Tuesday, January 26, 2021
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Awards Honor Those Working to Preserve Centre County History

The Centre County Historical Society (CCHS) hosts its 32nd annual John. H. Ziegler Historic Preservation Awards, Sunday, Jan. 31. The virtual event recognizes individuals and organizations throughout Centre County for their efforts preserving and interpreting the county’s history. 

“The 32nd Historic Preservation Awards … was named after a long-time board member, John Ziegler,” Mary Sorenson, CCHS executive director, says. He was not only a long-time board member, but a community advocate and someone with a passion for historic preservation in our county… It’s in his honor that we’re carrying this program forward,” 

This year’s award recipients were picked from an array of public nominations, via a committee consisting of CCHS board members and others from the community. Honorees include: 

  • Matt Maris, founder of Local Historia Historical Walking Tours; 
  • Centre County Commissioners, Sue Hannegan, Alan Popovich, AIA, Alberto Romero, M.A. and Alec Romero, for Centre County Soldiers and Sailors Memorial and Curtin Monument restoration; 
  • Ken Hickman, executive director at the Penn State All Sports Museum; 
  • Rebecca Inlow, from Rowland Theatre;
  • The Centre County Historical Society Stocking Stuffer Committee; and 
  • Alan Popovich, AIA, receiving a second nod with the Jacqueline J. Melander Award. The Jacqueline J. Melander Award, named in honor of Jackie Melander, Centre County Historical Society president emeritus, recognizes long-standing commitments to Centre County historic preservation. 

“We just feel it’s so important to encourage and promote people who are doing historic preservation activities or preserving histories in other ways, whether it’s through a story or preserving a building or an activity,” Sorenson says. “I think it’s great to continue to recognize this is happening in Centre County. We have such a rich history here,”. 

The 2021 awards ceremony looks a bit different from years past, held virtually via Zoom and condensed for a shorter overall event. The event is also limited to 100 attendees, but will be live-streamed on YouTube on the CCHS YouTube channel and recorded by C-NET for airing at a later date and online.

“We are thankful and want to recognize the ongoing C-NET sponsorship of this program by the Centre County Commissioners,” Sorenson adds.

She says the awards ceremony has typically lasted for about an hour and a half but that felt too long for a virtual program.

“We’ve scaled it back a little bit, so it’ll be about 45 minutes to an hour, to make it more manageable for people to sit through,” Sorenson says. “It will be primarily narrated by Katie O’Toole and she’ll have gotten quotes from various award recipients. This year, it’s just about doing the best we can and making sure we continue this tradition and really honoring the people who are doing the good work of history in this county.”

The virtual ceremony is only one of many changes the CCHS has been forced to make as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We have not been open to the public,” Sorenson says. “Of our docents that give regular tours, many are in that high-risk category for COVID-19 and we just decided pretty early on that we needed to wait until this is at a point where we’ll feel safe to open again with volunteers.”

The society is still offering virtual programming, including a Zoom lecture series. The next upcoming lecture in the series takes place Feb. 28 and focuses on Pennsylvania’s connection to the history of cable television. Registration details will be available in February at centrehistory.org

Those interested in attending the 32nd annual John. H. Ziegler Historic Preservation Awards, Jan. 31, can register to attend at centrehistory.org/preservationawards. Nomination forms are also available on the website year-round, for those who wish to nominate an honoree for next year’s awards.

“CCHS has been truly honored to host this program for 32 years and feel it is important to bring to light the good work of people in Centre County keeping history alive through programming, publications, volunteerism and historic preservation,” Sorenson says.

Ken Hickman, executive director of the Penn State All-Sports Museum, will receive the History and Heritage Award for living the museum’s mission “to honor the achievements of the men and women who have built the proud tradition of Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics through the preservation and promotion of their legacy for the education and benefit of the community.”
The Preservation and Restoration Award will be presented to The Centre County Commissioners, Sue Hannegan, Alan Popovich AIA, Alberto Romero M.A. and Alec Romero for restoration work funded by the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission Keystone Historic Preservation Grant and the Centre County Government to restore the courthouse Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, which was designed by Joseph M. Huston who designed the Pennsylvania State Capital. It was dedicated in 1906 “To those who died to keep the nation whole, this memorial is dedicated in grateful appreciation.” Photo provided.
Rebecca Inlow will receive the Support and Volunteerism Award for long term and ongoing volunteerism with and advocacy of the Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg and for authoring “The Rowland Story: Beauty from Ashes” to raise funds for the Theatre. Photo provided
Matt Maris, of Local Historia Historical Walking Tours, will receive the Education and Advocacy Award Inspiring curiosity and learning about local history through research, the Local Historia Facebook page, and historical walking tours of Bellefonte. Photo provided
Alan Popovich will receive the Jacqueline J. Melander Award for outstanding and long-term advocacy of and commitment to historic preservation through preservation architecture projects in many of Centre County’s historic structures. Photo provided
Deb McManus-Chair, Cathy Horner and Becky Dreese will accept the President’s Award on behalf of the Centre County Historical Society Stocking Stuffer Committee for committed and ongoing contribution of time, creativity, talent and resources since 2003 in support of The Stocking Stuffer Magical Holiday Market, CCHS’s largest fundraiser. Photo provided