Our annual dinner was held November at the Casino at Lakemont Park. We congratulate our award recipients! Nominations for the 2017 will be open in the near future.
The 2016 Award Winners Honoring the Best of Blair County Heritage
The renovated Winters Music Store
Civil War Flag of the 62nd Pennsylvania
Webster School - Penn State Altoona
Each year, the Blair County Historical Society recognizes persons and organizations that have made a difference in preserving, promoting, and interpreting the history of Blair County. Whether it was restoring a historic building, planning an event to celebrate our heritage, or researching and compiling the stories of our past, we want to honor these efforts to keep our history alive. Help us recognize these achievements by nominating them for the Society’s annual preservation awards. The society recognizes various categories of achievement:
I. EXCELLENCE IN HISTORIC PRESERVATION: Individuals or organizations who have done an outstanding job in preserving and/or restoring a structure of historical significance in Blair County. This includes but is not limited to achievement in architectural design, home or office improvement, adaptive re-use of a historic property, aiding in the development of a historic site, landscaping, interior furnishings and decoration.
Winners: Owners John Horell and Brian Irwin, Project Manager Shawn Wilkins, Railroad City Brewing Company, and Allegheny Ballet Company Project: Restoration of the Winters Music Building These two entities have revived this historic building on 11th Avenue in Altoona, making it a place for entertainment and culture. Not only have they brought new business to the downtown area of Altoona but they have also maintained, restored, or uncovered the historic facets of the former Winters Music Store building. This undertaking is a prime example of adaptive reuse for historic structures. Read more.
II. EXCELLENCE IN PRESERVATION OF COUNTY HISTORY AND HERITAGE: Individuals or organizations who have excelled in keeping the heritage of Blair County viable. This includes but is not limited to projects involving education, special programs, maintaining records, scrapbooks, drama, art, music, photography, oral history, folklore, and books or publications.
Winner: Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School History Club Project: 62nd PA Civil War Flag Conservation This dedicated group of local high school students and community activists, under the direction of teacher Amy Turiano, took it upon themselves to raise funds and awareness for the conservation of a Civil War flag carried by local troops in the 1860s. The students even hosted a successful Civil War ball in June as a fundraiser. This is artifact preservation at its finest. Read more.
III. DIRECTOR'S AWARD: This award honors individuals and organizations deserving of special recognition for their outstanding preservation efforts. It is through their achievement that others gain a deeper appreciation of historic resources and their value to Blair County’s history, economy, culture, and quality of life.
Winner: History and Archival Committee of the Penn State Altoona Alumni Society Project: Penn State Altoona Heritage Project This committee seeks to collect, record, and preserve artifacts and documents dealing with Penn State Altoona's 77 year history. In addition to collection three-dimensional artifacts, the committee has also conserved the newspaper "clippings books" of Robert Eiche, the first campus director. These newspaper clippings albums were compiled by Eiche over his several decades of leadership at the campus and serve as an amazing documentary record of the campus origins. More recently, the committee (in partnership with the campus library) has preserved and catalogued hundreds of letters written by campus students while they were in the service during WWII. Read more.
IV. PRESIDENT'S AWARD: This award presented by the nominating committee is given to individuals or organizations who go above and beyond in their quests of preserving or interpreting Blair County History to the masses. The recognition highlights long term commitment to historical education and understanding.
Winner: The Blair County Genealogical Society Project: Blair County Publication and Archival Projects Over the past several years, the Blair County Genealogical Society has accumulated a massive array of primary and secondary source material that conveys the broad scope of regional history. Their in-house publications, speaker series, and ongoing archival projects are an invaluable resource to the community and anybody seeking to trace their family roots in Central Pennsylvania.
V. LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Winner: Cummins McNitt Cummins McNitt served for a decade in the creation of exhibits and educational projects for the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum. He continues to serve as a teacher at Tyrone Area High School and is also involved the preservation of the historic Camp Anderson Boy Scout camp near Tyrone. For decades he has been a guiding force in historical interpretation and a mentor to Blair County’s leaders of tomorrow.
Blair County Historical Society Physical Site: Baker Mansion 3419 Oak Lane Altoona, PA 16602