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Group aims to preserve the past

February 13, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WELSH RUN, Pa. - Since its formation just under three years ago, the Conococheague Institute for the Study of Cultural Heritage is beginning to take shape as members preserve the past in an effort to build a historical center for future generations.

What started out in June 1994 as a vision to preserve the area's natural and cultural history is becoming reality with every new wooden beam, roof shingle, and window pane added to the institute's most recent projects.

"There's a lot of history here in one little place," said Gay Buchanan, vice president of the institute, headquartered at Rock Hill Farm in Montgomery Township.

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With the goal of eventually creating a museum, park and academic center on the 160-acre property at 12995 Bain Road, about two miles southwest of Welsh Run, members of the historical group are renovating a three-room German plan home and have recently acquired the nearby Welsh Run Academy building that will become the institute's genealogy research library.

The two new projects are in addition to the ongoing refurbishment of the large log farm house on the property, dating back to 1752, known as the Davis-Chambers House.

Institute members recently applied to get the farm house on the national historical registry, Buchanan said.

Owned by Dr. John Stauffer, whose mother lived in the log house at one time, plans are to eventually turn the home and property over to the institute, Buchanan said.

Institute members said it probably will take another two summers of hard work to complete the renovations to the German home, which is believed to have been built in the late 1800s and occupied since the 1950s.

Hidden behind thick brush and trees, the home was found in a dilapidated state, said Buchanan's husband, John.

The home was partially repaired and rebuilt last spring and summer, including a new roof and new windows, with donated supplies and hours of volunteer time.

"We're doing everything on a shoestring," said Alfred Bonnell, a member and volunteer.

Members also are drawing plans to build a German four-square garden in front of the home. It will include plants, flowers and herbs that will reflect the time period of the home, Gay Buchanan said.

Once the renovations are completed in the Welsh Run Academy building, which is opposite the Robert Kennedy Memorial Presbyterian Church in Welsh Run, members will move their genealogy books, research materials and computer there, Buchanan said. It will be open to the public, she said.

Memberships in the Conococheague Institute begin at $10. Quarterly meetings are held to discuss business and include a program. Donations and volunteers are welcome, Buchanan said.

For more information, call 1-717-597-8807.

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