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Commission Plans for Eckley Miners' Village's Long-Term Sustainability
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 09/30/2022

The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC) announced that it has received additional support from the Appalachian Regional Commission to implement the first phase of a plan to revitalize the 90-acre Eckley Miners' Village historic site.

Plans include the creation of an interdisciplinary research center and the amenity of overnight lodging in several historic homes. These strategic initiatives, designed with the understanding that the best way to preserve a historic building is to use it, aim to inspire new ways of connecting with northeastern Pennsylvania's industrial heritage by offering visitors fresh perspectives, innovative programs, and immersive experiences. Revenue from the new site uses will sustain long-term preservation projects and museum programs.

The proposed research and learning center will be located near the village's western end in a house that was constructed for mine owner Asa Foster in the 1850s. The 1,500-square-foot structure will be reimagined with classrooms, laboratories, conference rooms and offices to facilitate collaborative research and educational programs exploring the anthracite region's history, environment and culture. The research and learning center will solidify Eckley's partnerships with the University of Maryland, Penn State University, Kutztown University, Susquehanna University and others to expand Eckley's interpretive range and create opportunities for local K-12 students to gain hands-on experience in academic research.

Overnight lodging in several 19th-century miners' homes is also being proposed. Visitors will stay where mining families once lived to make their own memories of the anthracite region. Also under this plan, miners' homes will be provided as on-site lodging for scholars conducting long-term studies at the research and learning center. The lodging facilities will generate revenue to sustain museum operations and support future site improvements.

These projects will implement portions of the Eckley Miners' Village Strategic Plan, which provides guidelines for the site's redevelopment that will continue to be refined as the site's needs and programs evolve.

For more than 50 years, PHMC has stewarded northeastern Pennsylvania's anthracite-mining heritage at Eckley. The planned changes to Eckley's historic campus will ensure that the site remains a sustainable, dynamic heritage destination as it continues to enrich the connections between the industrial past and contemporary culture.

Overseeing the project is Chris Stokum, hired for this purpose by Eckley in 2021. A Pennsylvania native, Stokum joined the museum after receiving his Ph.D. from Boston University, where he specialized in 19th-century labor and education history in the American & New England Studies Program.

Eckley Miners' Village, located in Weatherly, Luzerne County, is one of 24 historic sites and museums administered by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission as part of the Pennsylvania Trails of History. Eckley Miners Village preserves and shares the story of anthracite coal mining, the social and physical history of patch towns and their residents, and the evolution of regional culture. Eckley Miners' Village is actively supported by the Eckley Miners' Village Associates, a nonprofit community-based organization.


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