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Overly House renovation project nears completion

| Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
A.J. Panian | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Local couple Rick and Heidi Meason, president of the Mt. Pleasant Area Historical Society and the society’s secretary/treasurer, respectively, stand inside the Overly House, an oak log structure built in 1786 which the society acquired for $1 on Dec. 31, 2007. As a nearly six-year renovation project on the building nears its end, the society has started relocating its headquarters to the house located along Washington Street in the Old Town section of Mt. Pleasant.
A.J. Panian | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
A renovation project which began in 2008 involving the Overly House, an oak log structure built in 1786, is nearing completion by the Mt. Pleasant Area Historical Society.
A.J. Panian | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Rick Meason, president of the Mt. Pleasant Area Historical Society, said he anticipates a new era for the group once it completes the process of relocating its headquarters to the Overly House, a oak log structure built in 1786 which the society acquired for $1 on Dec. 31, 2007.

The Mt. Pleasant Area Historical Society is nearing completion of a roughly $70,000 project started in 2008 to restore the Overly House in the Old Town section of the borough.

With that, the relocation of the society's headquarters from its current site along West Main Street to the house along Washington Street is underway, he said.

“That process has officially begun,” said Rick Meason, the society's president. “We just moved one of our display cases there, but there is no timetable for completing the moving process. Our current office is going to remain our office until further notice.”

However, Meason added, society members are working to further strengthen the organization's connection to Overly House prior to start of the 28th annual Mt. Pleasant Glass & Ethnic Festival to be held from Sept. 26-28.

“We want to get at least a little bit of a presence down there before the festival begins,” he said.

Multiple sources contribute to project

In 2008, society member and then-President Richard A. Snyder expressed optimism that the renovation of oak log structure built in 1786 would be completed by Christmas of that year.

“We expected to get it done a lot sooner,” Snyder said.

However, a constraining economy and a subsequent lack of state funding lengthened the process, he said.

“It just took a lot of hard work and contributions from the community to make it happen,” Snyder said.

To meet Uniform Construction Code standards, an earthen, handicapped accessible ramp was installed, and the interior wiring had to meet the code's requirements, as well, Snyder said.

In 2010, one large portion of the renovation process — the installation of a new roof made from hand-split, cedar shingles — was completed by J.R.'s Roofing & Construction of Blairsville.

At the time, O.C. Cluss Lumber/Building Supplies of Uniontown provided 60 bundles worth of the shingles in care of Great Lakes Forest Products Inc. in Powell River, British Columbia, at a cost of nearly $3,000, Snyder said.

Purchase of the shingles was made possible via private donations and fundraising done by the society during the festival in September of that year, as volunteers sold ham sandwiches and bean soup, he said.

The Rotary Club of Mt. Pleasant paid for new windows installed in the building, and its members have been regular contributors otherwise, Snyder said.

“The Rotary has been very good to us,” he said.

Funding was also generated from a pancake breakfast held in 2010 and 2011 at the cabin, Snyder said.

The heating, air conditioning and insulation were completed by DePalma's Plumbing and Heating at a cost of approximately $8,000.

The oak flooring, interior woodwork, and stair rails were completed by Kelly Brown, proprietor of Brown Timber & Land Co. Inc. of Acme, for roughly $8,000.

“He's a very excellent craftsman,” Snyder said.

“That was all financed by private donations and fundraising, also,” said Snyder, who added that Electro-Glass Products of Norvelt has been an invaluable contributor of funding and labor toward completion of the project.

Brown still has work to complete in the cabin on the first and second floor, and in the stairway, Snyder said. Earlier this year, the society was granted an occupancy permit which enables the group to open the cabin to the public.

“We're proud of what we've done there, and we hope the building will last another century without a whole lot of problems,” Snyder said.

House has quite a history

The log house was originally-located on a hillside in Armbrust, Snyder said.

It was purchased by the Overly family in the late 1970s, he said, after which it was refurbished and opened as a historical site which operated into the mid-1980s.

It sat dormant until it was acquired for $1 by the historical society on Dec. 31, 2007.

While the project to restore the house has required sizable funding and calls for considerably more, Snyder said, it was all worth it.

“It's been very much worthwhile to get this building reconstructed to the point we have it. Hopefully we will continue to acquire funding for its maintenance and its upkeep in future,” Snyder said.

Society seeks volunteers for festival

The society is looking for up to 15 volunteers to work in its booth and cabins during festival.

“We need them on all three days for three to four hours shifts,” Meason said.

High school students can fulfill community service required to graduate by taking part, said Heidi Meason, the society's secretary/treasurer.

The society is also accepting new members. To join, call 724-547-9115 or send an email to mpahistory@gmail.com.

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or apanian@tribweb.com.