Bell Township Historical Preservation Society to open new museum
As Robert and Dolores Colledge sit among the wood framing and unfinished drywall in an old storefront on Main Street in Salina, they are making history. Again.
The Bell Township site was the former Bell Echo restaurant that decades ago hummed with a jukebox and a soda bar. It is also the place where the Colledges had their first date on March 23, 1947.
Married for 63 years, the Colledges of Perrysville are back in the same storefront, this time helping to open a new museum for the Bell Township Historical Preservation Society.
Charter members of the society that was established in 1980, the couple and other volunteers are resurrecting the preservation society.
The museum, expected to open in May, will house a treasure of vintage photographs and other artifacts for visitors to learn about the history of the area and local genealogy.
A museum is not a unique idea for Bell Township: A fire decimated the society's museumin St. James Lutheran Church in 1996.
“A lot of the interest was lost after the fire,” said Norm Bortz of Bell Township, also a member of the society.
So were some of the artifacts and records. But not all of them.
Historical documents and other materials were stashed in the Colledge's basement, the Bell Township Municipal Building and other locations.
There's so much material to choose from — among them pictures of the St. Patrick Day's flood of 1936 and local celebrities such as Cowboy Phil Reed and the EZC Ranch Girls who were heard over the airwaves of WHJB in Greensburg and elsewhere in the 1950s.
Such preservation is important “and it's really neat to know,” said Lori Calandrella, of Salina, who has two great-aunts who were Ranch Girls.
The society's work with historical materials has been ongoing.
Carole Novosel of the Tintown section of Bell Township has restored 4,000 to 5,000 images and photographs taken in Salina and neighboring communities from the 1700s through 1900s.
And the public seems to be interested in history and genealogy.
Dolores Colledge said, “There isn't a week that goes by without someone calling wanting us to show them something.”
Now the society is trying to get more people interested and involved with preservation, said Steve Nelson, 64, of Bell Township, president of the preservation society.
The years have taken a toll as many of the group's active members have died, Nelson said.
“But interest has been growing and with the opening of this museum, it will generate additional interest,” Nelson said. “We'll have a visible site and facility that people could come to and also join the preservation society.”
The society has a two-year free lease for the building owned by William and Judy Barker of Salina, according to Nelson.
And the group has received a number of donations to start the museum, including help from Tim Strong, 53, who owns the Salina Inn, which has been around since the mid-1800s. Evident that this is a small town: Strong's grandmother, Lula Ripple, owned the Bell Echo.
“History has always come easy to me,” Strong said of his work with the society.
He and other members continue to work on the renovations for the new museum.
“The easy part is renovating,” Robert Colledge said. “The hard part will be organizing all the photos.”
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 3 charged with selling heroin that killed Lower Burrell woman
- Drivers survive head-on crash on Route 356 in Allegheny Township
- Snow sculptors have a ball with Iceburgh, Einstein
- Apollo targets owners who fail to maintain vacant properties
- Harrison mom, boyfriend charged in abuse of young boys
- Student suicide brings issue of bullying to fore in New Kensington-Arnold
- Leechburg man charged with molesting girls, watching child pornography
- Springdale Township standoff ends peacefully
- Mia Z (Zanotti) of Hyde Park advances on NBC’s ‘The Voice’
- Brackenridge nonprofit organization dreams BIG
- Teenage suspect in Leechburg killing held for trial