Harpers Ferry historical park celebrates its 50 years


February 20, 1994|By Dorothy Fleetwood | Dorothy Fleetwood,Contributing Writer

To celebrate its 50th anniversary in 1994, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park has scheduled numerous activities.

This month, events focus on black history and an exhibit that examines the Niagara Movement, a turn-of-the-century civil rights organization led by W. E. B. DuBois. The organization, a precursor of the NAACP, held its second meeting in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., in 1906. A few years later, many of its members joined the newly formed NAACP. The exhibit, "The Call for Justice and the Struggle for Equality: Niagara and Beyond," will remain through 1994 at the John Brown Museum.

On Saturday the park will hold an educational symposium, "Niagara: A Historic Perspective," at 1 p.m. at the Curtis Freewill Baptist Church on Camp Hill, with such scholars as David Levering Lewis, biographer of W. E. B. DuBois. Dr. Lewis will be present at a coffee before the symposium at 10 a.m. That evening the NAACP and the Harpers Ferry Historical Association will sponsor a banquet at Hilltop House Hotel. Tickets cost $20, ++ reservations required. Call (304) 535-6881.

Anniversary events continue with an exhibition of 30 paintings by Garnett Jex in March at the Camp Hill United Methodist Church. In April the Harpers Ferry Women's Club will sponsor a tour of historic houses in Harpers Ferry. A highlight of the tour will be the recently restored garden at Harper House. Also in April, the park will observe Landmarks Day by unveiling markers on 60 historic structures in Harpers Ferry.

In May the main event will be a balloon ascension and program on the use of hot-air balloons during the Civil War, by Dr. Tom Crouch, chairman of the department of aeronautics for the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum. There will also be an exposition on 19th-century industrial technology and transportation.

The official 50th-anniversary celebration June 30 features activities throughout the day and a gala evening banquet. History Day, July 1, features a debate by historians on the role of Harpers Ferry in American history. Recognition Day, July 2, includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony for new museums and park trails, a parade, concert and fireworks. The weekend concludes with Family Day, July 3, and an old-fashioned picnic with games for children, a concert and mini-raft trips. For information, call (304) 535-6223.

Irish connections

Rockwood Museum in Wilmington will salute its Irish connections during March. The eldest daughter in the Bringhurst family, who lived there around the turn of the century, married an Irishman and went to live in his castle. At that time, many servants at Rockwood were from Ireland. One was Robert McCormick, who was Rockwood's butler from 1892 to 1920.

Irish month actually begins next Sunday with a lecture at 4 p.m. by filmmaker Paul R. Wagner, followed by an Irish dinner and entertainment by Irish folk musician Mick Moloney. Mr. Wagner will show clips of his documentary, "Out of Ireland," which traces the history of Irish immigration to America over the last 200 years.

Other events include a workshop for children featuring Irish tales on March 5 and an Irish tea preceded by a harp performance on March 12.

Rockwood is at 610 Shipley Road in Wilmington. Call (302) 761-4340.

Music and dancing

WinterSong '94 in Frederick on Friday and Saturday is a celebration of music, art and dance featuring workshops and performances at the Adult Recreation Center at Second and Bentz streets.

The event begins with a swing dance on Friday at 8:30 p.m. featuring the Grandsons of the Pioneers playing music of the '50s. Participants can attend a workshop from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to learn the steps. Tickets cost $6.

Saturday's workshops run from noon to 6 p.m. Among the performers are Jackstraw, a four-member band that plays a combination of bluegrass, jazz, folk and old-time music; Vicky Pratt Keating, a contemporary folk singer; and the trio Nightingale, performing on the fiddle, accordion, piano, mandolin and guitar. That evening there will be a contra dance from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Contra dancing will be taught at a workshop from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Daytime admission on Saturday is $4 for adults; $3 for children 12 and under; $15 for families. Tickets to the dance cost $6. Call (301) 663-8687.

Washington's birthday

George Washington's birthday celebrations continue this week in Virginia and Pennsylvania. In Fredericksburg, Va., seven major historic attractions will offer half-price admission tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They include: Mary Washington House, home of Washington's mother; Rising Sun Tavern, built by Washington's brother Charles; and Kenmore Plantation, home of Washington's sister. The next day the Mary Washington House will hold a birthday party. Guests can tour the house with costumed guides from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and afterward enjoy birthday cake and spiced tea. Admission is $3. Call (703) 373-1776.

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