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Local Guide and Consultant Offers Bellefonte History on Walking Tours

by and on August 26, 2020 2:32 PM
Bellefonte, PA

BELLEFONTE — Although Matt Maris grew up in North Carolina, he graduated from Lock Haven University after going there initially to wrestle for the Bald Eagles. His wife, Alyson, is a Penn State graduate and when the opportunity arose to come to Bellefonte, they were happy to move to an area where there is such an abundance of history.

Maris is wild about history and for the past five years, besides teaching at Bellefonte Area High School, he has researched and created walking tour after walking tour of Bellefonte, conducting most with no charge. He considers it his way of giving to his community.

“I will always offer some free tours because I love doing it and meeting the people,” he said.

Maris leads tours that are full of the history of the many old buildings in Bellefonte, as well as ones about the Civil War and the town’s connections to it. He leads tours for school classes, for people who call up and want a specific tour and for events that involve the community — such as the “Under the Lights Bellefonte” evening. He had planned a tour in conjunction with the Outdoor Expo in October, but unfortunately, the sponsors had to cancel the event for 2020 due to the pandemic. Although Maris is slowing down his schedule somewhat with school opening, if you call him, he will work with you to arrange a tour.

“The area is so rich with history; there is always so much more to learn. I am constantly learning new things about the area and its stories,” Maris said, 

His interest in history really caught fire when he did an internship at the Centre County Library and Historical Museum for his master’s degree in history. He took some of his students on a walking tour of Bellefonte and loved the experience. The Centre County Library and Historical Museum offered free walking tours on Fridays in the summer and from his enjoyment of that, Local Historia emerged as his business in August of 2019.

Maris said he loves the research, following up on a question and bringing the answers he finds to the public. He has conducted ghost tours, Civil War tours, Historic Buildings of Bellefonte tours and many more.

There is enough history in the Bellefonte area to keep Maris offering tours for a long time.

“Although I have no tours scheduled right now, I am in the process of working some things for the fall,” he said.

To contact Maris, local historian, guide and consultant, call (814) 952-9342, email at [email protected] or visit his Facebook page, Local Historia.

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Connie Cousins covers Centre County for the Gazette.
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