Coaldale Unveils Historical Markers

They highlight Angela Theater and former school complex.

September 29, 2002|By Terry Ahner Special to The Morning Call - Freelance

It was gloomy Friday, but members of the Panther Valley Renaissance Historic Preservation Task Force saw a ray of light in their future as they unveiled historical markers at two of Coaldale's most recognizable sites.

The markers honor the Angela Theater and the former Coaldale High School complex, now the site of the borough recreation complex.

Dale Freudenberger, market towns manager with the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, said the markers are the first of eight that will be installed in the Panther Valley in the next few months.

"The Coaldale historic markers are an important tool for this community as it begins to look toward its rich heritage as its strongest asset, toward downtown revitalization and economic development," said state Rep. David Argall, R-Schuylkill.

"Working together and building upon the assets of our past, we can create opportunities for our future," he said.

State Rep. Keith McCall, D-Carbon, agreed.

"This is an exciting day," he said. "What you see before you is the culmination of a lot of hard work by borough officials who took a lot of time out of their busy schedules to put together a site of historical markers in the Panther Valley region."

Established in 1923, the former Coaldale High School complex was the borough's first school to offer a four-year program. It continues to be a vital part of the community as a preschool and recreational facility.

Of equal historic significance to longtime residents is the Angela Theater. Opened in October 1949 by Peter Magazzu, it continues to attract patrons at its location on Phillips Street and is the last operating movie theater in the Panther Valley.

The markers' unveiling was months in the making. In June, the task force gathered at Kennedy Park in Lansford to announce markers for eight sites in the Panther Valley, which comprises Coaldale, Lansford, Nesquehoning and Summit Hill.

The region has a rich cultural tradition of coal, canals and railroads. Other sites to be marked are the Room Run Gravity Railroad 1833-1870 and Meed's Memorial Methodist Church, both in Nesquehoning; the No. 9 Mine & Museum and Welsh Congregational Church, both in Lansford; and Old Presbyterian Cemetery and Back Track Trestle, both in Summit Hill.

"This is a very proud day for the Borough of Coaldale," Mayor Claire Remington said. "We are proud to be a part of this Renaissance program."

Terry Ahner is a freelance writer.