Borough honors former Historic Harmony president

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The 40th anniversary of Harmony being designated a National Historic Landmark District was the occasion for Harmony council and Historic Harmony to honor Stanley “Stan” Whiting, who was Historic Harmony president at that time.

“It took a great deal of time and hard work to make that designation happen. With the 40th anniversary, it seemed appropriate to recognize Stan for his work,” Jim Hulings, president of Harmony council, said.

Historic Harmony was recognized because of its importance to national heritage and culture as the 1804-1815 founding home of the Harmony Society of German Lutheran Separatists, one of 19th century America’s most successful communal groups, according to the council resolution.

The resolution recognizing Mr. Whiting for his work was adopted May 6. Historic Harmony honored Mr. Whiting with a Heritage Award at Harmoniefest in February.

Mr. Whiting, 96, served as the president of Historic Harmony — then known as The Harmonist Historic & Memorial Association — from 1974 to 1976.

“Old Economy was getting a lot of recognition back then and I was determined that Harmony was just as important as Old Economy,” Mr. Whiting said.

Mr. Whiting and his late wife, Harriet, who served as Historic Harmony secretary, lived in Bellevue but also owned a home in Harmony. The couple would visit the Historic Harmony museum and one day were visiting the Weaver’s Cabin when Mr. Whiting noticed a loom was broken.

“I told the volunteer that I could get it working and before I knew it, I was a member. Then the next thing I knew, I was president. The moral of the story is don’t casually mention that you can fix something,” he said.

Once the members of Historic Harmony decided to apply for the historic designation, Mr. Whiting had to gather maps and documents, write essays and complete a great deal of paperwork. Then he delivered the package to the state office. Harmony became a National Historic Landmark District on May 30, 1974.

The designation is important for several reasons, according to Mr. Hulings.

“First, there are only four in Pennsylvania. And second, the designation protects the properties from destruction. It really helps us protect our heritage,” Mr. Hulings said. Buildings built or renovated in the area also have to follow certain building and zoning regulations, which is important to preserving Harmony’s historic value.

John Ruch, president of Historic Harmony, agreed with Mr. Hulings.

“The fact that we are a National Historic Landmark District has been and always will be of great importance in attracting tourism, restoration and rehabilitation investment, and general economic growth to Harmony. That is why we were pleased to present a Heritage Award to Stan,” he said.

Mr. Whiting now lives in Jackson and is still proud of the historical designation of the area.

“This area was so important to the history of Western Pennsylvania, it was important to receive this designation,” he said.

Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer:

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