Spring Swing Two

Saturday April 6 was the perfect night for a dance, a fifties swing dance that is. Attendees arrived to the society dressed in their best: poodle skirts and saddle shoes. Dance lessons started at 7, for those of us who needed to learn how to swing dance, and for those who needed a refresher course. We learned the basic steps to swing dance.


Then the night of dancing, listening to those of time tunes, and socializing began. Everyone had a wonderful time. Everyone was on the dance floor dancing everything from the swing, the polka, to the Twist. One of the lessons learned was that it didn’t matter how well one could dance, but so long as we were having fun we were doing something right.


Special thanks to Crisp Entertainment for providing lessons, the music, and a photo booth to help all those who came out document their evening. Another huge thank you to our sponsors: The American Legion Post 141, Indiana First Bank, Holiday Beverage, and Colonial Motor Mart. And of course the evening wouldn’t have been a success without all those who attended. We hope everyone had a wonderful time and look forward to seeing everyone again at the next Spring Swing!

Historical Society Sock Hop

The Old Armory building was transformed back to the 1950s recently for a night of dancing. On October 12, 2018, guests to the Indiana County Historical Society were transported back to the 1950s for a Sock Hop. Special thanks to Crisp Entertainment for providing the music and giving swing dance lessons to all the dancers on the dance floor. A question many people may have is: what are Sock Hops? So, this week’s blog goes on to discuss the dance popular in the 1950s and the culture during the 1950s. School dances were popular during the 1950s, and those dances were held in the school gymnasium, and in order to protect the floor, story goes, that teenagers often danced in their socks, henceforth the name “sock hop.” Young people would flock to these dances either with a date or as a group, which was a major change in society. 


Fashion in the 1950s was much different than it is today, girls often suited up in sweaters and swirling circle skirts, the best remembered is the poodle skirt. The first poodle skirt was made in 1947, and quickly became a must-have item. The garment was specifically marketed for teens. . Guys would commonly wear sport jeans and T-shirts, although looks varied across social roles ranging from “preppies” to “greasers.” Along with the poodle skirt were saddle shoes, these shoes were black and white shoes that looked like saddles and were worn by both men and women. Some famous saddle shoes in popular culture were Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock and Lucy van Pelt from the Peanuts comic strip also wears saddle shoes. 


Music during the 1950s was a defining characteristic of the time; rock-and-roll had surged into mainstream music, and many young people were obsessed with the new sounds. This music included socks like Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes” and Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock.” This embrace of a “new” style of music lead to “American Bandstand” hosted by Dick Clark with nationwide broadcast beginning in 1957. 

New styles of dancing also occurred during this time including the hand jive, the stroll, and the box-step, but none captured the younger generation like the Twist. Although it came late in the game originating in 1959 in a Hank Ballard song, it did not fully come into the spotlight until 1960 when 17-year-old Chubby Checker released a recording of the infamous song. The song and dance were so popular that it was followed up with “Let’s Twist Again.” 

The 1950s were a time of change in American Society not just with music and dance but also in culture. Teenagers parents were concerned, especially with the dance moves; Elvis Presley’s dancing was considered “dirty” and “too sexy” for television. But the teenagers of the day accepted it and the culture of the 1950s become a part of society. 

2017 Society Summary

It is time once again for us to ring in a new year, and what a year it has been for the Indiana County Historical Society. We have done so much this past year and we take this time to reflect on what we have accomplished. We held a number of programs and workshops that we hope to continue in 2018, so be on the lookout for dates of those events. This year was a year of fundraisers and cooperation with many different organizations in the area.


The Historical Society once again worked with the Indiana Art Association, sponsoring the Open Arts Show, that is exhibited at the Society from November to early January. We have also worked closely with IUP to bring interns to our Museum. Internships help students learn about how a museum operates and it also enables the Society to use young talent to expand our outreach. Thanks to the Evergreen Garden Club, the Silas Clark House is always beautifully decorated for the Christmas season. Along with decorating the Clark House at Christmas time the club also creates and maintains the garden at the point of South Sixth Street and Wayne Avenue during the Spring/Summer season.

This past year also bring with it new partnerships, including one with the Young Professional Organization (YPO). The YPO is a subgroup of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce comprised of individuals from 18-40 years old with the purpose of promoting networking between local businesses. This past October they sponsored the Haunted School Spirits program that brought approximately 75 people into the museum, along with funds paid by attendees. Also, this past September/October the Society worked with the Paranormal Society of IUP who investigated the Museum, Clark House and grounds for possible spirit entities that may still be roaming the buildings. The activities ended with a reveal of the investigations.

In addition to these big events, the Society also works with the Rainbow Diamond Glass Club, the Horace Mann Elementary School, and showcasing exhibits at the annual Air Show at the Jimmy Stewart Airport. Further, Board members and volunteers have given presentations at the Indiana Free Library and the Blairsville Historical Society. It is important for organizations to work together to expand our horizons; if you know of an organization that would like to work with the Historical Society please contact us at ichistoricalsociety@gmail.com or by phone at 724-463-9600.

A few closing notes about our 2018; we have many fun programs, events, and fundraisers planned so stay tuned to our various social media accounts, or consider becoming a member to learn about member exclusive events. Also, we have the following closings for 2018: March 30-31; July 3-4; November 20-24; and December 22-31.

We want to wish all our readers, followers, and members a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year. We hope to see you at the museum in 2018, either to visit the museum, attend one of our programs, fundraisers, or other events, or to volunteer. We will be closed until January 2, 2018 to give all our staff and volunteers a much-needed vacation.

Haunted Indiana 2017

Our October Halloween themed events went incredibly well. We ended up either selling out or having a full house for many of the events. There was plenty of collaboration between multiple organizations to make all things possible. The month was a fun one between the investigations, School Spirits, and the Specters Reveal. Needless to say October was an incredibly active month at the HGSIC.

The School Spirits event was a collaboration between the Historical Society and The Young Professionals of Indiana County (YPO). The lecture presented the evidence of the paranormal that has been collected at the now demolished Keith and Leonard Halls on IUP’s campus. The YPO spearheaded the creation of the event and donated a sizeable portion of the proceeds to the Society. We are grateful for their generous donation and look forward to working with them in the future. Special thanks to Crisp Entertainment for providing a superb video and audio setup. The quality equipment made the evidence that much more chilling. Due to the success of this event, the Society already has future programs in the works with the YPO. It is great to see a group take interest in the preservation and presentation of history in Indiana County. Stay tuned for more to come!

Haunted Indiana
Laurel Black giving a presentation about paranormal activity at Keith and Leonard Halls.

The Society was also thrilled to work once again with the Paranormal Society of IUP (PSIUP) and Ghost Researchers in Pennsylvania (GRiP). Both groups contributed the content, equipment, and personnel for the paranormal investigations that took place, as well as the reveal on October 28th. Participants were able to investigate both of the Society’s historic structures while utilizing proper ghost hunting equipment. At the conclusion of the investigations, Dr. Laurel Black from IUP provided multiple lectures for both the School Spirits and Specters Reveal. We are grateful for her contribution and are thrilled at her willingness to work with the Society. With October now over, the ghosts will need to wait another year for investigators to once again make their ways through the Society’s halls.

The happenings this month were all enjoyable, however, the Society also believes in supporting other community organizations. With that in mind, a portion of the ticket sales from the investigations and the reveal will be donated to the women’s imaging center located at IRMC as in previous years. It was great to work with other community organizations and we look forward to collaboration on future events. With that being said, the spirits of the Society can rest for another year, until the chill of October once again brings visitors back to explore the spookier side Indiana has to offer.

Event Happenings 2017

The year is almost over, however, the Society still has a few events taking place before the final days of 2017 run out. With the holidays now upon us it is time for family and friends. At this time of the year it is important to address closings since our schedule this year differs somewhat from that of last. Regardless it is going to be a busy conclusion to the year and we hope you can join us to be a part of that.

On November 16ththe Society will hold its final fundraiser of the year. We will be hosting a community night at Hoss’s. All you need to do to support the Society is you dine at the Hoss’s on Wayne Avenue on the above mentioned date and present a participation card which is available at the museum. At the conclusion of the day, the Society will get a portion of the total sales. This is a fantastic opportunity to support local history while also getting the chance to have some great food. Contact the Historical Society for additional cards or if you have any questions.

The Society looks to once again hold its annual Christmas Open House early next month on Friday December 8th. The Clark House will be beautifully decorated by the Evergreen Garden Club in the traditional Victorian style and the exterior will be aglow with seasonal lighting. There are two pieces of entertainment set up for that night. First, we have the Indiana Junior High School choir directed by Mrs. Ellen Werner at 7 p.m., and later on in the evening at 7:30 p.m. the Indiana Brass Band will perform traditional holiday tunes on historic brass instruments. As always there will be refreshments available and the museum will be open to tour. There is no admission cost and all are welcome for this wonderful holiday celebration.

Clark House Decorated for Christmas 2016

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching it is important to note museum hours surrounding the holiday. The Society will be closed the week of the 19th and will reopen its doors on Tuesday the 28th. This time off will allow staff and volunteers to spend time with their family and come back refreshed for the remainder of the year.

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, the Society wishes you and your family a safe and happy holiday. We have much to be thankful for here at the Society: the dedicated volunteers, our fantastic Board, two wonderful historic buildings, the contributions of those that came before us, and let’s not forget our membership which enables the Society to continue to serve the community and preserve the past.

Fall 2017 Ladies’ Victorian Tea

Although the weather was quite warm for late September, the Clark House was transported back in time to serve as a place for an afternoon tea. Guests were treated to a music as they entered the Clark House great room, beautifully decorated for a fall tea.

An introduction made by Executive Director, Jonathan Bogert, with a brief explanation about the Society and introduction of the speaker, Katie Gaudreau. Guests were invited to fill their plates with goodies and then served their choice of tea. The menu included: Cranberry Scones, Apple Cake, Assorted Cheese and Fruit, Pumpkin Muffins, Nut Break and Apple Cheddar Tea Sandwiches. The teas included: Irish Breakfast, White Peach, or the Clark House Fall Blend. The Clark House Fall Blend is available for purchase in the Society Gift Shop.

The day continued with a presentation given by Gaudreau. The Gilded Age, La Belle Epoque, the Edwardian Period, the turn of the 20th century is known by many names. Regardless of what it may be labeled, it was definitely an exciting time of change particularly for women. The styles in clothing were a distinct departure from the Victorian period, the rights of women were being questioned and fought for, even the beliefs of marriage and romantic love were evolving from that of the century before. The presentation brought up conversation and questions. After the presentation guests were invited to enjoy an exhibit of the styles of dress form 1900 to 1910 and look around the Victorian Clark House Mansion.

If you missed this event be on the look out for other events and be aware that there will be another opportunity to join us for tea in the Spring!!

Ladies Victorian Tea Fall 2017

It is once again time for one of the most popular fundraising events at the Historical Society, the Ladies Victorian Tea. This fall the tea will be held on Saturday September 23rd from 2:00 to 4:00 pm at the Clark House.

The Origin of Afternoon Tea

The origin of the afternoon tea can be traced back to Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford. She complained of “having that sinking feeling” during the late afternoon. At the time it was usual for people to take only two main meals a day, breakfast, and dinner at around 8 o’clock in the evening. The solution for the Duchess was a pot of tea and a light snack, taken privately in her boudoir during the afternoon.

Later, friends were invited to join her in her rooms at Woburn Abbey and this summer practice proved so popular that the Duchess continued it when she returned to London, sending cards to her friends asking them to join her for “tea and a walking of the fields.” Other social hostesses quickly picked up on the idea and the practices became respectable enough to move it into the drawing room. Before long all of fashionable society was sipping tea and nibbling sandwiches in the middle of the afternoon.

The Program for the Fall Tea

The Gilded Age, La Belle Epoque, the Edwardian Period; the turn of the 20th century is known by many names. Regardless of what it may be labeled, it was definitely an exciting time of change particularly for women. The styles in clothing were a distinct departure from the Victorian period, the rights of women were being questioned and fought for, even the beliefs in marriage and romantic love were evolving from that of the century before. Historian Katie Gaudreau will discuss the changing societal roles of women as seen through clothing, accessories, and other means during this time. Enjoy an exhibit of the styles of dress from 1900 to 1010 as you enjoy tea and refreshments at the Fall Victorian Ladies’ Tea.

Ticket Information

Tickets will go on sale on August 15 and will be available for $20 for non-members and $15 for members. For more information or to order tickets contact the Society at 724-463-9600 or email at ichistoricalsociety@gmail.com. Tickets are limited.