Norvelt's natives reunite at Roosevelt Hall
Descendants of the original Westmoreland Homesteaders recently gathered to celebrate their upbringing in Norvelt and celebrate their pride in the village's history and culture.
The group gathered July 18 at the Roosevelt Hall for a 17-year reunion.
The Westmoreland Homestead was founded in 1933 by the federal government as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal Homestead Project.
With 250 homes, the area — that was later named Norvelt — provided housing, work and a community environment to unemployed workers and their families during the Great Depression.
It was renamed “Norvelt” in 1937 in honor of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who personally visited the area to promote the program.
Tom Caldwell of Bear Rocks, a Norvelt native, was wistful in recollecting what life was like growing up there.
“Each family was given a house, a chicken coop, a garage, a wheel barrow, a rake, a hoe, a shovel and a grape arbor,” Caldwell said.
Earl Saville, a member of the event's organizational committee, has been residing in Norvelt in the same house for 77 years.
He's proud to say that his original grape arbor is alive and well.
“It still produces grapes,” Saville said.
Among the guests was Norvelt native Len Solo, a teacher and author who currently resides in Massachusetts.
Solo said the Norvelt homes were outfitted with valuable resources for everyday living.
“They had inside toilets, running water and electricity,” Solo said.
Solo added that the poor were given an opportunity for advancement by “the actions of a caring government.”
“No matter where I go, this little world has stayed with me,” he said.
Paul and Florence Schlingman, the parents of Lois Weyandt, chairperson of the reunion committee, were original Westmoreland Homesteaders, she said.
“There's a lot of history here, and the younger people should know that,” she said. “I think it was a successful effort of the government that really worked.”
Barbara Denning is a contributing writer.
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.