NORTHUMBERLAND — When the centuries-old history of Northumberland Borough is finally written, the iconic Little House on Third Street will fill a chapter — that is not yet complete.
Once abandoned and considered for sale by the Borough, which owned the building, a three-year, volunteer-driven effort to save the 70-year-old landmark once known as the "Girl Scout Little House" — ended, and an all spiffed up and remodeled House officially opened Saturday afternoon.
Cutting the ribbon were two sisters who were members of Troop #9 in the House in 1944, Eleanor Kelly Williamson, 97, and her little sister, Julia Kelly Kane, 87.
Williamson, then a troop leader, and Kane, recalled how busy the girls were. "And active, we were active in our town. Everyone knew who we were," said Williamson. "This was during the war. We collected tin cans for the war effort. We went on field trips."
"It was just one big room," Kane said Friday. "But we had a lot of activities that were done there."
The house had been on that lot since the 1920s, but it wasn’t until the 1940s that the Girl Scouts officially took occupation. It was bought through donations during World War II, had fallen into disrepair for more than a year after a water pipe broke, flooding sections of the basement and main floor. The borough owned the house, which Brownies, Daisy Scouts and Girl Scouts had used for meetings and other events, such as making crafts.
"The Borough Council was going to put it up for sale," said Barbara Kistner, the driving force behind the revitalization. "The community of people who knew the history of the house said ‘No. Do not sell it."
"We lost our school system, we lost our Little League program," she said. "It’s all now Shikellamy. So the idea of losing this part of our identity, to many of us was very hurtful. Once a community loses its identity it loses its focus on why be a community. Because today, everybody does their own thing."
Everything inside is new, including a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning unit, a handicapped-accessible kitchen and bathroom.
"There were so many things donated here," Kistner said. "I got as many donations as I could. We did not use any Northumberland Borough money." There is no stove or oven, but a microwave and refrigerator.
The building can be reserved for parties or events at $50 for three hours.
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