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From the Vault: News from the Thursday, July 8, 1976 edition of the Press & Journal

Posted 7/5/17

President Ford cites bicen program here

President Gerald R. Ford has forwarded a Bicentennial Message which commends the borough of Middletown for its part in providing bicentennial programs and …

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From the Vault: News from the Thursday, July 8, 1976 edition of the Press & Journal


President Ford cites bicen program here

President Gerald R. Ford has forwarded a Bicentennial Message which commends the borough of Middletown for its part in providing bicentennial programs and earning for the community the National Bicentennial Flag.

Printed on parchment and bearing the seal of the president of the United States, it will be presented to Borough Council at the July meeting next Monday night.

Bearing Ford’s signature, the message was received this week by Dr. John Hoffman, who heads the borough’s Historical Commission and Historical Society. It was forwarded by John W. Warner, administrator of the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration.

Wrote Warner:

“The Communities Program, in my judgment, is one of the greatest landmark achievements of the bicentennial. Citizen volunteers in over 11,000 communities formed committees to provide bicentennial programs and to earn for their community the national bicentennial flag.

“As a final distinction to those communities which have provided the nation with lasting reminders of the bicentennial, the president of the United States has accorded this special commendation, which I am privileged to transmit.”

President Ford’s bicentennial message to Middletown follows:

“We now mark the beginning of our third century as an independent nation as well as the 200th anniversary of the American Revolution. For two centuries, our nation has grown, changed and flourished. A diverse people, drawn from all corners of the Earth, have joined together to fulfill the promise of democracy.

“America’s bicentennial is rich in history and in the promise and potential of the years that lie ahead. It is about the events of our past, our achievements, our traditions, our diversity, our freedoms, our form of government and our continuing commitment to a better life for all Americans. The bicentennial offers each of us the opportunity to join with our citizens in honoring the past and preparing for the future in communities across the nation. Thus, in joining together as races, nationalities and individuals, we also retain and strengthen our traditions, background and personal freedom.

“As we lay the cornerstone of American’s third century, I am most happy to commend the Bicentennial Community of Middletown, Pennsylvania, for playing a special part in this great national celebration.”

Going, going, gone? (Carriage House)

Middletown is in serious danger of losing one of its most charming Victorian buildings! The Carriage House at the rear of Alfred’s Victorian Restaurant has reached the point of gentile decay where it must either be repaired immediately, or torn down.

The brick-faced frame building is perhaps Middletown’s only example of a Victorian Carriage House in its original form, complete with haymow, feed chutes, and cobbled floor. While serious problems with the slate roof have caused some minor damage structurally, and some major damage to the brick facade, this building could still be saved. But who is going to save it?

The owners do not feel that it is economically feasible for them to do anything other than demolition.

However, they realize the building could be of interest to future generations, and have offered a long-term, extremely reasonable leasing arrangement for any organization willing to take on the necessary repairs.

The Middletown Arts and Crafts Guild would love to use the building for a free gallery, but their budget is, like the organization itself, in its infancy. The craftspeople would donate labor for fixing the inside. The Historical Society feels the building should be preserved, but they have their hands full with Liberty House, the Ferry House, and the Band House.

It is estimated that it would take at least $5,000 for immediate roofing, brick work, and structural repairs to preserve the building and ready it for summer use as a gallery. Another similar amount would be needed to prepare it for year-around use.

But, time is of the essence. Anyone with an extra $5,000 and the urge to have the immortality of having a Memorial Art Gallery named for them is urged to contact Box Number 1, Middletown Press & Journal.

$5,000 is too rich for your blood? How about five people with $1,000 or 10 people with $500? Maybe we could find 50 people with $100 and call it Middletown’s Bicentennial Memorial Art Gallery.

The opportunity to save this building is offered this week! The owners must know within this 30 days what disposition to make of it. The Carriage House is truly going-going. It is up to you to say if it must be gone!

Liberty House work will be started in fall

“Liberty House” — a project calling for the rehabilitation of the old Liberty Fire House on Catherine Street and the construction of an addition to become the future home of the community library and the historical society — grows closer to reality now that the borough’s second-year program in the Community Development Act has been approved by the federal government.

First- and second-year authorizations have been combined to provide $135,600, which will get the project underway by fall. In addition, some $50,000 in pledges and contributions collected by the Middletown Friends of the Library will swell the overall funding to $185,600.

The library has never been in a borough-owned structure since it was moved from the former council chamber which stood next to the site of the new home.. The old council chamber was razed a decade ago.

Library and Historical Society aides met earlier this week with Ralph Wirth, assistant borough manager, and Harry Corywell, architect, engaged to design the new structure. They conferred Tuesday morning to discuss plans for the structure as well as a new location for an elevator.

The addition calls for three floors and a basement while the original building will be just two floors. With Phase 1 plans already completed and approved, the recent Community Development Act fund approval now makes it possible for the architect to finalize plans for Phase 2.

Wirth said every effort will be made to call for bids in early September to permit construction to get underway soon after.

Attending Tuesday’s meeting were Mrs. Gail Richards, chairlady of the library board; Mrs. Sue Neiman, librarian; Mrs. Leonard Brewster, Friends of the Library; Dr. John Hoffman, president of the Historical Commission and Historical Society; Wirth and Coryell.

Work started on new $189,378 Union Street project in First Ward

A long-sought project to link existing South Union Street by constructing a new segment from Ann and Union streets has been started by a Harrisburg contractor.

Philip Spagnolo, executive director of the Dauphin County Redevelopment Authority, told the Press-Journal this week that a contract in the amount of $189,378 was awarded to Rogell Inc. of Harrisburg.

The new thoroughfare will eliminate the meandering and hazardous Swatara Street.

Existing properties along Swatara Street not previously acquired by the HUD program will now be razed or relocated to other flood-free areas within the First Ward.

Spagnolo said the initial work will consist of constructing new curbing and sidewalks on South Union Street to a point near Susquehanna Street. Go-ahead for this work was given last week.

Hot buys

• Purcell tennis shoes, regular $14.95, discontinued model, $12.76. David Martin Store, downtown Middletown.

• Fresh sausage, $1.39 a pound. Longnecker’s Meats, Spring Garden Drive, Lower Swatara Township.

• Ludwig grand piano, $995. Keynote Organ and Piano, downtown mall, 100 E. Brown St., Middletown.

• Twin mattress or foundation, $119.95. King three-piece set, $499.95. Roth’s Furniture Stores, 29 S. Union St., Middletown.