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JS Historical Museum reopening July 3

Others preparing to open doors again soon

PHOTO PROVIDED A military display at the Jersey Shore Historical Society and Samuel Moss House on South Main Street in Jersey Shore is always a popular sport for visitors touring the museum. Other displays are local photography, art, maps, quilts. On their Facebook page, musuem volunteers have been researching and posting old stories from the newspaper including local news and headlines.

JERSEY SHORE — Some of the local museums are still open and have exhibits even amidst a pandemic,

while the others have adapted their operations to something more COVID safe until it is more safe to re-open.

The Jersey Shore Historical Society and Samuel Moss House, located on South Main St. in Jersey Shore, has remained closed since March of 2020, but is reopening after their historical yard sale on July 3 according to Christina Cooney, president.

After the reopening, Cooney said that she hopes the hospital will go back to their normal schedule, being open the second Saturday of each month from 1 to 3 p.m. showing the history of Jersey Shore from the 1700s to the 2000s through art work, maps, photographs, quilt and military displays.

“We are hoping to have people come in for self-guided tours,” Cooney said. She added that the walking tours, which will take customers through historical homes and churches, should begin in the fall.

During the closure however, the volunteer staff has been very active on the Facebook page doing research projects and posting Jersey Shore business directories from 1867 to 1935, back issues of newspapers and different borough sites.

Recently they have posted old headlines from newspapers on Mondays, local news on Wednesday’s and other newspaper converge on Friday’s.

“The goal is to ultimately get articles searchable,” Cooney said.

Some of the projects were meant to be a part of a presentation with the local elementary schools before the closures. Soon, they hope to start on a restoration project, bringing back an old Jersey Shore trolley from 1908 and put it on display. They are still in the very early stages of that however.

“We are excited to get open and have people come in,” Cooney said. “We are getting antsy.”

The Taber Museum on West Fourth Street initially closed down with other museums during the first state shutdowns in March and December of 2020 but turned around and reopened in May of 2020 and are planning to fully reopen after June 30.

Many exhibits like the canal exhibit, the dress-up section and the “Thomas the Tank” exhibits were all closed with the pandemic closures as they tend to be “high touch” areas, but Gary Parks, director, is hopeful that some of those exhibits will be back up and running in July.

“We just feel that the worst of COVID is over,” Parks added. He said that his entire staff is fully vaccinated and hopes to make masking optional for those that are vaccinated who are attending the museum. He added that there is also social distancing and hand sanitizer in the building.

This summer the museum has been holding limited capacity demonstration lectures on floral arrangements, coffee culture and even calligraphy and making apple cider.

“Those were fun,” he said.

He hopes that there will be a few more of these lectures on topics like origami, Lycoming County automotive history and more.

Even during the initial 2020 closures and reopenings, Park still was able to hold children’s workshops and had a summer exhibit.

That exhibit had about 25 motorcycles ranging in different brands like Harley Davidson and Triumph.

“(The exhibit) brought in about 1,300 people,” Parks said.

He said that this exhibit was also photographed for a calendar and catalog which alongside admissions brought in approximately $10,000 to the museum.

“The artwork was beautiful,” Parks said.

Other exhibits, like their holiday exhibit, were extended to later dates due to being closed for another short period in December of 2020.

Parks also added that the museum had received a grant from the Visitor’s Bureau to help with exhibits.

The Rowley House, located at the corner of Walnut and West Fourth streets, had many challenges during closures.

The museum, which only does tours of the house and house history by appointment only, used to have 25-30 tours yearly on top of Victorian Christmas, which was cancelled, and went down to only three tours during the initial part of pandemic closures, causing “significant loss.” Now, they are inching up to eight tours.

“It’s still pretty low,” said Bill Hoffman, president. “I’d like to do more tours.”

The tours come from Landmark Tour busses that bring groups close to 40 people downtown and to the museum, but recently there have been smaller group sizes around 15 to 20. The hope with the hope of returning to groups of 40.

When the three tours occured in the fall of 2020, masking was mandated at the museum, but Hoffman hopes that with summer reopenings and more people being vaccinated, masking will be optional as there is room to split tours into multiple groups and the museum is completely “no-touch.”

In the meantime, Preservation Williamsport has applied for grants and also has had help with revenue and costs from the second and third floor apartments in the house.

“We are looking forward (to reopening),” Hoffman said. “We meet such interesting people. The vast majority are so interested in history and it is interesting to get questions. It is rewarding and a lot of fun.”

The Peter Herdic Transportation Museum is “closed until further notice during restructuring within the city,” said Skip Cochran, marketing representative. Though he could not give further information, he did say that trolley tours are still happening and can be booked at ridetrolleys.com.

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