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Heritage Center on tap for timely debut in Chambersburg

June 14, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The sidewalk on the Lincoln Way East side of the building is still a gravel path and workers were scrapping off nearly a century of paint off the exterior window frames, but Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Sciamanna says the $3 million Heritage Center will open on time.

"We're figuring 10 coats," Dave Wogan said as he came down from scaffolding outside the 1915 Marble Building. He and Jennifer Miller of Alvin Beam Painting of Gardners, Pa., were scraping the frames down to bare wood, while Jose Liriano of Lee Quigley Co. of Washington, D.C., was applying chemicals to artificially age the new bronze doors.

"Somehow I believe it's all going to happen on the schedule we set a year ago," Sciamanna said.

He said the schedule has fallen behind by about three weeks, but two weeks were built in to account for weather or other delays.

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The first part to open will be the new three-story addition on the east side of the building, Sciamanna said. The Chamber of Commerce, Chambersburg Area Development Corp., Downtown Chambersburg Inc. and other Chamber-related offices will occupy the first floor and some basement office space, he said.

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., will move to one of three second-floor suites, Sciamanna said. A law firm will occupy another suite and Sciamanna said another tenant is being sought for the third floor.

The Chamber will move to its new offices June 25, according to Sciamanna.

The Heritage Center, which will be in the old bank building, will open to the public on July 16, the first day of the town's annual ChambersFest, but some of the amenities, including two videos to be shown there, will not make their public premiere until July 31.

"We've seen the final cuts," Sciamanna said of the nine-minute video that chronicles the history of Chambersburg and another four-minute video about the area's transportation history.

Those will be the centerpieces for visitors to the old bank building. Around the room will be panels depicting Chambersburg's role in the frontier of the early 18th century, architecture, the Underground Railroad and the Civil War.

In the bank's vault will be information about prominent figures in Franklin County's history such as former President James Buchanan and former Major League baseball player Nellie Fox.

Sciamanna said the center will be staffed by volunteers, called the "Heritage ambassadors."

A trip-planning area and a gift shop also are planned, he said.

About $1 million in federal funds went into the Heritage Center portion of the building. Sciamanna said that money is spent, leaving a debt of about $200,000 on the exhibits. He said that could be paid off with gift and souvenir sales.

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