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As another year nears its end, calendars for 2013 are starting to pop up in stores. You can find calendars with puppies and kittens and celebrities.
But finding a calendar full of history about the local area? That’s a bit more unique.
The Amity Heritage Society is looking to fill a niche for those who want something a little bit different in a calendar for the coming year. The group has released its first ever calendar, full of images that focus on the history of the Amity area. And while you might not keep old calendars full of kittens around the house after a new year begins – a calendar full of Amity area history can be kept for a lifetime.
Amity Heritage Society president Charles J. Miller said the genesis for the calendar was the discovery of glass photo negatives in an old barn owned by former Heritage Society member, Bruce Gilbert, who had passed away. According to Miller, the auctioneer handling the estate auction did not want to go into the barn. When Gilbert’s family offered the contents of the barn to the Amity Heritage Society, before the sale, Miller accepted.
“The first thing in front of me when I walked into that barn was four wooden boxes full of glass negatives in their sleeves, with descriptions,” Miller said. “While some were broken, the glass negatives were of such quality and the detail was amazing. We were able to develop 277 of them.”
All of the pictures were taken between 1913 and 1917 and are centered in Amityville and a 10 mile radius. Miller said that unfortunately, they don’t know for sure who took the photos, but the society believes they were taken by the Ehrgood and Levengood families – capturing the changes taking place in Amity 100 years ago. Miller said that ironically, Gilbert had lived on the property all his life, and never knew the pictures were there. “We’re thankful the auctioneer didn’t want to go in,” he added.
The Amity Heritage Society had the negatives professionally developed, and they have been on display at the Heritage Society’s headquarters in Douglasville. Society member Tony Mattassa said the idea for the calendar came up last year, but it was just in the last couple of months that the group focused its efforts on turning the calendar into something they could make available to residents.
“It’s a fundraiser for us, but it’s a way to get these photos out there so people can see what life was like at that time. These pictures haven’t been seen in 100 years,” Miller added.
The Heritage Society had an initial run of 200 calendars made, and are offering them for sale for $10 each. Mattassa said the calendars can be purchased at the Boone Area Library in Birdsboro, the Oley Turnpike Dairy in Oley, the Yellow House Hotel in Yellow House and at the Manatawny Winery in Amityville.
“We will also be selling them at our next public meeting on Sunday, Nov. 18, when we will have a slide presentation entitled ‘Early 20th Century Tour of Reading-Berks,’ given by George M. Meiser, IX at 1:30 p.m. in our Society building, along Route 422 East at Fairview Chapel Road,” he said.
Mattassa added that the Heritage Society will also look to sell the calendars at area church holiday bazaars. Order forms have also been placed in many businesses throughout southern Berks County.
For information about the calendars and how to purchase them, or for any business that would like to sell the calendar or place order forms in their business, e-mail the Amity Heritage Society at AmityHS@hotmail.com.
The Amity Heritage Society is dedicated to the preservation of Amity Township area history. Covering Amity, Exeter, Union and Robeson townships, the mission of the Amity Heritages Society is to collect, preserve and share information about local heritage.
The calendar committee members are: Charles J. Miller, Tony Mattassa, Vicky Narquet, Larry Clauser and Judith Merkel.