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Winters Heritage House Museum seeks to preserve local history by engaging community support to identify buildings of historical significance; developing and sustaining educational experiences that recognize the area's early cultural groups; and archiving and documenting collections of historical value.
Using history to build community has always been central to the mission of Winters Heritage House. The year 2005 marks the 15-year anniversary of the first guided school tours of a partially restored Heritage House. Although yet incomplete, restoration was well underway to generate community excitement for the project. In 1988, a group of Elizabethtown preservationists united to save one of the town's original log structures from imminent demolition. As a result, Elizabethtown Preservation Associates, Inc. emerged as a nonprofit membership association governed by a Board of Directors. The dedicated group of local citizens salvaged a one- and one-half-story log house, built circa 1750's in the Scots-Irish tradition. The property became known as Heritage House in 1991, at which time the fully restored historic house opened to the public. The opening followed one year of documentary, archaeological and historical research and another two years of restoration work. Generous community support from individuals, businesses and service organizations moved the project to fruition. The authentic structural elements offered visitors a doorway into Elizabethtown's past and a natural curiosity about the residential lives of people who had lived over 250 years ago. In 1997, local benefactor Esther Winters added an adjacent property (c. 1847) to the museum complex. The Kauffman-Meyer house contained elements and material culture relevant to the Pennsylvania German tradition. A series of living history programs and historic walking tours interpreting the period 1750-1850 evolved soon thereafter, as did the nucleus of a genealogy library for researching both family and local history. The two authentically restored log houses provide a rustic setting for year-round educational programs, demonstrations of interpretive folk traditions and special events and seasonal fund-raisers. Today, Elizabethtown's only living history center houses the Nogging Shop, a museum store, and the Seibert Library and Resource Center, which was dedicated in November 1998.
- Lori Donofrio-Galley
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