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Pennsylvania will have 36 new historical markers

  • Gabriela Martínez/WITF

 PLBthetoonist/Wikimedia Commons

The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission has approved 36 historical markers honoring important people, places and events across the state.

The new markers add to more than 2,500 others throughout the state and will be installed in 18 counties, including Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Cambria, Clinton, Delaware, Erie, Huntingdon, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lehigh, Lycoming, Monroe, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, Washington, and York.

A marker honoring iconic pop artist Keith Haring will be placed in Kutztown, Berks County, near the artist’s childhood home. Haring’s work explored public health and the AIDS epidemic, homophobia, racism and environmental issues. Haring’s Crack is Wack mural, painted in 1986, is one of New York City’s most famous murals.

“Keith Haring democratized art, like much pop art does, which is to say, everyone, whether they live in Kutztown or in New York City, should have access to art and should be able to engage with art that is calling us to think about contemporary issues in our communities,” said Mary Foltz, professor of English at Lehigh University, who worked on the application for the marker.

Nationaal Archief/Wikipedia Commons

Keith Haring at work in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

Haring, who lived in New York City and is internationally known, was, in part, approved for a marker because he maintained his relationship with Kutztown and donated his artwork to cultural institutions. The Kutztown Historical Society houses some of his chalk drawings. The effort to memorialize Haring’s life and work sprung from a collaboration between the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, the  LGBT Center of Greater Reading and the Kutztown Historical Society.

In York County, a shoe-shaped building known as the Haines Shoe House will have a marker explaining the structure’s architectural importance. It was built in 1948 by millionaire shoe salesman Mahlon N. Haines. It was designed by architect Frederick Rempp. The Haines Shoe House is one of many roadside attractions along the Lincoln Highway, the nation’s first coast-to-coast highway for automobiles. 

Schuylkill County will have a marker commemorating the life and work of Allan Jaffe, an internationally renowned jazz musician and entrepreneur who helped spur the revival of early American jazz. 

Other markers will include the Ford Station Underground Railroad, which was operated by  Emma Howell, Erie’s first freedwoman. 

In Philadelphia, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the oldest appellate court in North America, is also getting a marker.

“We’re just happy with the slate. We’re really happy with the diversity of the markers that are approved,” said Howard Pollman, spokesman for PHMC. “It just shows the diverse stories that Pennsylvania tells.”

According to PHMC, “Pennsylvanians continue to have great interest in the Historical Marker Program,” and that marker nominations submitted last year nearly doubled.

There is no specific date for when markers will be installed. After the marker is approved, PHMC works with the marker nominators to craft the text on the sign and finalize details about where it will be placed. Pollman says they will be installed at some point next year. 

Here is a list of all the approved markers.

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