Sellersville Museum plans to reopen fundraising campaign

The Sellersville Museum has worked for over 45 years to preserve the history of this small Upper Bucks town.

Visitors can admire memorabilia from the old gauging factory or watch the projector that shows films on the screen of the old Sellersville theater when it was a movie theater. Want to know the military history of some of its residents or the sporting highlights that wowed the hometown crowd? They are all there too.

“People say, ‘I’m going to spend 10 minutes here,’ and we have to get them out (like) we’re shutting down,” Sellersville Historical & Achievement Authority secretary Brian Rox said.

But now the keeper of this special story needs his own savings, turning to an online GoFundMe campaign to help fund its reopening. With the help of the community, the museum hopes to reopen by September.

Currently, the museum is hosting an interim ‘Borough Bell Ringing’ event scheduled for July 4th. However, in September, the museum plans to have a special exhibit of Bucks County deed books and early 20th century sanborn cards.

Like so many other small artistic and historical operations, the Sellersville Museum, which opened in 1974, has been hit hard by the pandemic. It was forced to close its doors in March 2020, closing to visitors and canceling weekend exhibitions that have long been preferred and attract the museum.

The popular Lego exhibition, where children present their own collections and creations, was the first victim of the pandemic last year. The show was being put together when the museum was forced to close.

“It was just a very sad situation because the kids really love it, and they promote and advertise it,” Rox said. “It really is a big deal for them and it was just heartbreaking to see them come in and have to take all their stuff down.”

Since then, the Sellersville Museum has struggled to get back on its feet.

Long-time volunteer Bob Behr looks at the flags placed on the museum for Independence Day in 2018. Behr passed away later that year and is fondly remembered by volunteers.

Without a visit, no money was coming in. The museum lived on its savings, which ran out, and it received no funding or subsidies from the state.

Rox reached out to state senators to see what funding would be possible, but the process was slow. So he created a GoFundMe page for the museum and advertised it on Facebook. So far, he has raised $ 1,455 over his typical annual goal of $ 2,500.

Rox said the museum could likely open before it achieves its goal.

Just a few months ago, it looked like the museum might not be able to open for six months, but now it looks promising for the fall.

“Our people were so kind and generous. It was a breath of fresh air, I mean it really was, ”said Rox.

Maybe it’s because of everything the Sellersville Museum has done for the city.

Since the 1970s, the museum has been a place where people can bring in old artefacts that they believe should be kept in a safe place or tell a story. In doing so, they contribute to the history of the city and bring another layer to its rich history.

“One of the perks of having something like this, where the city really came together and they were very active, is that there is a place where people can drop things that would otherwise end up in. the dumpster, ”Rox said. “It’s good when people come because they tell you so many different stories. All these interesting stories about the city and their life.

The museum was founded in the Old Fireman’s Hall, built in 1888.

The museum is now housed in a former public school built in 1874 and was the first school in Bucks County to have more than one room – four rooms on the ground floor and four rooms on the top. The space – which is large for a historical society, Rox said – allows the museum to have a variety of different exhibits and information that keep people coming back for more.

The Sellersville Museum was a school from 1875 to 1964. Over the years, many visitors have recalled fond memories of the school and that school's march to the new in 1964. In this photo, the curved structure was originally a fish pond in the kindergarten and first grade class.  The mayflies have been sourced from local Sellersville businesses over the years.

“It could almost be like a museum of what a small town was 100 years ago, rather than just the history of the area. It’s really interesting, ”said Robbie Fischer, a local history buff who has volunteered at the museum since 2017 and has lived in the area his entire life. “People here are obsessed with local history. I also caught this bug.

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These rooms include historical artefacts – some of which are around 100 years old – that show what life was like through history in Sellersville.

In addition to memorabilia from the Sellersville Gauge Factory and Theater, there are other specific rooms such as the Military Exhibit which features artifacts from people who served in WWI and WWII, memorabilia from church, firefighter memorabilia, sports memorabilia, a school hall with pictures of children from the 1800s and up to the present day with current Pennridge school yearbooks and pins from past parades that took place between 1902 and 1906 in the city.

In addition, the museum has a special exhibition once a month on a weekend. The most popular of these rotating exhibits are Star Wars, Legos and The Beatles.

In the photo, the industrial section of the museum.  It highlights businesses that have made Sellersville their home, including clothing, manufacturing and tools of the trade.

Rox explained that many of these ideas come from the community and museum volunteers when they talk about their collections.

The museum also interacts via Facebook, with Rox posting ‘a bit of a weird story for you’ blurb that explains any element of local history, general history, or something current that is happening. happening in the city.

“It seems like wherever you go, everyone can have a personal connection to local history,” Fischer said.

Residents are interested in knowing the history of the houses they have lived in and the places they have visited in the city.

Behind Fischer’s house, there was apparently a swimming hole at one point that he never found evidence of until a visit to the Sellersville museum. As a resident, Fischer has discovered that learning about the history of the city makes it easier to imagine, and therefore easier to connect.

“It’s like a personal connection to the past… It just helps make the story more real, which is interesting to me.”

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