2014.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review - The ceiling in one of the rooms of the Vicary Mansion in Freedom still has the original cattle hair and clay paint Thursday, June 12, 2014. You can still see the brush stokes in some areas.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Heidi Murrin  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The ceiling in one of the rooms of the Vicary Mansion in Freedom still has the original cattle hair and clay paint Thursday, June 12, 2014.  You can still see the brush stokes in some areas.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review - Brenda Applegate, Executive Director of the Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation, laughs as she describes the lathe work, horse hair, and plaster structure in one of the rooms of the Vicary Mansion in Freedom Thursday, June 12, 2014. 'It even has a stink bug'.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Heidi Murrin  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Brenda Applegate, Executive Director of the Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation, laughs as she describes the lathe work, horse hair, and plaster structure in one of the rooms of the Vicary Mansion in Freedom Thursday, June 12, 2014.  'It even has a stink bug'.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review - Arthur Ellis, 94, of Upper St. Clair stands on 1925 Pittsburgh Railways 3756 'yellow car' trolly car at the Pennsylvania Trolly Museum in Washington on June 16, 2014. Ellis road the trolly car on its original voyage to the museum on Feb. 7, 1954.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Justin Merriman  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Arthur Ellis, 94, of Upper St. Clair stands on 1925 Pittsburgh Railways 3756 'yellow car' trolly car at the Pennsylvania Trolly Museum in Washington on June 16, 2014. Ellis road the trolly car on its original voyage to the museum on Feb. 7, 1954.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review - Scott Becker, executive director of the Pennsylvania Trolly Museum, sits in the 1917 Pittsburgh Railways 4398 trolly in Washington on June 16, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Justin Merriman  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Scott Becker, executive director of the Pennsylvania Trolly Museum, sits in the 1917 Pittsburgh Railways 4398 trolly in Washington on June 16, 2014.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review - Conductor Ron Boone sits next to Autumn Dosch, 31, of Harmony who brought the children she babysits, Sofia, 3, and Matteo Hardoby, 4, of Cannonsburg to the Pennsylvania Trolly Museum in Washington on June 16, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Justin Merriman  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Conductor Ron Boone sits next to Autumn Dosch, 31, of Harmony who brought the children she babysits, Sofia, 3,  and Matteo Hardoby, 4, of Cannonsburg to the Pennsylvania Trolly Museum in Washington on June 16, 2014.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review - Operator Brett Freithaler takes the 1922 New Orleans Public Service, Inc. 832 streetcar, which ran the Desire line in New Orleans, along the tracks at the Pennsylvania Trolly Museum in Washington on June 16, 2014. The streetcar was featured in Life Magazine's Dec. 15, 1947 issue for an article when Tennessee Williams’ play “A Streetcar Named Desire” debuted on Broadway.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Justin Merriman  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Operator Brett Freithaler takes the 1922 New Orleans Public Service, Inc. 832 streetcar, which ran the Desire line  in New Orleans, along the tracks at the Pennsylvania Trolly Museum in Washington on June 16, 2014. The streetcar was featured in Life Magazine's Dec. 15, 1947 issue for an article when Tennessee Williams’ play “A Streetcar Named Desire” debuted on Broadway.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review - Scott Becker, executive director of the Pennsylvania Trolly Museum, right, and volunteer Ron Boone, left, give a tour in the Trib Total Media Trolly Display Building at the Pittsburgh Trolly Museum on Monday, June 17, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Justin Merriman  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Scott Becker, executive director of the Pennsylvania Trolly Museum, right, and volunteer Ron Boone, left, give a tour in the Trib Total Media Trolly Display Building at the Pittsburgh Trolly Museum on Monday, June 17, 2014.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review - Conductor Ron Boone walks with Autumn Dosch, 31, of Harmony who brought the children she babysits, Sofia, 3, and Matteo Hardoby, 4, of Cannonsburg to the Pennsylvania Trolly Museum in Washington on June 16, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Justin Merriman  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Conductor Ron Boone walks with Autumn Dosch, 31, of Harmony who brought the children she babysits, Sofia, 3,  and Matteo Hardoby, 4, of Cannonsburg to the Pennsylvania Trolly Museum in Washington on June 16, 2014.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review - Autumn Dosch, 31, of Harmony takes a trolly ride with the children she babysits, Sofia, 3, and Matteo Hardoby, 4, of Cannonsburg at the Pennsylvania Trolly Museum in Washington on June 16, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Justin Merriman  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Autumn Dosch, 31, of Harmony takes a trolly ride with the children she babysits, Sofia, 3,  and Matteo Hardoby, 4, of Cannonsburg at the Pennsylvania Trolly Museum in Washington on June 16, 2014.

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Funding for the future

Here's a look at area organizations, by county, that recently received Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission grants for the first time in recent years:

Allegheny

Carnegie Institute - $65,000

Children's Museum of Pittsburgh - $65,000

Frick Art & Historical Center - $65,000

Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania - $65,000

Rivers of Steel – Steel Industry Heritage Corp. - $19,942

Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum Trust Inc. - $23,942

Beaver

Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation - $4,000

Fayette

Fallingwater - $65,000

Greene

Greene County Historical Society - $4,000

Butler

Butler County Historical Society - $4,000

Westmoreland

Fort Ligonier Association - $14,193

Westmoreland Historical Society - $4,000

Washington

Pennsylvania Trolley Museum - $8,890

Washington County Historical Society - $4,000

Source: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
 

The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum enjoyed record high attendance the past two years, with more than 30,000 visitors making their way through the doors for a glimpse into another era.

Yet such steady ticket sales cover just a third of the museum's operating budget.

“The tickets we sell for visitors to come don't cover all the expenses,” Executive Director Scott Becker said.

That's where donations come in, along with state funding when it is available.

The Trolley Museum in Chartiers, Washington County, was one of 130 organizations statewide, and among dozens in Western Pennsylvania, to receive a grant recently from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission as part of a one-time $2 million support program.

In a post-recession era, museums have experienced dropoffs in private donations and public grants, experts say. Becker said although his organization cuts costs with a volunteer staff equivalent to 15 paid full-time employees, the museum's grant of $8,890 will help offset its day-to-day bills.

“We have expenses many museums don't have,” said Becker, noting the fully operational trolley line that visitors ride. “That helps to cover our overhead.”

Other allocations went to attractions such as Fallingwater in Fayette County, the Carnegie Institute, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh and the Frick Art and Historical Center. Each received $65,000 grants. Historical societies in Butler, Westmoreland and Greene counties received $4,000 each.

Commission spokesman Howard Pollman said organizations can use the grant money for nearly any purpose. Often, that includes salaries, wages, benefits, insurance or equipment purchases.

“It's a lot easier to fundraise for an exhibit or program or something special,” he said. “To fundraise to help defray some of the day-to-day costs is more difficult.”

With the state nearing a projected deficit of $1.2 billion in next year's budget, Pollman said, there's no certainty of the grant's continuance. About 10 years ago, when the state's economy was in better shape, Pollman recalled about $15 million worth of grant allocations.

“We're really happy to have this money this year,” he said. “Moving forward, we don't know. There's a lot of things at play in this year's budget.”

Augie Carlino, president and chief executive officer at Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, said that organization's grant of about $19,000 is a positive step after state support was “zeroed out” in years past.

Rivers of Steel works in the eight-county region to develop industrial sites in ways that commemorate and honor the area's industrial history. Leaders maintain and host tours of the Carrie Blast Furnaces in Rankin.

“We use it for outreach in the community,” he said of the money. “It goes towards helping pay staff, some interns and others that will be doing technical assistance projects.”

At the Beaver County Historical Research and Landmark Foundation, a $4,000 grant fills gaps in the $32,000 operating budget, said Executive Director Brenda Applegate.

The money helps cover day-to-day operating expenses such as phone and Internet bills, and will help offset the purchase of boxes for quilt storage for an ongoing project.

In addition to running thematic youth and adult programs, much of the foundation's work includes fielding questions and tracking down answers on landmarks, artifacts, preservation or area history. Applegate works closely with other organizations, especially as they've had to cut resources, she said.

“With our coalition of historical groups, we're trying to work closely together,” she said.

Becker, at the trolley museum, said Western Pennsylvania has 85 notable museum and historical sites, a mainstay of the state's tourism industry. Museum guests sometimes come from out of town — and the museum gives them a unique experience, he said.

“When you go to visit an area, lots of things are similar,” Becker said. “A lot of the restaurants are national chains. A lot of the hotels are national chains. It's places like museums that tend to make that area unique.”

Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8511 or mdaniels@tribweb.com.

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