Clinton and Clifton Bittle have more than 1,000 artifacts sitting in their home, just waiting to make their public debut.

Albums contain carefully preserved images from a local actress' time in Hollywood and New York City. Fur coats, dishes and knickknacks are meticulously stored in artifact boxes. Old furniture sits unused, at least for now.

These items once belonged to Myrtle Louise Stonesifer-King, an actress and playwright who lived in Littlestown. She grew up in her parents' home at 14 S. Queen St. in the early and mid 1900s before trying to make a name for herself as an actress and playwright in New York City and Hollywood. She later retired to the same house from 1969 until her death in 1985.

The brothers have wanted to purchase that home for years, with hopes of turning it into a museum to document the actress's life, the history of Littlestown and early-20th century culture.

Now they're ready to take the next step: raising money to make an offer on the house.

"This is the summer for people to actually donate," Clinton Bittle said.

The Bittles have been busy over the past year. They and their supporters built a website, made business cards and designed shirts. They held their annual Good Ole Cabaret entertainment event in August and, in June, convinced borough council to pass an amendment allowing for museums and other cultural venues in the section of town where the house sits.

They also took what they say was the most important step to kick off fundraising: applying for and receiving official nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service for their group, The M.L.S. King Living Legacy Guild.

Clinton and Clifton Bittle serve as president and vice president of the guild's board, and they have recruited four board members and a treasurer to help them organize events and fundraising efforts.

Many of the board's members have personal connections to Stonesifer-King, who died in 1985 at the age of 80.

"Everyone thought she was nuts," recalled Nancy Doerflein, who once lived next door to Stonesifer-King. Doerflein remembered how the eccentric actress would often sit on her front steps and play the ukulele in her later years.

Sometimes, Doerflein would join her, and they would chat about Hollywood and anything else that came to mind. Someone once told Doerflein she should be careful because being seen with Stonesifer-King could give her a bad reputation.

Those kinds of warnings were common for people who were close to the actress, but the Bittles believe many in the small town of Littlestown just weren't ready to embrace someone influenced by big-city culture.

"She was proud to be part of a culturally diverse area," Clinton Bittle said. "They only knew what they saw."

If You Go

What: Town meeting with The M.L.S. King Living Legacy Guild

When: May 3 at 2 p.m.

Where: Redeemer's UCC sanctuary, 107 E. King St., Littlestown

Donate

The M.L.S. King Living Legacy Guild is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, according to the Internal Revenue Service

To donate or receive more information about Myrtle Louise Stonesifer-King, visitwww.myrtleslegacy.org.

The group can also mail donor forms to people who would prefer to mail a check.

Phone: 717-873-9534

Email: m.l.s.kinglivinglegacyguild@gmail.com

This article comes to us through a partnership between The Evening Sun and WITF.