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Book about Chambersburg preserves community's past
By IRIS HERSH   - 02/25/2006

public opinion

More Info on This Book: Chambersburg

Capturing area history: Maurice L. Marotte, III, left, and Janet Pollard promote their new book, \"Images of Chambersburg,\" Monday at the Heritage Center, Chambersburg.
It was referred to as the Queen City of the Cumberland Valley.

It had three trolley lines, two railroads and played a role in the frontier, Civil War and industrial history.

A softcover book entitled "Images of America Chambersburg," by Maurice Leonard Marotte III and Janet Kay Pollard, gives readers an understanding of life in Chambersburg throughout its history.

Incredibly clear photos from Marotte's collection of local photos from the 1860s to the 1930s, including many of the town square at various times in its history, are in the book. Also in the book are photos of documents and old advertisements. Marotte, born and raised in Chambersburg, said he always liked history, and was always proud of Chambersburg and the contributions made by its citizens. It has rare photographs of Chambersburg never published before.
After the Heritage Center opened in July 2004, Arcadia Publishing Co. approached Pollard about writing a book about Chambersburg. The company has published a series of such books on different towns.

"One reason I wanted to do the book was to tell about the marble building and who was responsible for preserving it," said Pollard, operations director at Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce. The Heritage Center is an initiative of the organization.

"I wanted to promote and preserve the past for future generations," she said.

Composed of about 250 photos, the book took about a year for the authors to assemble and write.

Each chapter had a different focus and each of the photos represented that focus, said Pollard, who wrote the captions under each photograph and the historical information introducing each chapter. Marotte and Pollard selected the photos and organized the 128-page book.

"Many of the themes of the book's nine chapters parallel the Heritage Center's topics," Pollard said. "To fully appreciate the Heritage Center or the book, you have to explore the other."

Several photos of the town after it went up in flames at the hands of the Confederates are shown from many vantage points. A pre-Civil War scene shows the intersection of Market (now Lincoln Way) and Second streets, looking south toward city hall.

A photo by H. Frank Beidel shows Civil War veterans posing outside the Housum House on West Queen and Water streets in 1885. Others show the strong, old firefighting history in Chambersburg.

Readers can view photos of Chambersburg following the flood of 1920 and the massive snow accumulation of 1914. Other photos show Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing's troop transport on the diamond (now the square). Numerous Old Home Week photos include one of Olympia Candy Kitchen in 1914 with a Greek flag displayed. A 1920 photo of the candy store includes new owners George Pananes and James Pananes and a seven-pound Easter egg.

The transportation chapter has photos of trains, the Cumberland Valley Railroad station on Penncraft Avenue, and aviator Paul Peck preparing his Rex-Smith biplane for the first flight over Chambersburg on Sept. 23, 1911. The experimental aircraft was shipped by rail and assembled on location for the flight. The Chambersburg Businessmen's Association paid him $1,000.

The book is dedicated to Marotte's father, M.L. "Mike" Marotte Jr., "who loved history and antiques and taught his son the value and important of the history in Franklin County," Maurice Marotte III wrote in the book.

"The photos capture life in another time," said Pollard, who hopes the book will help preserve those days. "People want to understand and have a tie with those in the photos."

"It was very gratifying to us that Arcadia asked us to do more books," said Maurice Marotte, Heritage Center Ambassador and employee at H.C. Gabler Inc., Chambersburg. The authors are working on their second book.

Buy It Now: Chambersburg $21.99

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