NORRISTOWN PA – Eye-popping and readily recognized properties of significant architecture, some of which are on the National Register of Historic Places, will be the subject of a Dec. 6 (2023; Wednesday) presentation by the Historical Society of Montgomery County.
The program will be offered by Barry Rauhauser, the society’s executive director. For the past year Rauhauser has spent time traveling to, photographing, and researching the county’s architectural landscape. His hour-long talk about his images, and the results of his dive into the history of the properties, is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at the society, 1654 Dekalb St.
The event is free to attend and open to the public. Off-street parking is available. The show will be preceded by a social gathering set for 6:30 p.m.
Among the buildings up for discussion are the former David Rittenhouse Junior High School (at top and above), built in 1928. It’s a three-story Colonial Revival-style building in red brick with limestone trim. Now re-purposed, it was entered into the national register in 1996.
The presentation is part of the society’s mission to promote and interpret the county’s history. Its programs regularly feature scholars, authors, and historians who are working on telling new stories about the region’s complex history.
Tours beyond the talk
The society also makes available a slate of eight different themed tours of the historic Montgomery Cemetery on Hartranft Avenue in Norristown, which it owns and maintains. Its work in the cemetery remains a “restoration in progress,” but efforts there to date allows tour scheduling for interested groups. The list includes:
- “Bench & Bar,” a tour that highlights prominent judges and lawyers from Montgomery County;
- “The Exeter Train Wreck.” In 1899, an express train from Harrisburg going 45 miles per hour crashed into a stopped train at the Exeter Station, in Berks County. Twenty-nine people were killed, and 44 injured. Many found their final resting place in Montgomery Cemetery;
- “The Art and Symbolism on Monuments.” A guided walk delves into the deeper meaning of cemetery architecture and symbolism, as well as some of the more artistic monuments in the cemetery;
- “The Rural Cemetery Movement,” a program that focuses on the movement to make cemeteries more park-like in the late 19th century;
- “The American Civil War,” which focuses on the five Civil War generals buried at the cemetery, as well as some of the nurses and other heroes of the struggle;
- “Norristown History.” The guided walk focuses on families that not only were prominent in Norristown, but also lent their names to many of the streets in the borough;
- “Prominent Businessmen,” a tour that focuses on some of the county’s early business and factory owners; and
- “Tragic Deaths,” a guided walk coveting some of the more unusual and tragic deaths in the cemetery. They include victims who died from drinking too much ice water, and eating a poisoned pie.
Curious? Contact the society to book a tour.
Top photo by Smallbones on Wikimedia Commons, used under a Creative Commons CC0 license
Photo above provided to Travels With The Post by the Historical Society of Montgomery County