The World War II Stuart Tank, Father of the American Navy John Barry, world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra Conductor Leopold Stokowski and Fred McFeely Rogers, creator and host of long-running PBS program “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” are among the subjects of the 21 new state historical markers approved by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC).
The new markers, selected from 57 applications, will be added to the nearly 2,300 familiar blue-with-gold-lettering signs along roads and streets throughout Pennsylvania.
Since 1946 PHMC’s historical markers have chronicled the people, places and events that have affected the lives of Pennsylvanians over the centuries. The signs feature subjects such as Native Americans and settlers, government and politics, athletes, entertainers, artists, struggles for freedom and equality, factories and businesses and a multitude of noteworthy topics.
Nominations for historical markers may be submitted by any individual or organization and are evaluated by a panel of independent experts from throughout the state and approved by the agency’s commissioners.
More information on the Historical Marker Program, including application information, is available online at www.PAHistoricalMarkers.com. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission is the official history agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The following is a list of the newly approved state historical markers with the name of the marker, location and a brief description:
Bryden Horse Shoe Works, Catasauqua, Lehigh County
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this factory supplied a vital product of this era and was one of the largest of its kind in the world. The company used a patented technique that improved durability. Supplying horse shoes to the British government during the Boer War and afterward, it enjoyed a reputation for quality and received orders from throughout the world.
Byberry Hall, Philadelphia
African American abolitionist Robert Purvis built Philadelphia’s Byberry Hall for use as a meeting place and arena for discussion of anti-slavery topics. Many black and white abolitionist leaders of the time spoke here and urged support of the Underground Railroad, protest of fugitive slave laws and related activism.
Commercial Radium Production, Pittsburgh
The first commercial production of radium in the U.S. was accomplished at James and Joseph Flannery’s Standard Chemical Company in 1913. In the following decade, it produced more than one half of the world’s supply of radium. In 1921 it produced one gram of radium to be presented to Marie Curie, discoverer of radium, during her visit to this pioneering laboratory.
Eddie Gottlieb, Philadelphia
One of the founders of the National Basketball Association (NBA), Eddie Gottlieb was influential in the sport since its earliest years. He managed the dominant S.P.H.A.S. basketball team and led them to numerous championships and helped run the international tour of the Harlem Globetrotters. A member of the NBA Rules Committee for 25 years, Gottlieb introduced new rules to improve the game, and spent his lifetime advancing the sport.
Elfreth’s Alley, Philadelphia
Impeccably preserved vernacular neighborhood in the heart of Philadelphia — one of the nation’s oldest and a National Historic Landmark. There have been extensive studies of the houses, their owners and the neighborhood’s transformation over its nearly 300 years of existence, shedding light on a very diverse working-class community.
Enos Benner, Marlborough Township, Montgomery County
Pennsylvania-German printer and publisher, Benner’s “Der Bauern Freund” (“The Farmer’s Friend”) was a widely read by German-speaking Americans in the early to mid-19th century. Published weekly from 1828-1858, and preserved in its entirety, it provides valuable contemporary accounts of the Jacksonian era.
Frank Cooper Craighead, South Middleton Township, Cumberland County
An accomplished naturalist, Craighead did numerous studies of insects and their impact on forests while Chief Forest Entomologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1950 he wrote “Insect Enemies of the Eastern Forest,” which remains the definitive book on the subject. Following his retirement to Pennsylvania, he assisted the state forestry department in dealing with insect infestations.
Fred McFeely Rogers, Latrobe, Westmoreland County
Creator and host of the nationally acclaimed and long-running children’s public television program, “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.” Produced in Pittsburgh from 1968 through 2001, the program emphasized the community spirit Rogers experienced growing up in Latrobe. Rogers made significant contributions to early education and children’s media.
George W. Crawford, Emlenton, Venango County
A native of Emlenton, Pa., and pioneer in natural gas production, transmission and distribution. Crawford established the Columbia Gas & Electric Corp. in 1926, a model and successful multi-state gas utility, and in the 1930s the largest in the world.
Humphrey Marshall, West Bradford Township, Chester County
Considered the Father of American Dendrology, Marshall wrote the first and definitive book on American trees and shrubs in 1785. The book was widely cited in Europe. He also cultivated many American species and exported them to European gardens, including that of Louis XVI of France and King George of England.
John Barry, Philadelphia
Along with John Paul Jones, John Barry is considered the Father of the American Navy. Due to numerous naval victories, Barry was appointed Commodore by Gen. George Washington during the American Revolution. As such he won the final battle at sea against the British in 1783. When the U.S. Navy was created in 1794, Barry was chosen to lead the new department.
John J. McDermott, Philadelphia
At age 19, McDermott became the first American and youngest competitor to win golf’s U.S. Open in 1911 and again in 1912. Traditionally a British game, McDermott’s wins helped to popularize golf in the U.S. In the years following, the PGA was established, two additional golf majors emerged in the U.S. and American golfers dominated the U.S. Open and achieved prominence in the world of golf.
Leopold Stokowski, Philadelphia
World renowned orchestra conductor, Stokowski directed the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1912 to 1940. During his tenure, he developed a unique sound that came to be known as the “Philadelphia Sound.” He adopted a seating plan used by most orchestras today. He is probably most famous for his collaboration and appearance in the Disney film “Fantasia.”
Muhammed’s Temple of Islam #12, Philadelphia
This place of worship was the first Nation of Islam temple in Pa. In its formative years, Malcolm X and Wallace Muhammad had active roles in its development. It played a pivotal role in conveying to Black Pennsylvanians a healthy sense of racial pride and self-worth that gave rise to the Black Nationalist Movement.
Ross Leffler School of Conservation, Brockway, Jefferson County
It is the site of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s original training center for Game Protectors and Wildlife Conservation Officers. Claimed to be the first in the nation, this facility was established in 1931, and became a model for other states.
Sheppton Mine Disaster and Rescue, Sheppton, Schuylkill County
Rescue efforts as a result of a mine cave-in utilized, for the first time, a borehole technique that has become ubiquitous worldwide for similar mine disasters. The same technique was used at Quecreek and Chile in recent decades. The event prompted revisions to state mining regulations and to the federal Coal Mine Safety Act.
St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Croation Church, Pittsburgh
Completed in 1901, the church building served the first Croatian Catholic parish in the nation. St. Nicholas was impressive architecturally, in a modified Romanesque style featuring eastern European styled onion domes. It was demolished in 2013 following a vigorous but unsuccessful preservation campaign.
Stuart Tank, Berwick, Columbia County
The Stuart Tank is a WWII tank built by the American Car and Foundry in Berwick. It was a light tank first supplied to the British army and was the fastest tank of its day. The “shoot and scoot” tank tactic was pioneered on the Stuart Tank. From 1940 to 1944, more than 15,000 Stuart Tanks were produced in Berwick.
Thomas A. Edison High School Honorable 64, Philadelphia
The number 64 represents the 64 graduates of Philadelphia’s Edison High School who fought and died in the Vietnam War. No other school in the nation lost so many. This poor community’s loss gives perspective to the tragedy of the draft system: these young men had no options for waivers, served their country and paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Wesley A.M.E. Zion Church, Philadelphia
Wesley is the first A.M.E. Zion denomination in Pa. In 1820 congregants split from the Bethel Church and soon after affiliated with New York City’s Zion Church and several other black parishes to form the new A.M.E. Zion Church. The church was very active in the 19th century in abolitionist causes and race improvement events, and hosted nationally renowned African American leaders.